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Ways to Show Teenagers That You Care

MsDora is a parent, grandparent, and Christian counselor who offers suggestions on raising confident, compassionate, responsible children.

Parents cannot afford to withhold affection.

Parents cannot afford to withhold affection.

You’ve cuddled them through their infancy and held their hands through their childhood. What do you do now to show that you care when they push you away and prefer not to talk?

No matter how distant teenagers may seem, parents cannot afford to withhold affection. Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., researcher in positive youth development counsels that teens need to “feel seen, felt, and understood. . . When teens feel emotionally attached to their parents, they develop internal strengths that last a lifetime.”1

Following are eight practical ways to maintain emotional attachment between adults and teens. This is not a checklist but a guide for adults who are intent on demonstrating love while they help build meaningful relationships with their teenage dependents.

  • Discover their needs.
  • Discuss their fears.
  • Give them responsibilities.
  • Compliment their strengths.
  • Meet their friends.
  • Listen to their opinions.
  • Forgive their mistakes.
  • Help them set goals.

1. Discover Their Needs

What drives them to behave the way they do, or to make the choices they select? The answer to these questions are important keys to understanding teenagers.

Teens have various needs—for love, comfort, popularity, security, a sense of belonging and other emotional basics. Without moral guidance, they try to fulfill these needs with sex, drugs, bullying and other destructive acts.

Some are not even aware of what drives them. If adults can help them figure that out, the teens may allow the adults to present moral and legitimate options to fulfill their needs and bring positive rewards.

2. Discuss Their Fears

Teenagers have fears and some never tell. They smile, joke or get angry to cover up what they feel. Imagine how relieved they would be to find someone who actually observes them enough to detect their fears, and then try to help them gain confidence.

The following short list of teenagers' fears is extracted from two different sources:2,3

  • negative situations (like divorce and lack of finances) in the family,
  • non-acceptance by their peers,
  • improper responses to their sexual urges,
  • peer pressure and bullying,
  • becoming victims of crime or violence,
  • academic failure.

The adult who becomes privy to the teenagers’ fears has the opportunity to validate their feelings, and offer emotional refuge.

Responsibilities.add self-worth.

Responsibilities.add self-worth.

3. Give Them Responsibilities

Nothing boosts the independent spirit like responsibility. If teenagers expect all their needs to be met without any responsibility on their part, it is because their parents are creating irresponsible adults. Preparation for productive adulthood requires that teenagers make some form of contribution to their own upkeep.4 If they earn, they can be allowed some financial responsibilities.

They all have time. They can help with the laundry, yard care, or pets. No matter what, they are responsible for maintaining their academic progress and obeying the rules of the house concerning friends and curfews. Responsibilities builds self-worth and in time, teenagers appreciate that.

4. Compliment Their Strengths

One of my friends was having lunch at a restaurant when four teenage boys walked in. She said that not only were they properly dressed—shirt neatly tucked in, no sight of their underwear—but their deportment at the table was just classy. As they approached the cashier, she walked up behind them and announced, “I’m paying.”

One of them asked why. She told him, “I’ll gladly buy lunch for young people who conduct themselves the way you do.”

Whatever the character strength of teenagers, show admiration, express encouragement and offer support. Help make them stronger.

5. Meet Their Friends

Make your teenagers' friends feel welcome in your space. If they feel free to visit, you will learn more about them. Knowing them also makes it is easier to know your teen's whereabouts; and it decreases the chances of your teen having secret friends.

Interest in their friends may not earn you a hug, but deep down in their hearts, they interpret your interest as love and care, especially when they hear other teens complain about being ignored by their parents or guardians.

If possible, meet the parents of your teenagers’ friends. Parental group support helps to offset teenage peer pressure.

SHAPE teacher helps out teen student.

SHAPE teacher helps out teen student.

6. Listen to Their Opinions

How refreshing for a teenager to find an adult who not only recognizes that he has personal opinions, but also listens to how they evolved.

