You might consider a high schooler, sullen and silent in her room, a decidedly isolated creature.
After all, she’s the one who marched right in and slammed the door. She’s the gal who stares at her phone during dinner, spends hours alone in the bathroom getting ready, and plops her headphones on whenever the family goes out for a drive.
Still. The teenager in your home–or at your church–craves community. She may not admit it to you, but she absolutely does. And that craving, well, it’s God-given. We all live with it.
High schoolers in particular benefit from a few specific relationships which work to pull them out of hormonal–and circumstance–induced funks and push them toward a life of potential.
Want Your Teen to Build Positive Relationships? Keep These Things in Mind.
Before we talk about the types of relationships you might encourage, let’s take a look at a few general principles.
Relationships have the power to make or break a teenager’s high school experience. As you can, point your teen in the direction of people who are life-giving (think encouragers over discouragers), engaging (think social over social media), and growing (think getting better over staying the same).
Of course, if you hope to make a match, you gotta know:
- Teens can only be influenced by people who are willing to get to know them.
- Teens learn primarily from people they like.
- Teens only trust people who are consistent.
That means you probably won’t score by pairing a 15-year-old science buff with the local football coach who can barely make time for his own kids, let alone another teen from the school. In fact, it may take a little trial and error to get things right. And that’s okay–building a network of friends and mentors usually does.
Four Relationships You Should Encourage Your Teen to Build
A quick heads-up: You might find yourself in the list below. Don’t skim. Lean into that section, taking a moment to recognize how important you are in the life of a teen–a teen who will one day be an employee or business owner, maybe a husband or wife, perhaps a mom or dad.
That’s no small honor.
- Parent(s). By the time a kid reaches high school, they spend just two hours a day in their parents’ presence. Two. Parents gotta make those hours count. Teens need parents who listen more than they lecture–much more.
And parents may find their teens opening up–sharing ideas, concerns, and dreams–in light of all the listening.
- An adult outside the family. High schoolers process the big and small things of life by talking out loud. And sometimes, let’s be honest, they just wanna talk to someone–anyone!–besides good ole mom and dad.
When an adult who doesn’t have to care, but does anyway, that speaks volumes. Encouragement from such a person can help a teen firm up their faith and decide on a path for the future.
- Close friends. Like all great coming-of-age stories, real teens flourish in the company of great friends–especially when they’re paired with guys and gals who share common interests and with kids who couldn’t be more different.
As long as your teen can safely navigate the high school years with her pals in tow, you should feel free encouraging her to go ahead and have some serious fun.
- Someone to lead or serve. High schoolers may seem a self-absorbed group, but deep down they really just want to do something meaningful, something that matters. By providing opportunities to volunteer, train, or mentor, adults effectively say, “You totally have what it takes to make a difference, and I trust you to take the reins!”
Powerful words right there. Plus, we all know that oftentimes, more is gained by the person serving than the one who is served.
Take a look back at the list above. What relationship(s) do you have with the teen(s) in your life? How can you make the most of your influence? And what relationship will you encourage next?