8 Things Teenagers Will Appreciate (even if they don’t admit it)
Dearest parents of teenagers:
Let’s begin with a big deep breath, shall we?
(I sensed we needed that.) (Or was it just me?)
I hear from a lot of you, and I know it isn’t always easy…Your teens may do everything in their power to make you believe that they do not want/need/enjoy you much at all these days. Your teen may pull away, push away, or just walk away. I mean, it’s not always that bad (I am happy to say that I have two very respectful teens…and I’m holding on to hope that they’ll stay that way) but even the most well-mannered teen will occasionally give off the air of, “I’m doing ok, thanksanywaysmom.”
But parents: Don’t let them fool you. Your teens need you as much as ever right now. Yes, they appreciate a bit more space these days, and your ability to accept the fact that they’re not five anymore means a lot. And it’s true, they might be pretty sure that they’re smarter than you (and if they’re like my teens they might be right.) But they do need you. They still love you. And deep down, they still want to be close to you.
So our job now is to do our best to reach them where they are, with love and support. To move in close…(but not too close! “Really mom!?!?”) and at the end of the day…
To be the kind of parents your kid quietly thanks God for.
Here are eight simple things that your teenager is sure to appreciate, (even if they won’t admit it until they are thirty-five.)
1. Late night chats. If you “happen” to stay up late at night once in a while, your teen is likely to not only be awake, but willing to talk to you. (Like with words and everything.) Keep it cool, folks, and for goodness sakes don’t dive in too far too fast. (it’s an art form…) Try to act casual as you plop down on their bed while they put their things away, or make them a cup of hot chocolate and just sit at the counter next to them. At first they might act a little bit annoyed, but play your cards right and they might just start to open up a bit. In fact, sometimes there are things teens actually want to talk about, but can’t find the right time for in the busyness of the day. Regardless, they’ll appreciate knowing you’re there without an agenda, and that you’re available if they need you. Then, (this is key—) cheerfully say goodnight and leave the kid alone.
2. All of the food. Teenagers may appreciate nothing more than a fully stocked kitchen. And they really really love it when you actually make the food for them. I mean, I’m all for self-sufficiency and letting teens help themselves (Because really: They are capable now, and how many millions of years did we have to do every…single…thing…for them?) But if your goal is to score points, then go big, Mom. There isn’t a teenager in the world that won’t smile at a stack of piping hot pancakes waiting for them first thing in the morning. A gallon of ice cream…a loaf of buttery garlic bread…This stuff is the love language of teenagers! Feed them the food. Then feed their friends. You will be appreciated.
3. A back scratch/shoulder rub. Sure, your teen might be pulling away from you physically, and even the cuddliest of toddlers eventually grow up. And that’s normal, (even if it
shatters our heart is a little hard.). But it doesn’t have to be over yet. Just when you think you’ve lost all physical connection…Enter the scene: Homework back scratches, or after practice shoulder rub. While your teen is reading a book or hunkered down over the computer, offer a little back scratch or shoulder rub and try as they might, they won’t even be able to utter the word NO. Before you know it they’ll begin the nightly habit of slouching down next to you on the couch with their shirt pulled up, saying “I love you Mom.”
4. A kind note. Parents: We have a lot of thoughts. Emotions….Sentiments for our teens. And sometimes these thoughts come to us in the middle of the night (amiright?) and sometimes they hit us at other weird times. I can’t explain these things you guys, I just know they happen. And as much as we’d love to pour out our hearts in a bunch of words to our teens, it usually just isn’t the right time. So try writing some notes. Don’t make it an exhaustive letter about every feeling (memory from their infancy…hopes for their future–) those things have their place but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Simply name a thing or two you love about them. Give them an inspirational quote or a Bible verse that might encourage them. A note slipped onto your teenagers pillow (or into their backpack if you’re really slick) will encourage them more than you know.
(and it will quite possibly travel the miles with them in years to come.)
5. Family Time. Ask your teen to skip a night out with friends to hang out with Mom and Dad once in a while. I know that some of you are already shaking your head “no way” at this one, but hear me out: Your teen wants time with you! Sometimes teenagers feel like they have to do everything the other kids do. And when Mom and Dad say yes to everything, they feel even more pressure to do it all. So sometimes ask them to stay with you instead. They might initially argue about it, but deep down, they are often relieved. Your invitation to do a family game night, dinner out, or just cruise and watch Netflix may be just what you’re teen really needs. (Even if they don’t admit it for a few more years.)
