3 Things Every Teen Needs To Hear From Their Parents

Jody Livingston   -  

Parenting is hard work. The truth is, no parent really knows what we’re doing. No one gave us a manual on how to parent our kid when we became a parent.

Throw in the fact every kid is uniquely different, and it seems like we’re set up for failure from the start. The added challenge of parenting our kids through different seasons and ages only makes us feel like we’re failing daily as parents. As both a youth pastor and a parent of teens, I have both watched and felt this consistently.

There are things, though, that I believe every teenager longs to hear from their parents. I don’t think these are unique to teens, but during the teenage years they need these more than other seasons. These are things we think to ourselves often, but fail to communicate these to our kids.

We would be wise and good parents to say these things often to our kids. So here are things your teen desperately needs to hear from you:

I’m Proud of You

The world today is a pressure cooker like history has never known. The constant pressure our kids feel to achieve academically is smothering and never ceases. Throw in the pressures of social media, an epidemic of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and a world that screams everything is about “you” and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Most teens feel like they are constantly failing to live up to the expectations of everyone around them. They spend most of their time worried and anxious about a future everyone tells them they should have. Every bad grade feels like an act of sabotage against the standard we expect them to live up to.

As a parent, it is easy to feel like every mistake, failure, or shortcoming of our kids is our fault. If we’re not careful, we can heap even more pressure on our kids. If we’re honest, it is easier to see the mistakes than to recognize the good things.

Our teens will feel the pressure and disappointment from so many places in their world. Very few of these places will speak encouragement into them. Yet as parents, we have the power to do so more often and more consistently than the criticism that comes their way. It is a superpower that we, as parents, often neglect.

Every child longs to hear that their parents are proud of them. I’m an adult parenting my own kids, and yet few things bring me joy, like hearing my parents are proud of me. Our kids are no different.

What if you consistently made it a point to look for things in your kids that make you proud? Not just achievements, but who they are. What about their character are you proud of? Find small things they do, catch them doing things right, and let them know you’re proud of them. When they’ve worked hard toward something, let them know you’re proud of them, whether or not they succeed. Or maybe just for no reason at all other than you just are and don’t tell them enough.

I Love You

Love is a word that is thrown around so flippantly in our culture today that it has lost much of its meaning. We “love” so many things.

In the name of love, people also do or excuse so many things. Yet, deep down, we all long to be truly known and loved. We feel this desire most powerfully in our teenage years.

During these teen years, our kids are figuring out who they are for themselves. They’re becoming the men and women they’ll one day be. The things they enjoy and the things they’re good at are being discovered. They’re wrestling with their faith and beliefs and longing for independence, but desiring to still belong.

While our teenage kids may never say it out loud, they long to know and feel we love them unconditionally.

When our kids are small, this seems to be easier than when our kids are older. For some reason, when our kids hit the teen years, we often stop expressing to them how much we love them. When our kids are young, it seems easier to tell them often how much we love them. However, when they hit their teenage years, we tend to stop expressing our affection towards them, even though they may be feeling more insecure than ever.

What would it do for our kids if they heard from us regularly that we love them?

Parents, they’re going to hear it somewhere. Others will tell them they are loved. They shouldn’t long to hear it from others, because they don’t hear it often from us.

Make it a point to regularly tell you teenager you love them. What can you do to help your kids feel loved by you as their parent this week?

It’s Going to be Alright

I’ve already mentioned the amount of anxiety and pressure our teens are dealing with. During teenage years, it’s common for emotions to be heightened, causing small things like mistakes or bad grades to feel like enormous problems. Heartbreak from relationships that “were gonna last forever” can feel the end of the world.

If we aren’t careful as parents, we can easily overreact when mistakes are made or when things don’t go as we wish they had. I can promise you this: your teenager doesn’t need another reason to feel like a failure. They certainly don’t need someone outside of themselves adding fuel to the fire when they are already feeling like they’ve ruined their life.

A calm and steady reassurance from a parent that things are going to be okay can go a long way in helping your teenager navigate and learn from failure and heartbreak. When everything around them and everything in them is screaming that it’s over and nothing will get better, they need us as parents to step in and say, “it’s going to be alright.”

These moments present an opportunity for us to point to God’s faithfulness in the past and give confidence of his grace and faithfulness in the future. We can lean into these opportunities and model our faith in front of our kids. We can remind them that “God’s got this” and He hasn’t abandoned them.

The greatest lessons we learn are from failure, heartbreak, and suffering. Our teenage kids aren’t any different. Our culture tells our kids the lie that they don’t have to experience these things. When our kids do, it comes unexpectedly. They need the wisdom from a loving parent who has traveled further down the road of life to reassure them and point them back to the hope we have in Jesus. They need a hug, a milkshake from In-N-Out, or some waffle fries from Chick-fil-a while sitting across from a parent who is saying, “it’s going to be alright.”

Teenagers hearing these three things from parents builds confidence that they are loved, cared for, and supported. It allows them the opportunity to learn from failure and mistakes without giving up on everything. It builds trust between you and your teen and opens lines of communication you’ll be glad you have.

While your kids may not seem like they need you or want you around unless they’re asking for money, the reality is they need you now more than ever. Run towards your teenager. Let them know you’re proud of them, you love them, and it’s going to be alright.