You may not agree with him, but you can commend him for independent thinking. State your disagreements respectfully and let him know that ultimately, his convictions are his choice.

For the teens, the discussion is all about detaching the apron string. For the adults, it is about discovering what the teens believe, and keeping the door open for healthy discussions. Sometimes the teen will learn something, sometimes the adult will.

7. Forgive Their Mistakes

This should not be difficult if adults remember that teens are not yet adults; and that even adults makes mistakes. However, there are certain elements to making forgiveness effective:

  • Help the teen figure out exactly was wrong about the action.
  • Re-affirm the principle that was violated.
  • Assure the teen that both your reprimand (when there is one) and your forgiveness are by-products of your love and concern.
  • Express your commitment to helping him move forward, no matter how many times he stumbles.

8. Help Them Set Goals

Help the teens discover their purpose--theirs, not yours. Help them set goals--theirs not yours--and establish steps towards their success. Some have a clear vision earlier than others; be patient while you help them to focus.

Feed their sense of purpose with motivational stories and quotes which adults told you in your teens. Spend money, time and effort to help them prepare for opportunities in their line of interest.

Above all, let them know that you are blessed for the God-given privilege to share their lives; that no matter how it appears to them, you love them and will remain committed to helping them succeed.

References

1. Price-Mitchell, Marilyn: Psychology Today, The Moment of Youth, 50 Everyday Ways to Love Your Teen (11/05/2013)

2. Rainer, Dr. Thom: Christianity Today, The Top Ten Fears of Our Youth, Copyright 2003 by Dr. Thom Rainer

3. Parenting and Child Health: Fears and phobias - older children and teenagers (11/12/2013)

4. Schreiner, Erin: Global Post, Ten Responsibilities for Teens Copyright 2014 GlobalPost-International

© 2014 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 27, 2016:

Mona, thanks for reading. Happy for you and your daughter that she turned out well. Best to both of you!

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on March 27, 2016:

Dear Ms. Dora,

What a wonderful article this is. I wish I read it when my daughter was still a teen. She's now an adult, but I compare your points with her teenage life, and there is so much wisdom in all of your points. I particularly like the point about exploring their fears. Sad to say, I was more preoccupied with my own fears for her than fears that she had. But God is good, she has come out to be a daughter I can truly be proud of. How wonderful that other parents of teens can go through your pointers and see how they compare to each one. Being a teenager is such a vulnerable time in a child's life.

Love,

Mona

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 13, 2016:

Oh, Alexis, it is worth look forward to; there are challenges which extract your wisdom as a parent.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 13, 2016:

Rajan, thanks for your wise input. Wish all parents saw this as their responsibility.

Ashley Ferguson from Indiana/Chicagoland on February 13, 2016:

This is all great advice when dealing with teens. I'll be getting there sooner than later, and I'll be keeping this article to reflect on. :)

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 12, 2016:

Very useful suggestions. As a child grows up and matures it imperative that a parent becomes a friend for him/her to confide in. Only then can we hope to have an emotionally stable adult who knows his responsibilities and conducts himself/herself appropriately.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 02, 2016:

Geri, thanks for your very encouraging comment. As you suggest, we can all share the responsibility of making teenagers feel needed and purposeful.

Geri McClymont on February 02, 2016:

A very helpful article not only for parents but also for teachers or anybody who works regularly with teens. Understanding their needs and helping them discover their purpose are the points that stood out to me the most. Lack of belonging and purpose is what drives many teens to join gangs, or worse. We all need to be ready to step in and help guide them in a positive direction, especially if they are not receiving the guidance they need from their parents.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 01, 2016:

Thanks, Marlene, for reading and sharing. I am encouraged.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on February 01, 2016:

This is truly valuable information. I want (need) to share this with my sphere with hopes that your lessons will help them cope with their teens.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 27, 2016:

Swalia, sometimes determination just looks like stubbornness. Best to you and your son going forward.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 27, 2016:

Indre, glad you find the article useful. Thanks for your feedback.

