Creating a Positive Home Environment for Your Teen (Guest Post by Ryan McCleary)

Ryan McCleary, a counselor from The Counseling Center at Living Word, specializes in working with teens. Today he shares tips for creating a positive home environment for your teen.

Parenting presents great challenges—especially with a teenager! As parents, our experiences, attitudes, and judgments are completely different from those of our teenagers. If you have been struggling with trying to improve the relationship and/or communication with your teenager, there is much hope in your plans to build and foster a positive home environment. Proverbs 14:26 states, “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.” Why would a “secure fortress” be important? Why do teens need a refuge? A home environment that is secure and serves as a refuge provides your teen the space, stability, and security to make mistakes and experience growth and transformation. Here are three simple aspects to assist in creating a positive home environment for your teen.

One of the key steps to building and fostering a positive home environment (secure fortress) for your teen is listening. One of the biggest mistakes we often make as parents is being quicker to react, judge, and fix than we are to just pause and take time to listen to our teens. In order to actively listen to someone, it is necessary to be patient. If you aren’t good at listening but want to improve, try practicing patience by repeating what your teen just said or noticing body language and actions while he or she is speaking. Active listening is vital to encouraging open lines of communication with your teen.

Acceptance is also crucial to building and fostering a secure refuge. You must be willing to fully accept your teens where they are even when you completely disagree with their opinions, thoughts, and choices. To clarify, acceptance doesn’t mean you allow them free will to do and say whatever they please, nor does it mean removing consequences or discipline. It just means that by totally accepting them, you can begin to walk alongside them to make the necessary changes and corrections for the behavior and/or situation. For example, if your teen has a tendency to view inappropriate content online, encouraging an open and honest conversation, where viewpoints and concerns are shared, may prove to be more effective than a harsh consequence without a discussion.

Finally, unconditional love is probably the most important aspect in developing a secure fortress and refuge for your teen. Jesus’ heart is full of spirit, strength, and unconditional love. Even when teens have the best intentions, they make mistakes. Teens need to know that when they mess up, they may face consequences but they are still loved no matter what. Improving in the areas of listening, acceptance, and displaying unconditional love will lay the groundwork for improving your overall relationship with your teen. As humans, we judge and we sin, but Christ offers us acceptance, forgiveness, and repentance. This is what leads all of us to true learning, empowering us to transform and improve our family relationships, as well as our individual journeys with Christ.