How to Respond When Your Teens Say OUT THERE Things

(Inside: How do you respond to your teens when they say “out there” things? Respond in a way that promotes wisdom, growth, and connection.)

You can’t take everything your teens say seriously.

If you want to keep your sanity intact, you just can’t.

I guarantee at some point your big kid will come home to you and say something like…

I decided…
I’m going to…
I now believe…
I want to…

Then enter the most cray-cray-dumbest-dum-dum thing that upon hearing, you will sit there looking at your teen, blinking like a pigeon.

However, this is a moment.

A sacred one, and I tell you, do not react. Channel your poker face because they are about to trust you with their thoughts.

Let their words pour out, even if they are outlandish.

Sit for a second, lean in, and say, “Tell me more.”

Then just listen.

Do not panic. Remember, their brains are not fully developed, and they’re not supposed to always be logical. That’s not how the teen years work.

Inhale. Exhale. Reply, “Interesting. I’ll have to think about that.”

And know with confidence that they need your wisdom, experience, and ability to see the bigger picture of what will have a positive impact on the entirety of their lives.

Then, pray.

Stay alert.

Here and there, in ordinary life, look for opportunities to help them gain perspective around this topic and mature through it. You can do this in a way that builds your relationship and grows your teens.

For example…

Ask questions. Don’t even worry about answers, just get the questions in their heads to ponder:

Where will this choice take you in 5 years? Or 10?
Do you think this is healthiest for you?
What if…
Every good thing casts a shadow. What shadow does this cast?
What makes you want to go in this direction?
Tell me the pros and cons…
What pressures do you feel around this?

Or encourage them to research:

Maybe take them shopping as you’re doing your own research for the best walking shoes, or whatever. Then, while trying on your pair ask, “Have you researched your new idea too? Let’s stop for lunch on the way home and read information together.”

Or find smart opinions on the subject:

There are so many podcasts from people who have “been there, done that.” Find something informative and when you’re in the car, mention, “I’ve been thinking about your idea. Can we listen to this podcast together? I thought you’d be interested and want to know your opinion.”

Or write down your thoughts:

The issue might be big enough, emotional enough, that you just need to write an honest letter with a ton of “I love you and am for you” reminders weaved in. The note gives your teens something to read, reread, and ponder while avoiding a big blown-out-of-proportion conversation.

Or get away:

Take your teens on a weekend trip. Go some place fun where everyone can relax. Look for moments to discuss the subject.

Or let it go:

Is it a mountain or a mole hole? Life can naturally mature their thinking without any intervention.

And be open:

Sometimes, these moments stretch our thinking and help us come to compromises or look at the situation from different angles. This season carries lots of kids-and-their-parents learning together.

But no matter what path you choose.

Be grateful that your child trusted you.

Then, know with your whole heart kids need parents.

It’s often easier just to forget about it and walk away, but if our kids’ thoughts/actions aren’t serving them well, they need nourishing guidance. Teachers, coaches, and other family members don’t necessarily have the patience, or they’re too polite, or they don’t have the grit to really dive in and help them figure this out.

That’s why they need you.

Their parents.

The ones who aren’t going to take everything completely at face value; instead, dig deeper and get to know them.

With love and wisdom and truth.

As everyone grows together as a family.

family at dinner table

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