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How Do I Develop Healthy Communication with My Teenager

Have you ever received a text message from your teenager that made you laugh? I don’t mean because the content of what was sent but from where it was sent from them. Maybe you have opened a text message only to discover that it was sent by your teenager across the house or even across the room! If you and your teenager both have cell phones this scenario has almost certainly happened to you. The question is, have you and your teenager ever had any conversations about how you will communicate as a family? Let me show you why this matters.

Maybe you remember the story of Zechariah in Luke 1 when an angel appeared with news he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son. Due to his unbelief Zechariah had his ability to speak taken from him until the day of his son’s birth. Most people did not know what Zechariah was trying to communicate or even how such confusion happened. Texting has become such a primary form of communication for us today that sometimes I wonder if the same thing has happened to us. Simply put, we need to have better communication about our communication.  

Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word spoken at the right time is like golden apples on a silver tray.” Unless we teach our teens about real communication, they will not know how to truly appreciate this verse. Our words, whether spoken in person or sent in a text from across town, are meant to say something. We must realize that how we say what we say is often as important as what we say. Similarly, technology can work for us or against us as families. It is important to have a talk about wise ways to communicate with your teenager in person and over text because it will help them learn to communicate effectively with those inside and outside your household.

Beginning a meaningful conversation about communication when things are calm is often the best way to engage in healthy communication when things are not so calm in your house. There are all sorts of ways you can go about this, but here are a few examples of expectations you can set that will lead to better communication with your teen:

  1. Sit down with your teen and talk with them and not to them. They want to know that you are listening to what they say and not what you think they are saying. 
  2. Agree that yelling is not allowed. You can’t yell at them and they can’t yell at you. Yelling shuts you both down and quickly makes you feel undervalued and disrespected.
  3. Don’t just “lay down the law” about cell phone and computer use. Allow your teenager to have input so they see why it matters. For example, maybe your teen can text while doing homework, but no cell phone is allowed within ten feet of the dinner table.
  4. Agree to never argue through texting. There is no way in the world you can know what the other person is saying unless you can at least hear the tone of voice. This is a mentally exhausting experience and truly does not help anyone nor the issue at hand.

So, invite your teen into a conversation to talk about talking. Together you can grow in how to communicate in person and over text. Communication will be the key to keeping a strong relationship so it is well worth the investment.