Parenting - Teens

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Shared Hobby, Part Two

Dear Parent,

I know raising a teenager is hard work. Probably harder than you ever thought possible sometimes! And when some of you read my first email, you probably thought finding a hobby that you could agree on with your teenager was next to impossible let alone putting it into practice! But I want to just encourage you not to quit trying!

You may have even asked your teenager what they thought about sharing a hobby with you and all you got was the usual eye roll and grunt! But can I just share with you what you have already accomplished by just asking them about it?

You have given them value! You have said, “I think you are interesting enough that I want to figure out how to spend time with you outside of our normal lives!” You have let them know that in our time-starved world, you choose them. You choose to invest money, time, and effort into their lives.

That’s big! And that is just communicated because you asked them what they thought of the idea? Can you imagine what it says to them when you actually follow through and find a hobby that you can share together?! It could be a game changer in your relationship with your teenager!

One of the things that I love to study about Jesus is how He gave value to his disciples and followers by just spending time with them. He listened to their thoughts and knew what they loved. He cared about how they felt and what they knew.

Finding a hobby is not just about finding something fun that you and your teen can enjoy together. It is about…

Getting to know this amazing individual that is growing into an adult that one day will be your friend.

Allowing them to get to know you as an individual with tastes and dreams and wishes.

Giving them a safe place to put this crazy world aside for a few hours.

Telling them that you love them through actions because we all know that our words don’t always make it past the cell phone they happen to be texting on.

Encouraging them to learn what they love and can be passionate about no matter the labels they may wear at school or even home.

Even teaching them about God’s creative side through all the things He has put in this world for us to enjoy!

And we thought hobbies were just time wasters. Hobbies can actually be the memories that we make with our teens that they will always remember!

Walking with you!

Kim Constantino

Shared Hobby

Dear Parent,

This month, I want to encourage you to begin something new in your relationship with your teenager. Shake off the staleness of the same ole’ day in and day out and start fresh! A great way to do that is to find a hobby that you can share with your teen. Something you both can become passionate about!

And that means asking your teenager their opinion on this! What do they like, what do you like, what are their interests, and what are yours? Write them all down and then find a common thread that you can work with.

There is something powerful in watching a son and his dad play golf together, or a mom and her daughter go hiking together or a parent and their teen reading the same book while they share coffee at a coffee shop together.

God has given us a very valuable gift and it is called time. Psalms 31:15 says, “My times are in Your hand…” I know that time is hard to come by with all of the commitments that we have.

Think of how much more valuable our time would be if we took it out of our hands and placed it in God’s by creating a time that we could share with our teenager…a time that you could get to know each other as individuals by sharing a hobby. A hobby is so much more than doing something that is fun. It is creating an avenue where relationship can blossom!

We’ll finish this session today with a video that will help you get started…

Kim Constantino

Lines of Communication, Part 2

Dear Parent,

Hopefully, you have had an opportunity to watch this month’s video about communication. If not, I really want to encourage you to take just a few minutes to watch it!
Communication with your teen is vitally important to the health of your relationship! But communication is changing as fast as your teen is!
I want to give you a few ideas to help you with this very important issue.

  1. Sit down with your teen and talk with them and not to them. They want to know that you are really 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. It shuts you both down and 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. For example, 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 tone of voice.

There are sooo many other ideas, but these should get you rolling.

It is vitally important that you teach your teenager that communication is not with the fingers on a keypad, but it is tone of voice and hand gestures and wise choice of words.

Remember, Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word spoken at the right time is like golden apples on a silver tray.” But unless we teach our teens about real communication, they will not know how to truly appreciate this verse!

Walking with you!

Kim Constantino

Lines of Communication

Dear Parent,

Do you remember the story in Luke 1 when the angel appeared to the priest, Zechariah, to tell him that he and his elderly wife, Elizabeth, would have a son and name him John? Zechariah doubtfully questioned the angel, and swift consequences followed. His ability to speak was taken from him until the day of his son’s birth. Why is that important? Zechariah’s ability to communicate clearly with people was removed and they had no clear idea what had happened. Is that happening today?

