This mentor has an adult son that is going through a hard time. This mom doesn’t like what her son is doing or where he is at spiritually but, she is also his mom and wants to help him. She wisely asked him how she could help him. He was amazingly able to communicate what he needed. He said, “When I do or say things you don’t like, pull close instead of pulling away.”
Do you get what he is saying? He is asking his parents to not react emotionally but to purpose to stay in his life and keep trying to help him.
This man put into words the concept I have felt but couldn’t verbalize about raising teens.
Spoiler alert: if I ever write a book about raising teens this will be the key point I try to drive home.
When our teens pull away, we do not have to throw up our hands and say, “Whatever, do it your way.” We can’t demand them to want to be with us, but we can pull closer. No emotional threats or guilt trips just persistent caring. Asking questions is a big one. And when they accuse us of being nosey, we unemotionally explain, “No, I love you and I want to know what you are experiencing.” This shows interest not judgment.
Pulling closer is not easy. It certainly is not what comes naturally. But, keeping an eye on the eternal goals we have for that child can help us overlook the momentary emotions that are bubbling up within us that make us want to spurt out hurtful comments or to stop being the parent.
We must be the mature one; we can’t resort to acting like a teenager too.
Before reacting, we can ask, “What does this child need from me?” this may help us have a better response. Another question to ask is, “Am I listening?” Seriously, we need to listen, to stop talking long enough for them to get out what they are really thinking.
But don’t stop talking. Keep telling them what they need to hear, even if they don’t appear to be listening. Just don’t try to do it in one sitting. And don’t try to do it just one time. Little nuggets on a regular basis are the most digestible. We need to have self-control, to only allow a little wisdom to flow at a time. Don’t pull out the fire hose when only a cup full is needed.
So, you have a teen? Let this be your theme throughout the teen years, pull closer instead of pulling away.