Helping my teenagers learn how to navigate relationships has been the biggest part of my twenty years of parenting. Hands down.
Teachers, friends, coaches, dating, teammates, family . . .
So. Many. Discussions.
My guess is that you too will have more discussions with your teen about their relationships than you ever thought possible. A few warnings/tips: The people on the other side of your teen’s relationships will probably be playing by different rules, which will cause mounds of frustration for both you and your teen.
If you’re married, it’s crucial that you and your spouse operate off the same page. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support, encouragement, and wisdom from friends, family, and church. (You will need it.) Living out the kind of relationships you want for your teen is the best way to help them learn how to develop healthy relationships in their own lives.
And don’t be alarmed if find yourself repeating the same things over and over and over again. Nothing is wrong with you or your child. It’s just the way it is at this phase.
Speaking of repeating yourself, these are some of the most repeated and helpful topics/phrases in our home:
- When you feel like you can’t respect the person in authority, respect their position.
- Know God’s best for you and then DO NOT DATE anyone but God’s best for you. (This includes having a “thing,” texting, snapchatting, flirting . . . all the things.)
- Be the friend you want to have.
- Be the person you want to marry one day.
- You have 100% control over what you say and do. You have ZERO control over what other people say and do.
- God made every friend, boy, girl, ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, teacher, coach, family member . . . everyone you could possibly have a relationship with—God made them and loves them.
- Kindness has no regrets.
- Just because a person doesn’t value your friendship doesn’t mean you’re not valuable.
- Guarding your heart is as important as guarding your body.
- Social Media is NEVER the place for sharing your negative thoughts and feelings about relationships.
- If a person makes you feel sad or bad about yourself, guard your heart and stay away from that person. (This may require unfollowing a person on social media. It’s not being mean to someone to unfollow them. It’s being good to yourself.)
- What your eyes see and ears hear will shape your thoughts and emotions.
- If a person gives you that “uh-oh” feeling, you may not need to be in that relationship. Don’t find out the hard way. Just stay away.
- “Hanging out” in a basement (or any other room) alone with the opposite sex is ASKING FOR TROUBLE.
- Do not confuse social media popularity with reality. Real friends are the ones who talk to you, spend time with you, and remember your birthday.
- Give your best to those closest to you.
- Pray for your current relationships and the relationship you would like to have.
- It takes courage to be who God made you to be. Be courageous!
- Surround yourself with relationships that bring out the best in you.
- Hang out in groups and observe the way your crush (before anyone knows there’s a crush) acts around other people, serves in church/community, interacts with his/her family, etc.
- Social media can be a great way to check a person of interest out before even talking with them. You can learn a lot about a person by what they post and how they comment.
- Girls: You can show love for your male friends by dressing with modesty.
- Guys: You can show love for your female friends by speaking with words of respect.
- Do not say words like “Always” and “Forever.” Wait at least 6 months before saying the big “I love you.”
- Girls: Practice letting the guy lead. Do not text, call, or snap chat first. Let him pursue you.
- Son, you can date when you can drive and pay for it.
- Daughters, all boys have to introduce themselves to dad before taking you anywhere.
- Gossip kills relationships.
- Think the best of other people.
- I can practice with you, but you are old enough to have that conversation for yourself.
- If a relationship is important to you, take care of it.
Helping teens learn to navigate relationships of any kind is exhausting, heartbreaking, and at times can make you downright angry. BUT, when we don’t give up, the rewards are 100% worth it. Being able to develop and maintain healthy relationships is one of the best gifts we can give our children.
What is one thing you can share with your teen today to help them begin to navigate their relationships in a healthier way? Let us know in the comments below!