Here is another way to ask this question. Do you know what ROFL, 831, 9, BWL mean? If not, then our teen’s style of communication and our style is very different. These are considered texting shorthand. And this is why our teens must know how important real communication is. For those of us who are a little uninformed when it comes to texting shorthand, the following is a list of the definitions of the above shorthand:
ROFL – rolling on floor laughing
831 – I love you
9 – parent watching
BWL – bursting with laughter
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to have a conversation with your teen when they won’t even make eye contact because they are glued to the screen of their phone or tablet. Or are we the culprit? Do we immerse ourselves in the digital world to the point that our teens can’t get OUR attention?
We are going to be talking about opening those lines of communication with our teen this month. And we can either make technology work for us or against us. How about we WTO (win this one)! Made that one up all by myself.

Here’s a quick video filled with more encouragement for you:

Walking with you!

Kim Constantino


Dear Parent,

Do you remember Charlie Brown’s teacher or grandmother or whatever adult happened to be on the other end of that telephone line with him? The only conversation we ever heard Charlie Brown have with them was punctuated with “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah…” as the adults response to him. Do you feel that it is also all your teenager hears when you speak? Wah, wah, wah!

Let me ask you a question you may have never considered. Do our teenagers think that is all we hear when they try to talk to us? Hmmm. Hadn’t thought of that? Couldn’t possibly be! Here is a great test to see if that is true. After your teen talks, do you start your partwith the phrase, “Yes, but….”? If so, that means you probably haven’t listened. You have spent the time that they were talking formulating a response, or an answer, or even a brilliant idea that they just have to hear since it is coming from parental wisdom!

I think you probably have many of the answers to so many of your teens questions and problems. You have experience and age on your side! But sometimes the best lessons your teen will ever learn, and the lessons that stick the hardest are the ones that they learn themselves. Without the correct answer, but with the listening ear of their biggest fan. You!

Often we beg God to make our teen just listen. How about we, as parents, first ask Him to give us an ear, not just to hear, but to listen!

The next part of this week’s online parenting class is a short video that furthers the conversation.  I’d love to hear what you think of it:

Walking with you,

Kim Constantino

Broken Trust, Part Two

Dear Parent,

“How could you hurt me like that?” Have you ever wanted to scream those words in the face of your teen? Or at least murmur them in passing? Although screaming might be somewhat of a stress reducer!

Your teen often has no idea the power that they hold over you to hurt your heart as a parent. That’s why sometimes they don’t understand why you have to take a step back in order to process what they have just done or said that brings you pain.

In order for our teens to learn how to restore trust with us, they also have to learn that sometimes we just need a moment to work through the pain that they just caused us. Anytime something causes pain, our initial reaction is to push away. We can’t do that when it is our teenager causing the pain.

When King David broke trust with God by taking another man’s wife and then killing that same man (I Samuel 11 & 12) God didn’t immediately confront David. I Samuel 11:27 says, “When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her (Bathsheba) to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.” The time of mourning for Jews was at the least 30 days, and it also says that Bathsheba bore David a son by the time the prophet Nathan appeared to tell David what God had to say.

My point in sharing this story with you is to remind you that when your teenager makes a choice that is diametrically opposed to Godly principles you have always taught, you need to take a moment or a day or even longer to work through the anger, the fear, and the sadness of the results of broken trust. You will be better able to help your teen understand that their choices affect so many more people than just themselves. You can teach them how to take responsibility, ask for forgiveness, and recognize how to restore that trust with you. Whether you know it or not, your trust is very valuable to your teen. Have you ever lost something of value? How much more valuable is it to you when you find it again? Don’t you take better care of it?

And so will your teen.

Walking with you,

Kim Constantino

Broken Trust

Dear Parent,

Nobody told you when you had children how personal it would feel when that very same child made a mistake that broke your trust. Nobody told you how much it would hurt your feelings. And, I don’t even know if anyone ever told you how important it would be to let your teen know that trust can be restored!

But let me tell you now! It is imperative that your teenager knows that no matter how big of a mistake or a mess they make, you haven’t slammed the door on them. Sometimes that is really, really hard.

Teenagers have no idea that the decisions they make, good and bad, are absorbed into the very heart of you, their parent. And, as parents, you often give that decision great influence over your confidence as a parent! Let me say this and please hear me. The choices your teenagers make do not define you as a parent! They are your teenager’s choice.

Your job was and has always been to teach them what is right and then give them the freedom to choose. The second part of that same job is to teach them about the consequences of all choices. And when that choice is made in the heat of the moment that is guided by maturing teenage logic and wisdom (or lack thereof), we as a parent need to let that teen know trust can be restored. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but at some point that trust can be brought back to its original condition.

Walking with you,

Kim Constantino