Raising teens has joys and challenges, but one of the best things parents can do for their kids is to listen to them with empathy.
If you want to know what is going on inside the mind of your teenager, youth specialist, speaker and author Greg Speck says might be helpful to know what many teenagers struggle with.
“The number one topic schools ask me to speak on is bullying and that leads to insecurities and depression.”
Bullying can leave deep emotional scars with teenagers and many of them will carry around that emotional pain because of those experiences.
“So many students today struggle big time with depression. Relationships are key to them.”
Greg shares encouraging ways to understand what our teenagers are going through.
“We need to be sensitive to our children; what they’re going through, what their experiencing, and listen to them. Remember, the best time to communicate with a teenager is night time. They are typically nocturnal beings so even though you have to get up early in the morning taking some time and listening to them is huge.”
If that doesn’t work, Greg suggests another place that can open up a door to communicating with teenagers.
“Another place you’ll find a teenager will open up to you is in the car. While you’re driving you’re not looking to each other, you’re looking out the window and sometimes they’ll just start opening up. If that happens, take the long way home. Strike while the iron is hot and take advantage of opportunities to listen to your children.”
Similar to listening to our spouse, listening to teenagers is an important parenting principle that can be practiced throughout their lifetime. We need to listen with empathy in order to fully gauge what is going on in their life.
“Teenagers are typically emotional communicators, not all, but a lot of them are. When they come to you and say, ‘This has been the worst day of my life and everything went wrong!’ And our response is, ‘Well, trust in the Lord with all your heart!’ That is a wonderful Biblical truth, but that’s exactly what they don’t need to hear.”
Instead, we are encouraged to listen to them wholeheartedly and respond with similar emotion, rather than facts.
“When you respond with that emotion, it’s going to open them to the truth because they feel like you understand.”