Ways to Show Teenagers That You Care

You’ve cuddled them through their infancy and held their hands through their childhood. What do you do now to show that you care when touching is awkward and conversation is challenging?

Photo by Jourden C
Photo by Jourden C | Source

No matter how distant teenagers may seem, parents cannot afford to withhold affection. Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., researcher in positive youth development counsels that teens need to “feel seen, felt, and understood. . . When teens feel emotionally attached to their parents, they develop internal strengths that last a lifetime.”1

Following are nine practical ways to maintain emotional attachment between adults and teens. This is not a checklist but a guide for adults willing to demonstrate love while they help mold teens into productive citizens.

Nine Practical Ways to Show Teenagers That You Really Care

1. Discover Their Needs
2. Explore Their Fears
3. Give Them Responsibilities
4. Promote Their Strengths
5. Consider Their Flaws
6. Meet Their Friends
7. Discuss Their Opinions
8. Forgive Their Mistakes
9. Subscribe to Their Vision

1. Discover Their Needs

What drives them to be who they are, or to do what they do? The answer to this question is the key to understanding teenagers.

Teens have various needs—for power, for popularity, for security and other emotional basics. Without moral guidance, they try to fulfill these needs with sex, drugs, bullying and other destructive acts.

Some are not even aware of what drives them. If adults can help them figure that out, the teens may allow them to present moral and legitimate options to fulfill their needs and bring positive rewards.

2. Explore Their Fears

Teenagers have fears and some never tell. They smile, joke or get angry to cover up what they feel. Imagine how relieved they would be to find someone who actually observes them enough to detect their fears, and then try to help them gain confidence.

The following short list of teenagers' fears is extracted from two different sources:2,3

  • negative situations (like divorce and lack of finances) in the family
  • non-acceptance by their peers
  • improper responses to their sexual urges
  • peer pressure and bullying
  • becoming victims of crime or violence
  • academic failure

The adult who becomes privy to the teenagers’ fears has the opportunity to validate their feelings, and offer emotional refuge.

3. Give Them Responsibilities

Photo by Peter van der Sluijs
Photo by Peter van der Sluijs | Source

Nothing boosts the independent spirit like responsibility. If teenagers expect all their needs to be met without any responsibility on their part, it is because their parents are creating irresponsible adults. Preparation for productive adulthood requires that teenagers make some form of contribution to their own upkeep.4 If they earn, they can be allowed some financial responsibilities.

They all have time. They can help with the laundry, yard care, or pets. No matter what, they are responsible for maintaining their academic progress and obeying the rules of the house concerning friends and curfews. Responsibilities builds self-worth and in time, teenagers appreciate that.

4. Promote Their Strengths

One of my friends was having lunch at a restaurant when four teenage boys walked in. She said that not only were they properly dressed—shirt neatly tucked in, no sight of their underwear—but their deportment at the table was just classy. As they approached the cashier, she walked up behind them and announced, “I’m paying.”

One of them asked why. She told him, “I’ll gladly buy lunch for young people who conduct themselves the way you do.”

Whatever the character strength of teenagers, show admiration, express encouragement and offer support. Help make them stronger.

5. Consider Their Flaws

The flaws may be physical, mental or moral. Teens feel validated when they are accepted and admired despite how they look, how they walk or talk. You may be the trendsetter for other adults and teens to look for their strengths behind their flaws.

Do not refuse to see their weakness. How can you really care and not notice it? Help them find biographies of people whose flaws fueled their determination to succeed.

6. Meet Their Friends

Make your teenagers' friends feel welcome in your space. If they feel free to visit, you will learn more about them. Knowing them also makes it is easier to know your teen's whereabouts; and it decreases the chances of your teen having secret friends.

Interest in their friends may not earn you a hug, but deep down in their hearts, they interpret your interest as love and care, especially when they hear other teens complain about being ignored by their parents.

If possible, meet the parents of your teenagers’ friends. Parental group support helps to offset teenage peer pressure.

SHAPE teacher helps out teen student.
SHAPE teacher helps out teen student. | Source

7. Discuss Their Opinions

How refreshing for a teenager to find an adult who not only recognizes that he has personal opinions, but also listens to how they evolved.

You may not agree with him, but you can commend him for independent thinking. State your disagreements respectfully and let him know that ultimately, his convictions are his choice.

For the teens, the discussion is all about detaching the apron string. For the adults, it is about discovering what the teens believe, and keeping the door open for healthy discussions. Sometimes the teen will learn something, sometimes the adult will.

8. Forgive Their Mistakes

This should not be difficult if adults remember that teens are not yet adults; and that even adults makes mistakes. However, there are certain elements to making forgiveness effective:

  • Help the teen figure out exactly was wrong about the action;
  • Re-affirm the principle that was violated;
  • Assure the teen that both your reprimand (when there is one) and your forgiveness are by-products of your love and concern;
  • Express your commitment to helping him move forward, no matter how many times he stumbles.

