We’ve talked the last few months about the P in purity, the U, the R, and the I. Now we have come to the T in purity. This month we’re going to talk about TREASURING your TIME with your teens in an effort to inspire purity in them.
You may not know it but spending time with your teens can change their lives. Your values rub off on them the more you spend quality time together. You influence them to live upright lives. This time enhances your life, too, because you feel connected to them like you did when they were little.
Let’s face it though. Teens can be reluctant to spend time with anyone other than their peers. They don’t want to be with their parents if they’re suspicious of an ulterior motive. They might think you’re going to talk to them about something they’ve done wrong. Or that you’re going to complain about their messy rooms or strange friends. We want our time with our teens to be authentic and free from the things that cause strife.
What are some of the ways you can encourage time with your teens without getting that sigh of a response and the whining, “Aww, do I have to”? You could tell them that their relationships are only temporary and that you will be around long after those friends have broken their hearts and moved on down the road…but I wouldn’t suggest doing that. That is a surefire way to drive your teens further away from you.
First of all, I recommend something simple: eating together. Everyone loves to eat. Eating relaxes us. When we’re relaxed, we tend to chat. You get the picture?
Our busy lives do not always lend themselves to nightly family dinners around the dinner table but since there are twenty-one meals and multiple snack times during the week, we can purposefully plan at least one or two “eating meetings” together. Surely. If your life is so busy that you can’t have one family meal once a week, maybe it’s time to rearrange your schedule.
Studies have proven that eating together brings a family together. Even if you’re sitting on the couch eating and watching a TV show together chatting during the commercials about the show, you’re still spending time together. Maybe this TV show is a favorite and you can plan to watch it together every week. My family loves to watch shows like WIPEOUT, Duck Dynasty, and a few other shows. We laugh and plot and chat all throughout the programs and I love that time together.
Communication is the goal in all activities with your teen. Regularly eating together will stimulate conversation in a non-threatening way and that, in time, stimulates your teens to trust you with the things they are passionate and/or troubled about. When the lines of communication are opened, you’ve got an instant cracked-open window into the hearts of your teens.
One important thing about communication with teens is remembering to let them do the talking. Ask them questions about their lives that require more than a nod of the head or a grunt. You want them to answer more than “yes” or “no”.
Even if you don’t particularly like their favorite band, listen to their music while in the car. Ask them what it is about the music that draws them to it. Ask them to help you see what they see. And do not criticize them for liking that style of music. Remember, it’s okay to agree to disagree on it. I don’t really like all the music my son likes but I understand why he likes it and he understands why I don’t.
- have coffee at their favorite coffee shop
- go shopping
- help them paint their rooms
- take them to an amusement park (but only if both of you can stomach the rides)
- go fishing or hunting
- practice driving skills
- help them shop for their first car
- teach them to cook
- help them clean their rooms without passing judgment on the mess
…Encourage your teens to suggest a movie you can rent and watch together. Or think of a game to play or some other group activity (like a jigsaw puzzle or a Lego building project). Find a book that you and your teen will mutually enjoy and read it and discuss it. When you’re together, make plans for the next family time.
There are so many things you can do together that will lead to relaxation and a letting down of their guard. Teens have to feel as though they can trust you before they will share their lives with you. If you’ve not had a super communicative relationship with them up to this point, they will be standoffish at first to the idea of spending time with you. They may even be like a stray dog that isn’t sure if the food you’re offering is good for them or full of poison. Teens don’t like to feel trapped or backed into a corner. Give them room to breathe. Let things take time to blossom between you.
When it comes to the friends of your teen, make your home open to them. Let your home be a place where they can gather and be noisy and eat everything in your pantry. When your teens feel comfortable bringing their friends over and their friends feel comfortable with you and your home, your teens will feel comfortable with you. This breeds closeness with you. And that will cause them to love you more and to listen to your instruction. That will inspire them to live a life of purity.
You may not realize it but these days pass all too quickly and you can’t get them back once they are gone. So treasure your time with your teens and encourage them to open up to you about the things that are going on in their lives. Let them see you studying the Word and trusting God for your every need. One thing I remember about my childhood is that my parents studied the Bible every day. They didn’t have to go around the house spouting off scripture or stuffing it down my throat. They led me to Jesus by their example.
Romans 12:1-2 says: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
This world will tell you that spending time with your teens is a waste of time. That it takes away from your “me” time. That they won’t listen to you anyway. But the scriptures tell us of the importance of having a renewed mind and not being conformed to the pattern of the world. If you spend time with your teens treasuring every little quirk and habit they have, you will come to see them as precious children of God (and of you) and you will desire to pour yourself into them and to encourage them along their purity walk.
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3)