We cannot multitask our relationships.
I know the non-stop activity of a home with teenagers. There is always something to do, somewhere to be or someone dropping by unexpectedly. We live in a time when the message of the day is to have your teens busy and involved. I think we have gotten the message and may I add that I do agree with the thought behind it. Young people need to be occupied. They need to have schedules to keep and places to be. Often times, their passions and the things that make them feel good about themselves like sports, choir, band, school clubs or church youth groups are what fill most of their time. All of these things are important.
I just don’t want to see us sacrificing our relationships in order to fill every moment with activity.
We parents are extremely busy, as well. It is easy to become lazy in our relationship with our children. Unless we are deliberate and thoughtful about ways to stay connected with our teens, we simply won’t. I have literally watched hundreds of families go through a time where they felt as though they hardly knew their teens. The sad fact is… they didn’t. They had become complacent and succumbed to society’s pressures to allow their teens to be involved in everything and allowed their child’s “social life” to steal their own interaction with them.
That is not what God has called us to. He has not called us to have fragmented families who co-exist and whose only communication is arguments over who forgot to do the dishes or take out the trash. He has called us to love one another and to raise these young people to make a Kingdom impact.
Here are some suggestions:
- We cannot rely on the “in season” ways of communicating. Our teens are completely consumed with their phones. A recent study found that teens ages 13 – 17 spend 9 hours a day on average using social media, the internet or technology. 41% said that they are “addicted” to their cell phones. Texting your children through the day may be a good way to communicate quick details; however, do not be deceived into thinking that this somehow constitutes a relationship. It simply does not.
- You cannot “squeeze” people in. How many of us have had something planned with our immediate family that would allow us to simply make eye contact and love on them and at the last minute decided to invite other friends or family out of guilt? Feeling as though you could kill two birds with one stone and you needed time with the friends or other family as well. It doesn’t work. Your attention will be divided and your teens will be the ones neglected. Don’t feel guilty about spending time with your family. It is vital.
- Eat dinner together. It is so important that at the end of the day you spend time sharing together. You will have to schedule it. It will not happen unplanned.
Jesus, the Word with us and the only begotten of the Father…spent face to face time with 12 men. It is the inflection in one’s voice, the twinkle in an eye, the quivering of a hand or a hug and a grin that add life and value to our relationships. Do not become weary in the fight for relationship. In the end, it won’t be the text messages or the Facebook pictures you will cherish. It will be the sweet memories of lingering.
You can swim confidently into the murky waters of parenting teens! Rescue offers wisdom, encouragement, and practical applications. Working with a group of young “Lifeguards” throughout the book, Candy Gibbs gives struggling parents the life preservers they need to rescue teens from a drowning culture. With Biblical insights and Candy’s own creative techniques, Rescue is the “Noah’s Ark” of parenting books, ensuring that today’s teens will carry on a legacy of godliness to generations to come. Find out more!