9. Subscribe to Their Vision

Help the teens discover their purpose--theirs, not yours. Help them set goals--theirs not yours--and establish steps towards their success. Some have a clear vision earlier than others; be patient while you help them to focus.

Feed their sense of purpose with motivational stories and quotes that adults told you in your teens. Spend money, time and effort to help them prepare for opportunities in their line of interest.

Above all, let them know that you are blessed for the God-given privilege to share their lives; that no matter how it appears to them, you love them and will remain committed to helping them succeed.

References

1. Price-Mitchell, Marilyn: Psychology Today, The Moment of Youth, 50 Everyday Ways to Love Your Teen (11/05/2013)

2. Rainer, Dr. Thom: Christianity Today, The Top Ten Fears of Our Youth, Copyright 2003 by Dr. Thom Rainer

3. Parenting and Child Health: Fears and phobias - older children and teenagers (11/12/2013)

4. Schreiner, Erin: Global Post, Ten Responsibilities for Teens Copyright 2014 GlobalPost-International

© 2014 Dora Isaac Weithers

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Comments 71 comments

RachaelOhalloran profile image

RachaelOhalloran 2 years ago from United States

This is another valuable article for parents, grandparents and teens as well.

I think it is funny as I look back and compare when my kids were teenagers and now when my grandchildren are teenagers. I was a good mother to teenagers then, but I am a much better Granny to teenagers now. I think as we age we allow teenagers (all young people) more latitude than we did when we were raising teenagers.

And that's a good thing I think in today's world when teens don't feel they can talk to their parents about things that they talk with their grandparents. My daughter says I am a much better parent now that she is older and has children than she remembers as she was growing up. I don't know if that is a good thing or not. lol

Telling her that parenting was different in those days and that grandparenting has a lot more benefits than parenting is something all our grown children will have to learn on their own.

Voted up, interesting and awesome!

They can send grandchildren back to their parents


word55 profile image

word55 2 years ago from Chicago

Hello my dear friend, You are so very caring. I'm not surprised that you wrote with such care for teens as well as you did. We shouldn't look the other way when it comes to our teens. We should try to understand them better and help where it is needed most. Giving them attention with love makes all the better difference. Thank you MsDora :-)


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

That was really sweet what your friend did and we should indeed do more things like that to show appreciation. Gee, God played a good one on us with those teen years didn't He? I never see teens anymore I guess they are all off texting somewhere! Really.

This is great and I only had two teens thank God cause I don't think I could have took a third! You have some really great ideas and advice and I have never read better. ^+


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Dora I loved this. I especially like the suggestion of discussing their opinion because most parents don't care or never think to ask them. I made that mistake - not thinking to ask them. When they did give one we had a conversation, but only my youngest two ever expressed opinions (I had four). As I look back I see so many mistakes I made. However, now I talk to my boys often and I love hearing and discussing their opinions.

All that you talked about here, it is imperative that parent's start these things very early in the child's life. If they don't, implementing the things you suggest will be very difficult.

Great Job here MsDora.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Rachael, some people think that grand-parenting is God's chance for us to improve on our parenting. It is true that if we pay attention, we do a much better job, and both our children and grandchildren should appreciate that. Thanks for your input.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Word, it takes a caring person to know one. Thank you very much for your kind words and your affirmation.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks Jackie. I also applaud my friend for such positive reinforcement on those young men. Random acts of kindness in response to their good conduct goes a long way. Thanks for your contribution.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Yes, Lori. God gives us wisdom and we do improve with the years. So glad about the communication you enjoy with your sons. Thank you for sharing.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Wonderful hub, dear MsDora. It is critical that we truly listen to our teens and interested in what they have to say, as they tend to respect you much more than when we just tell them what to do and what not to do, and always focusing on what they are doing wrong.

I would do a lot of things differently, but at least my son and his friends loved coming to our home, as I did try to relate to them and they knew I was interested in what they were passionate about in this life.

I hope this hub helps many parents of teens as you have provided a lot of great insight here for a better relationship with teens.

Up ++++ and away

God bless you.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great title, wonderful suggestions, right on as always, Dora.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

OMG I have no teenager in my life right now! Better get back to youth preaching and get some so I can apply Dora and make a difference in a good way.

Love you

e


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Teenagers certainly have their own thoughts and dealing with their everyday battles can be frustrating. Another informative hub from you about a so well-known issue.


