Pastor Jonathan Chow

One thing I often hear parents of teenagers say is, “my child doesn’t want to talk to me anymore.” It seems like this is a common obstacle for many parents today. But the truth is that there is nothing a teenager wants more than a parent who is there for them.

So why do we have such a hard time engaging with each other? I think a lot of it is due to how we interact. Maybe you always want to fix things – but your child just wants someone to listen. So, they start avoiding telling you their problems. Or maybe you have strong views on a topic – so to avoid conflict, your child stops talking to you about it.

The book “Growing With” calls parenting “a mutual journey of intentional growth for both ourselves and our children that trusts God to transform us all.” Children are not the only ones whom God teaches through the process; he’s stretching parents too. So here are three things I think we can be learning as parents:

Learn your child’s love languages. Most people understand that love is an action, but we often forget that love also needs to be received. My mum expresses love through acts of service – such as cooking dinner for the family. But my main love language is quality time – so instead of feeling loved by her cooking I just felt that she would never let me learn how to cook. Learning how you and your child express and receive love will bring you closer together.

Learn to see the world through the eyes of today’s youth. Today’s world is much more different than you think. Culture moves so fast that even young adults in their 20s probably can’t fully relate to an early teen. That doesn’t mean you should sign up to all the new social media platforms! But engage yourself with the world of your teen. Then let them into the world you know. It’s not a contest of whose world is better – make it an adventure exploring each other’s worlds.

Learn to listen. You know the saying: “We have 2 ears and 1 mouth.” We can forget that a young person is as much made in the image of God as we are. Listen to your child’s stories, successes and struggles and you’ll be enriched by seeing the world from a different perspective.

Your child does want to talk to you. More than that they want someone who will listen to them, will value them for who they are and has their back. Be a listener, make yourself available, and you will reap a blossoming relationship.