Shaloo Walia from India on January 27, 2016:

A very useful hub! Sometimes I am at a loss as to how to deal with my stubborn teenager. Your suggestions are quite valuable.

Indrė Šilkaitytė from Vilnius, Lithuania on January 27, 2016:

Very informative and useful artical. Thank You, MsDora :)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 23, 2016:

Sujaya, glad you found it useful. Thanks for weighing in.

sujaya venkatesh on January 22, 2016:

a very useful hub indeed

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 21, 2016:

Isa, thanks for reading and commenting. Would be happy to hear that the article helped you communicate with your daughters. Best to you lovely three!

Lisa Kroulik from North Dakota on January 21, 2016:

What a great article. I'm a proud mom of 19 and 16 year old daughters. While I love them dearly, I've been fumbling for a while on ways to connect with them. Bookmarked this one!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 28, 2014:

Thank you, Janis. Your observation in true, not only in our dealing with teens, but in all our relationships.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 27, 2014:

Marlene, glad that your grandson's visit was a pleasure; your understanding will be very helpful in his passage through this difficult phase. Thanks for your comment.

Janis from California on September 27, 2014:

The teenage years can be quite challenging for parents at times. The part about forgiving isn't always easy, but it's so important.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on September 26, 2014:

Recently, I had the pleasure of having my teenage grandson with me for a few days. He is such a sweet child, but like any teen he is going through some ordinary teenage issues. This is such a helpful guide for parents with teens. You always have wonderful solutions to everyday life situations. I definitely must share this.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 16, 2014:

Tasha, your comment is chockfull of truth. Thanks for your advocate support on behalf of the teens.

Natasha Pelati from South Africa on September 16, 2014:

Teenagers! oh boy! It is correct to give them responsibilities and love, unconditional no matter what choices they make. They might make us angry and sometimes distance themselves in the world of tv and playstation but when you blink they are grown up and wanting to leave home. We need to give as much love and attention as we possibly can before they don't want it anymore!

Ann Carr from SW England on September 05, 2014:

I do tell her often how great I think she is and I always admire her photos; she and I go on 'photo walks' together, she writes too (one children's story with me) and she draws and paints; all the things I love to do but better (except perhaps the writing but that will easily surpass me in time).

We have fun together, including a day in Paris a couple of years ago.

Thanks for your support. Ann

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 05, 2014:

Thank you, Ann. Let your grand-daughter hear you express your admiration for her; they love to please the ones who admire them. You will find reason to change your fear into trust. Proud of you for your attitude toward her!

Ann Carr from SW England on September 05, 2014:

These are the wisest words I've read for a long time.

I have a teenage granddaughter. Her mother does many of the above and so do I but your points are so important for all to read. I sometimes get scared that my granddaughter might fall in with the wrong crowd; she is so sweet now. But I have faith in her sweet disposition and her depth of character so I am optimistic; she's already overcome bullying and she has great hobbies, being a talented photographer.

I love the story of the lady who paid for the teenagers' lunch; what a great thing to do and the best reward. We're very quick to criticise but not so eager to reward, I think.

I'm amazed I'm not following you already as I've seen your comments on many other hubs, so I'm off to do just that right away. Up++ and shared.

Ann

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 04, 2014:

Elsie, glad you were touched. Those of us who care just have to continue doing what we possible can. Thanks for sharing.

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on September 04, 2014:

Great hub. I voted it up! This is a subject after my own heart. It brought tears to my eyes, we see so much of unhappy children these days and how it affixes them latter down the track.So sad. Thanks.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 31, 2014:

Mothers, we can relate to parental confusion. God knows that it is a tough job, but it is all about loving His precious gifts to us, the way He loves us--first, unconditionally and always!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 31, 2014:

Teaches, love can do wonders to our teenagers. "Love never fails" (l Corinthians 13:8); we just have to add patience.