6. Your advice. Your teenager may act like they’ve got it all figured out. Some people think teens only listen to their peers, but that isn’t true. Teenagers DO want to hear what their parents think of things. Of course there is a right and wrong way to offer them your wealth of wisdom and life experience, but if you do it right, they’re most likely going to listen. And they’ll remember what you say. Keep it short and sweet. Don’t lecture. But offer your sincere advice in a loving way and they will be listening.
7. Your (genuine) interest. Your teen will appreciate it if you take the time to figure out what they’re interested in, and show a little interest in it too. Don’t even try to fake this one because: they’ll know. But you also don’ have to be perfect — some sincere effort will score you points every time. I have one friend whose son was really into sports, so she got an app on her phone that gave her all of the current sports updates. Even just asking your teenager some questions about their current hobbies or interests, and then remembering to follow-up later with questions will mean so much. (BTW–this was my teenagers first suggestion when I asked him to help me with this list!)(Closely followed by “Food.”)
8. Your compliments. Trust me on this one: Teens appreciate (love…need…crave) compliments. Tell them when they look good. Tell them when they smell good. If they perform well, speak well, do well in school, chores, or anything else: Say it! I try hard to focus the most on character traits, but they’ll take anything. Tell them you love their heart or their jokes or their muscles, and even if they act like you’re a weirdo, you’ll probably catch them smiling as they walk away.
Teens are so great, I could talk about them all day long. There are more things to add to this list, but I’ll let you add some of your own in comments below. What have you discovered your teenager appreciates most? Maybe something surprising? Do you remember (even quietly) appreciating something your own parents did for you?
Thanks so much for stopping in and I hope you get to practice a few ways to love on your teen right away!
Before I go: Great news! I have gathered my most popular “BOY POSTS” onto one page for your convenience! There will always be a link in my blog side bar ——>
and you can click on image below to check out the page with the complete list and links!
(sorry it only took me forever to do this!)
If you found this post to be helpful or encouraging… I would love it if you used the social media share buttons below to pass it along! Mahalo
PS A helpful resource:
If you need some help figuring out the best way to communicate love to your teen, you might enjoy this book: The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively
Thank you for all your posts like this! 🙂 They help a LOT!
Thank you for this post! As a mom of little kids this helps me to stay focused on this time with them when they do let me cuddle them as much as I want!
I also wanted to add that when I was a teen, at least once a week when I came home my mom would have a game of double solitaire set up for us to play. (It also helped that she usually included tea and some cookies!) It was so much fun and a great way to unwind from a day at school and the best part was that I had her FULL attention. I still remember that to this day as one of my fondest memories of my childhood and one I want to replicate with my kids.
I absolutely love that memory, Leah! Thank you for sharing! I actually love solitaire and I’ve never played double with my boys, so you just gave me a new idea to try with them! 🙂 ALOHA-
This one is tied to food, but add it to the list if you can swing it!
Ofttimes I arrived home after a practise or rehearsal after supper had already been served. Mom always saved my plate, warmed it and either her or my Dad or both sat with me as I ate…..Like they stopped doing what they were doing to visit and share in the ups and downs of my day. I realize now that it was probably not that exciting for them to hear about which silly girl said what to whom or what killer drill we ran in basketball practise but they listened anyway.
And now, as a 42 yr old mother of 4, I still talk to my parents everyday. I tell them it’s because then it won’t be weird as they age and I have to phone to check up on them, but I think they are on to me 😉
That just gave me goosebumps!! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing, Deirdre! Love it and love your relationship with your (clearly very cool) parents! Aloha-
Just to confirm one of your items above…. I do periodically put notes in my teen daughter’s lunch box. Not long ago, one of the other girls at the table grabbed the note, and my daughter assumed that mocking would ensue. But instead, the girl said, “That’s nice. I wish my mom would do that.”
so great Jennifer! I love to hear that! 🙂 Keep it up– aloha!
great reading thank you!!!
I have two teenage girls (15, 14), a 12y.o. girl, a 10y.o. boy plus a 6y.o. girl and a 2y.o. boy. Despite all the hectic days and nights, I try to be real with my kids. I let them know when I’ve made a mistake and try to apologize and make things right when I do. I also try to let them know when they’ve done things right! I remember thinking as a teen that I just could never do anything right so I do my best to “catch” my kids doing the right thing, saying the right words, going the extra mile and showing love and support to their siblings.