Colleen Swan profile image

Colleen Swan 2 years ago from County Durham

Interesting article. I think we tend to forget that they are no longer children. They now require reasoning included in any advice we give them.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Faith, thanks for sharing. You gained a great advantage by providing a welcome in your home for your son and his friends.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks Bill. I keep learning lots from you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Eric, thanks for stopping by. I say follow your heart; there are several different ways to contribute to the lives of teenagers.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, DDE. There's just so much more learn about our precious teenagers.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Colleen, that's an important observation--they're young adults. Thanks for your input.


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

I've always felt it was important to get to know my children's friends, and I'm happy when they're around the house. I want them to feel welcome here.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

This is such wonderful advice for parents, grandparents, or others important in a young person's life. Great hub, MsDora!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Ologsinquito, good habit you established, Thank you for sharing.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks Flourish. There is still so much we all have to learn.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

Msdora this article speaks volumes.. the tips stands out well written my friend :)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Frank, thanks for your kind comment. I appreciate you.


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

This is an article every parent should read. Very wise advice.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Nadine. Wish there was a way to get it to every parent. You encourage me.


sheilamyers 2 years ago

Awesome hub! I've never had kids, but I think this is great advice for me because I do spend time with teenaged nieces and nephews. I'm not sure why, but I feel I do these things much more than some of the parents I know. Is that because I classify myself as very independent and, even as an adult, hate when people don't see me as an individual with something valuable to offer? I just think that although teens are still children in some regards and still have parental rules to live by, they also need to be treated more like the adults they're becoming.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Sheila, it seems that have a keen parental instinct towards your nieces and nephews even though you did not produce them. Your attitude towards them as "the adults they're becoming" is excellent. Thanks for your input.


mathira profile image

mathira 2 years ago from chennai

MsDora,

Teenage is a confused world. It is a transition period to adulthood. They have lots of doubts. Parents have a great role to play in this phase your child's life. You should take a step back to make them live their life, but you should also step forward when they need your help. Excellent tips and suggestions.


truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 2 years ago from New Orleans, LA

These are really great ideas. Rather than always finding fault or judging, it is good to take the time out to get to know the teenagers around you and what they care about and who they hope to be. I think there is always some common ground when you take the time to listen.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Mathi, thanks for your input. I love your counsel. "You should take a step back to make them live their life, but you should also step forward when they need your help."


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks Marie, I couldn't have said it any better.I appreciate your valuable input.


mdgardner profile image

mdgardner 2 years ago from Virginia Beach

Excellent advice Ms. Dora. I could have used this hub a few years ago. :) I need to improve on all of these areas. Thanks for sharing.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Hi MD. Thanks for your visit. You can still use these article for the good of the teens around you. Best to you!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

This is a beautiful treatise on how to raise healthy, happy teenagers! So often we hear people speak of them as if they were foreigners in their own household! How much better if we treat them as we would like to be treated! They are budding adults, and will soon be away from us. It is our job to get them ready to be on their own.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks Denise. I like the term "budding adults." They need our help to become the kind of adults we'd like them to become.


Abby Campbell profile image

Abby Campbell 2 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

MsDora - This is a wonderful hub that I believe we can still use for our children even into adulthood. Two thumbs up!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Abby, good to hear from you. I do not doubt that our older kids can benefit as well. Thanks for your input.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Thank you for reminding me of how precious these years are and how we can make a difference when we add love to the factor.


mothersofnations profile image

mothersofnations 2 years ago

So well said! It's great to have these reminders. My oldest is more receptive now than she was 2 years ago (thank God because I was almost lost, but I stayed faithful in prayer and the Lord stayed faithful with His guidance, Amen.)

My 2nd child has entered this phase and being that he's male, there certain things he's reluctant to discuss with mom (& mom wants to know everything lol.)

These guidelines are a blessing, especially during these times of teenage (& parental) confusion. God brought me to this article on just the right day!

God bless you, Ms.Dora! I'm grateful for you :-)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Teaches, love can do wonders to our teenagers. "Love never fails" (l Corinthians 13:8); we just have to add patience.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Mothers, we can relate to parental confusion. God knows that it is a tough job, but it is all about loving His precious gifts to us, the way He loves us--first, unconditionally and always!


Elsie Hagley profile image

Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

Great hub. I voted it up! This is a subject after my own heart. It brought tears to my eyes, we see so much of unhappy children these days and how it affixes them latter down the track.So sad. Thanks.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Elsie, glad you were touched. Those of us who care just have to continue doing what we possible can. Thanks for sharing.


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England

These are the wisest words I've read for a long time.

I have a teenage granddaughter. Her mother does many of the above and so do I but your points are so important for all to read. I sometimes get scared that my granddaughter might fall in with the wrong crowd; she is so sweet now. But I have faith in her sweet disposition and her depth of character so I am optimistic; she's already overcome bullying and she has great hobbies, being a talented photographer.

I love the story of the lady who paid for the teenagers' lunch; what a great thing to do and the best reward. We're very quick to criticise but not so eager to reward, I think.

