Every birthday and every Christmas, parents ask for and get a wish list from their children. Some Bay Area family parents will drive from store to store, make phone calls, and spend excessive amounts of money to get the #1 item on their child’s list. Their desire is to make a special occasion one they will never forget. But often by the next holiday or special occasion, that present is long forgotten and their child’s wish list has a new next “big thing”.
But when kids become teens, the list starts to change. Usually presents get more expensive, but the unspoken truth is, there is a secret list of things teens really want from their parents. This list is not about material things, but about the heart. Few teens will admit to having this list, but after collecting thoughts from some high school and college students we compiled a list of five things your teens really want from you:
1. An answer – what it was like for you in high school?
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
1 Corinthians 9:22 NIV
Kids need to know that they aren’t alone in what they are going through. Teens feel a lot of peer pressure and make many mistakes in high school, and benefit from hearing from your experiences. God wants us to relate to one another and Paul understood this. Relating to the experiences your child is going through is the gift money can’t buy and will never loose its value.
2. A listening ear
Ears to hear and eyes to see— both are gifts from the LORD.
Proverbs 20:12 (NLT)
One of the best gifts a parent can give their child is a listening ear. The bible is filled with scriptures describing God as a great listener. In the same way, parents should seek to listen. Listening creates trust, shows respect for your child, and is the first step in solving the inevitable problems and challenges that come with the teen years.
3. To know your weaknesses
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Every student feels pressure. The pressure to get good grades, get approval from their peers, and make their parents proud of them. During this time, teens feel like they can’t share their mess-ups or mistakes. Paul was someone who identified that God was all about weaknesses.
God says that by sharing our weaknesses, we access His power. Being honest about your own weaknesses will give your children the opportunity to see the many ways God is great and helps us overcome.
4. For you to consider the impact of your actions
Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much but harvested little. You eat but never have enough…
Haggai 1:5-6 (NIV)
Teens watch what you do. They also pick up on motives. Kids see what goes on at home, but few get the chance to talk about it. The bible says we need to “give careful thought” to our ways. This scripture teaches us that our actions don’t always result in the outcome we want. God is very interested in the outcome of our ways.
Take time to consider your actions and the effect they have on your children. Are they really producing the outcome you want? Ask your children what they think and how they feel about what goes on at home.
5. To feel your support
Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)
Life eventually dampens the idealism children have. As teens enter high school and go on to college, classes get more challenging and the influence of peer pressure becomes greater. Teens look for ways to find support both physically and emotionally. By the teen years, parents are well practiced at providing for the physical needs of their children, but often fall behind the many emotional needs that develop through middle school and high school.
Ultimately only God can truly meet all the needs of our teens, but as parents we can be the support, the helping hand, the cheerleader or the listener that leads our children to God.