Mothers of Nations on August 31, 2014:

So well said! It's great to have these reminders. My oldest is more receptive now than she was 2 years ago (thank God because I was almost lost, but I stayed faithful in prayer and the Lord stayed faithful with His guidance, Amen.)

My 2nd child has entered this phase and being that he's male, there certain things he's reluctant to discuss with mom (& mom wants to know everything lol.)

These guidelines are a blessing, especially during these times of teenage (& parental) confusion. God brought me to this article on just the right day!

God bless you, Ms.Dora! I'm grateful for you :-)

Dianna Mendez on August 31, 2014:

Thank you for reminding me of how precious these years are and how we can make a difference when we add love to the factor.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 28, 2014:

Abby, good to hear from you. I do not doubt that our older kids can benefit as well. Thanks for your input.

Dr Abby Campbell from Charlotte, North Carolina on August 28, 2014:

MsDora - This is a wonderful hub that I believe we can still use for our children even into adulthood. Two thumbs up!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 27, 2014:

Thanks Denise. I like the term "budding adults." They need our help to become the kind of adults we'd like them to become.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on August 27, 2014:

This is a beautiful treatise on how to raise healthy, happy teenagers! So often we hear people speak of them as if they were foreigners in their own household! How much better if we treat them as we would like to be treated! They are budding adults, and will soon be away from us. It is our job to get them ready to be on their own.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 27, 2014:

Hi MD. Thanks for your visit. You can still use these article for the good of the teens around you. Best to you!

Martin D Gardner from Virginia Beach on August 26, 2014:

Excellent advice Ms. Dora. I could have used this hub a few years ago. :) I need to improve on all of these areas. Thanks for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 26, 2014:

Thanks Marie, I couldn't have said it any better.I appreciate your valuable input.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 26, 2014:

Mathi, thanks for your input. I love your counsel. "You should take a step back to make them live their life, but you should also step forward when they need your help."

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on August 25, 2014:

These are really great ideas. Rather than always finding fault or judging, it is good to take the time out to get to know the teenagers around you and what they care about and who they hope to be. I think there is always some common ground when you take the time to listen.

mathira from chennai on August 25, 2014:

MsDora,

Teenage is a confused world. It is a transition period to adulthood. They have lots of doubts. Parents have a great role to play in this phase your child's life. You should take a step back to make them live their life, but you should also step forward when they need your help. Excellent tips and suggestions.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 25, 2014:

Sheila, it seems that have a keen parental instinct towards your nieces and nephews even though you did not produce them. Your attitude towards them as "the adults they're becoming" is excellent. Thanks for your input.

sheilamyers on August 25, 2014:

Awesome hub! I've never had kids, but I think this is great advice for me because I do spend time with teenaged nieces and nephews. I'm not sure why, but I feel I do these things much more than some of the parents I know. Is that because I classify myself as very independent and, even as an adult, hate when people don't see me as an individual with something valuable to offer? I just think that although teens are still children in some regards and still have parental rules to live by, they also need to be treated more like the adults they're becoming.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 25, 2014:

Thanks, Nadine. Wish there was a way to get it to every parent. You encourage me.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on August 25, 2014:

This is an article every parent should read. Very wise advice.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 25, 2014:

Frank, thanks for your kind comment. I appreciate you.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on August 25, 2014:

Msdora this article speaks volumes.. the tips stands out well written my friend :)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 25, 2014:

Thanks Flourish. There is still so much we all have to learn.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 25, 2014:

Ologsinquito, good habit you established, Thank you for sharing.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 25, 2014:

This is such wonderful advice for parents, grandparents, or others important in a young person's life. Great hub, MsDora!

ologsinquito from USA on August 25, 2014:

I've always felt it was important to get to know my children's friends, and I'm happy when they're around the house. I want them to feel welcome here.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 25, 2014:

Colleen, that's an important observation--they're young adults. Thanks for your input.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 25, 2014:

Thanks, DDE. There's just so much more learn about our precious teenagers.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 25, 2014:

Eric, thanks for stopping by. I say follow your heart; there are several different ways to contribute to the lives of teenagers.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 25, 2014:

Thanks Bill. I keep learning lots from you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 25, 2014:

Faith, thanks for sharing. You gained a great advantage by providing a welcome in your home for your son and his friends.