I'm amazed I'm not following you already as I've seen your comments on many other hubs, so I'm off to do just that right away. Up++ and shared.

Ann


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you, Ann. Let your grand-daughter hear you express your admiration for her; they love to please the ones who admire them. You will find reason to change your fear into trust. Proud of you for your attitude toward her!


annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England

I do tell her often how great I think she is and I always admire her photos; she and I go on 'photo walks' together, she writes too (one children's story with me) and she draws and paints; all the things I love to do but better (except perhaps the writing but that will easily surpass me in time).

We have fun together, including a day in Paris a couple of years ago.

Thanks for your support. Ann


Tashaonthetown profile image

Tashaonthetown 2 years ago from South Africa

Teenagers! oh boy! It is correct to give them responsibilities and love, unconditional no matter what choices they make. They might make us angry and sometimes distance themselves in the world of tv and playstation but when you blink they are grown up and wanting to leave home. We need to give as much love and attention as we possibly can before they don't want it anymore!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Tasha, your comment is chockfull of truth. Thanks for your advocate support on behalf of the teens.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

Recently, I had the pleasure of having my teenage grandson with me for a few days. He is such a sweet child, but like any teen he is going through some ordinary teenage issues. This is such a helpful guide for parents with teens. You always have wonderful solutions to everyday life situations. I definitely must share this.


WriterJanis profile image

WriterJanis 2 years ago from California

The teenage years can be quite challenging for parents at times. The part about forgiving isn't always easy, but it's so important.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Marlene, glad that your grandson's visit was a pleasure; your understanding will be very helpful in his passage through this difficult phase. Thanks for your comment.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you, Janis. Your observation in true, not only in our dealing with teens, but in all our relationships.


nybride710 profile image

nybride710 10 months ago from Minnesota

What a great article. I'm a proud mom of 19 and 16 year old daughters. While I love them dearly, I've been fumbling for a while on ways to connect with them. Bookmarked this one!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 10 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Isa, thanks for reading and commenting. Would be happy to hear that the article helped you communicate with your daughters. Best to you lovely three!


sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 10 months ago

a very useful hub indeed


MsDora profile image

MsDora 10 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Sujaya, glad you found it useful. Thanks for weighing in.


indresilkaityte profile image

indresilkaityte 10 months ago from Vilnius, Lithuania

Very informative and useful artical. Thank You, MsDora :)


swalia profile image

swalia 10 months ago

A very useful hub! Sometimes I am at a loss as to how to deal with my stubborn teenager. Your suggestions are quite valuable.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 10 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Indre, glad you find the article useful. Thanks for your feedback.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 10 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Swalia, sometimes determination just looks like stubbornness. Best to you and your son going forward.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 10 months ago from Northern California, USA

This is truly valuable information. I want (need) to share this with my sphere with hopes that your lessons will help them cope with their teens.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 10 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Marlene, for reading and sharing. I am encouraged.


gerimcclym profile image

gerimcclym 10 months ago from Colorado

A very helpful article not only for parents but also for teachers or anybody who works regularly with teens. Understanding their needs and helping them discover their purpose are the points that stood out to me the most. Lack of belonging and purpose is what drives many teens to join gangs, or worse. We all need to be ready to step in and help guide them in a positive direction, especially if they are not receiving the guidance they need from their parents.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 10 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Geri, thanks for your very encouraging comment. As you suggest, we can all share the responsibility of making teenagers feel needed and purposeful.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 10 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very useful suggestions. As a child grows up and matures it imperative that a parent becomes a friend for him/her to confide in. Only then can we hope to have an emotionally stable adult who knows his responsibilities and conducts himself/herself appropriately.


Alexis Cogwell profile image

Alexis Cogwell 10 months ago from Indiana/Chicagoland

This is all great advice when dealing with teens. I'll be getting there sooner than later, and I'll be keeping this article to reflect on. :)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 10 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Rajan, thanks for your wise input. Wish all parents saw this as their responsibility.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 10 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Oh, Alexis, it is worth look forward to; there are challenges which extract your wisdom as a parent.


grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 8 months ago from Philippines

Dear Ms. Dora,

What a wonderful article this is. I wish I read it when my daughter was still a teen. She's now an adult, but I compare your points with her teenage life, and there is so much wisdom in all of your points. I particularly like the point about exploring their fears. Sad to say, I was more preoccupied with my own fears for her than fears that she had. But God is good, she has come out to be a daughter I can truly be proud of. How wonderful that other parents of teens can go through your pointers and see how they compare to each one. Being a teenager is such a vulnerable time in a child's life.

Love,

Mona


MsDora profile image

MsDora 8 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Mona, thanks for reading. Happy for you and your daughter that she turned out well. Best to both of you!

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