I love to ask their opinion whenever possible, pray over them before one of their music performances, let the teen girls run into the store for a few groceries for me so they know what it feels like to be like a grown-up, go clothes shopping with them and, especially if they are paying for it with their own money, give them a chance to choose and pay for their own clothes (within reason….no showing belly buttons or cleavage), even if I don’t really like some of their choices.
I love being with my kids, especially during “private time” (usually involves food) and chatting with them about their interests and opinions on life, not being afraid to chat with the older ones on topics such as politics, religion, sharing the gospel, peer pressure, relationships in marriage (respect, communication, etc.), where they are in their faith and reassuring them that they don’t always have to agree with what I think but they should know why they disagree and learn to defend that opinion with logic and truth.
I’m never perfect and I FAIL all the time but my kids are so awesome and extend such grace to me that most times it’s easy to be a mom to teens, tweens and also to the youngers.
Thank you so much for this great article….I was very encouraged!
Thank you Tulip for sharing from your family! I love to hear from other parents doing their best (and never perfectly) as it totally encourages me in my own parenting! Sounds like you’re doing an amazing job. I too love the chats as they get older when you can really get into “real” subjects. It’s awesome to see them growing into adults like that!
Keep it up and keep in touch! aloha-
I have two boys and each one opens up to me a different way. My oldest 17 is more open and he really opens up if I take him out to eat!:) But he hates questions so I have to let him lead a bit. My youngest 15 is not so open and keeps his emotions more to himself. I have found a great way to connect with him. Every Tuesday we do a camp out on the couch and turn on movies and he starts the talking. Its like water coming out of a Dam, non stop information and a peek into his life. If I want to know anything going on with him it is at this time where he talks. If you can find that one thing that works stick with it:)
Great advice and I love how you’ve figured out both of your boys! Well done, momma! That is super encouraging, Much aloha, thank you for sharing–
Awesome and insightful post!! Thank you!! As a mama of two teenage boys and a preteen, I’m always searching for encouraging words!! 💙💙💙
These are some great tips and I am happy to say that I’ve used some of these myself on my 15 year old. My middle girl is on the cusp of being a teenager and I’m sure I’ll need plenty of tips for her… girls are a whole different ball game. My boy definitely appreciates food and feeding him and his friends. I try to oblige as much as I can. 🙂
Love it! I have a 22yr old son and did all of these things (including the back scratches). It makes my heart glad to know I did what I needed to even though it wasn’t always convenient. e.g. late night chats when i wanted sleep!! It was all worth it. Thanks so much for putting it all into words in this post. Its inspiring for me, and with another son coming into the teen years, I know what I need to do and Im looking forward to all of it!!
Just wonderful!!!!! Needed this! Sharing with all my village peeps! xo 🙂 Mahalo~ xo
Hi Monica, thank you for taking the time to share your gift of writing( blogging) with us! I have one teenage boy and I appreciate the wisdom and encouragement you share on the topic of raising boys. I just wanted to share a book that I’ve been reading by Dr. Gary Oliver and his late wife Carrie Oliver. It’s called, Raising Sons and Loving It! ( Helping your Boys Become Godly Men) Gary Oliver has such a heart for the Lord and he is a very dynamic speaker! If you’re not familiar with him, look him up! He has a modern day Job testimony. He’s been truly blessed with the gift of wisdom. He is a Christian psychologist very rooted in Gods word. I’m enjoying this book beyond words! Blessings!
I always enjoy reading your posts and sharing your wisdom. I wish it would have been available while I was raising my teens. Sure hope moms take to heart your advice for their comfort and to help guide and teen into adulthood. A challenge indeed. 🙂
OH Grandma Mare–So nice!! I have a feeling you did a great job on your own! 🙂
I’m not perfect but love sharing the journey with others! Much aloha to you! XO
I sit down and watch my son’s favorite TV show with him. I’m totally not into zombies but it means a lot to him that I show interest, ask questions about characters/plot and spend that time with him. In return, I notice that he sits down and watches The Voice with me and even adds performance comments 🙂
Way to go Renee! You’re reaching your son where he is at, and if it includes Zombies then you’re a seriously great mom!! 🙂
Well done. Aloha–
This is so helpful! My ten year old is just starting a bit of the moods and this comes at a great time for me. One minute he wants space and the other he wants me to come sing a song to him before bed. Thanks Monica!
Love it! You’re in good company around here. It’s not always simple or straight forward, but you’ve got this!! 🙂
This is fantastic Monica. I love every single post you write! Your teenagers are a blessed bunch! Have just sent you an email 🙂
Thank you so much! You are a big encouragement!! 🙂 Thank you so much for getting in touch!! Aloha- 🙂