Colleen Swan from County Durham on August 25, 2014:

Interesting article. I think we tend to forget that they are no longer children. They now require reasoning included in any advice we give them.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 24, 2014:

Teenagers certainly have their own thoughts and dealing with their everyday battles can be frustrating. Another informative hub from you about a so well-known issue.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 24, 2014:

OMG I have no teenager in my life right now! Better get back to youth preaching and get some so I can apply Dora and make a difference in a good way.

Love you

e

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 24, 2014:

Great title, wonderful suggestions, right on as always, Dora.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 24, 2014:

Wonderful hub, dear MsDora. It is critical that we truly listen to our teens and interested in what they have to say, as they tend to respect you much more than when we just tell them what to do and what not to do, and always focusing on what they are doing wrong.

I would do a lot of things differently, but at least my son and his friends loved coming to our home, as I did try to relate to them and they knew I was interested in what they were passionate about in this life.

I hope this hub helps many parents of teens as you have provided a lot of great insight here for a better relationship with teens.

Up ++++ and away

God bless you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 24, 2014:

Yes, Lori. God gives us wisdom and we do improve with the years. So glad about the communication you enjoy with your sons. Thank you for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 24, 2014:

Thanks Jackie. I also applaud my friend for such positive reinforcement on those young men. Random acts of kindness in response to their good conduct goes a long way. Thanks for your contribution.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 24, 2014:

Word, it takes a caring person to know one. Thank you very much for your kind words and your affirmation.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 24, 2014:

Rachael, some people think that grand-parenting is God's chance for us to improve on our parenting. It is true that if we pay attention, we do a much better job, and both our children and grandchildren should appreciate that. Thanks for your input.

Lori Colbo from United States on August 24, 2014:

Dora I loved this. I especially like the suggestion of discussing their opinion because most parents don't care or never think to ask them. I made that mistake - not thinking to ask them. When they did give one we had a conversation, but only my youngest two ever expressed opinions (I had four). As I look back I see so many mistakes I made. However, now I talk to my boys often and I love hearing and discussing their opinions.

All that you talked about here, it is imperative that parent's start these things very early in the child's life. If they don't, implementing the things you suggest will be very difficult.

Great Job here MsDora.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 24, 2014:

That was really sweet what your friend did and we should indeed do more things like that to show appreciation. Gee, God played a good one on us with those teen years didn't He? I never see teens anymore I guess they are all off texting somewhere! Really.

This is great and I only had two teens thank God cause I don't think I could have took a third! You have some really great ideas and advice and I have never read better. ^+

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on August 24, 2014:

Hello my dear friend, You are so very caring. I'm not surprised that you wrote with such care for teens as well as you did. We shouldn't look the other way when it comes to our teens. We should try to understand them better and help where it is needed most. Giving them attention with love makes all the better difference. Thank you MsDora :-)

Rachael O'Halloran from United States on August 24, 2014:

This is another valuable article for parents, grandparents and teens as well.

I think it is funny as I look back and compare when my kids were teenagers and now when my grandchildren are teenagers. I was a good mother to teenagers then, but I am a much better Granny to teenagers now. I think as we age we allow teenagers (all young people) more latitude than we did when we were raising teenagers.

And that's a good thing I think in today's world when teens don't feel they can talk to their parents about things that they talk with their grandparents. My daughter says I am a much better parent now that she is older and has children than she remembers as she was growing up. I don't know if that is a good thing or not. lol

Telling her that parenting was different in those days and that grandparenting has a lot more benefits than parenting is something all our grown children will have to learn on their own.

Voted up, interesting and awesome!

They can send grandchildren back to their parents

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