How to get your teenager talking

Crystal Cox

You thought the toddler years were challenging and then your child became a teenager. 

No matter how delightful or difficult your teenager is proving to be, knowing how to navigate this time is tough. How do you balance protecting needed freedom and guiding your child? Each milestone brings excitement and the sting of your child becoming their own person. 

During this challenging stage of parenting, keep your calling in mind. God has given parents the responsibility of preparing children for adulthood. 

As Proverbs 22:6 instructs, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Communication is key to training your teenager. Allow Jesus to guide you as you try these things to get your teenager talking.

Four Ways to Get Your Teen Talking

1. Pursue your teenager 

Jesus spent a lot of time with His disciples and often took them away from the crowds to teach them. Pursuing our children means carving out regular time with them, including alone time with each one. 

This time should be focused on each other, free from things that distract. If an unplanned opportunity presents itself, go with it. When our teens see we are available, they will learn they can open up to us. 

2. Ask questions 

Jesus’ conversations and teachings were full of questions. Questions open up communication and invite your child in. 

Start out with open-ended questions like, “How was school today?” and follow with questions that invite more specific information. When the answer is, “Good,” you can ask, “What was good about it?” Questions give your teenager the opportunity to start talking.

3. Listen more than you talk  

Your teenager needs a reliable sounding board. Many ears will be closed, but yours should be open. You may have to force yourself to stay silent if they don’t immediately answer your question or reveal something upsetting. 

Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” Listen more than you speak. As your teenager grows, you want to be a person they can talk to as they hear God speaking. Teach your child the most important voice to listen to is His.

4. Understand your teen

There will be times when what you hear frustrates you, even times you are angry or disagree. At times, you will be happy about the news your child shares, and at times, it will break your heart.

Share your experiences. You’ve made mistakes; you’ve been hurt. Showing you understand doesn’t mean you don’t discipline and correct, but it does mean you model God’s forgiveness, compassion, friendship, mercy, and grace. Focus on shaping your child’s heart more than your child’s actions.

Parenting a person transitioning from childhood to adulthood is a challenge but can be such a blessing. Remember God has given you this calling and allow 1 Thessalonians 5:24 to remind you He is working in you: “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

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