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Raising Teenagers

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
July 9, 2022 1:00 am

Raising Teenagers

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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July 9, 2022 1:00 am

The transition from childhood to adulthood is difficult. If you have a soon-to-be teenager in your house, don’t miss this summer best-of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. The teen years are full of physical and emotional changes. How do you navigate them? Hear wisdom from Dr. Chapman as he discusses “Things I Wish I’d Known Before My Child Became a Teenager.”

Featured resource: Things I Wish I’d Known Before My Child Became A Teenager

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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One of the deepest questions I've ever asked myself is, what if my children turn out to be like me? It can help you sober up to where you need to make some changes in the way you're modeling. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Parenting teenagers can often feel like a rollercoaster ride, from dealing with ever-changing emotions to figuring out how to balance independence with responsibility. The teenage years can be full of struggles as well as joys.

For parents, the more prepared, the better. And that's what we're going to help you with today on this summer best of broadcast of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Our featured resource today is Gary's book, Things I Wish I'd Known Before My Child Became a Teenager. You can find out more at the website fivelovelanguages.com.

That's fivelovelanguages.com. Gary, I think a lot of parents are going to be encouraged today with preteens as well as parents of teenagers who join us or grandparents. Tell me your heart behind putting together this book. Chris, I really had the desire to help parents and, as you said, grandparents understand what's going on inside of a teenager. Because often we say, you know, they're argumentative or they're emotional or all these things, you know, and we don't understand them. And I'm not saying that you'll completely understand them, but realizing that it's a common, they're common threads that teenagers go through. And as parents, if we know these things beforehand, first of all, we will not be shocked. And secondly, we'll have some ideas on how to respond to those things.

And so that's what I'm hoping. This is going to be a practical book that will really help parents of teenagers or those who are about to become teenagers. And yet you're not trying to say, here's how to make, here's how to have a mistake-less parenting experience with your teenager. Because a lot of times, and you say this to yourself, you know, I've made some of the changes that I've made in my life, and the best times with teenagers have been when I've made a mistake and I've had to apologize, right?

Absolutely, Chris. That's my experience, you know, that when I realized, I've blown it, you know, with whatever way to come back and apologize to my teenager. Man, when you do that, you're teaching them how to apologize and they're going to need it because they're not going to be perfect either. So, yeah, often it begins with apology for failures.

And then we move on down the road to the next time. You know, at this part of the program, I usually say our guest is and here's all about them. Here's why you ought to listen. I can't remember the last time I actually gave a full bio for you on the program. So I'm going to do that.

And that means we're only going to have two minutes left at the end. Let me cut it down just a little bit. Here you go.

Listen to this. Dr. Gary Chapman, author, speaker and counselor, has a passion for people and for helping them form lasting relationships. He's a well-known marriage counselor, director of marriage seminars. Five Love Languages is one of his most popular titles, topping various bestseller charts for years.

I think the New York Times bestseller list since 2007, it sold more than 20 million copies. He's been directly involved in real life family counseling since the beginning of his ministry years and his nationally syndicated radio programs aired nationally on Moody radio. He's been married to Carolyn. How many years have been now? Sixty years now, Chris. And she's only forty nine. Don't do the math. Well, here's the other math thing. You you just retired officially from the church where you are associate pastor for 50 years.

That's incredible, isn't it? Well, it is, especially in a Baptist church. With all due respect to my fellow Baptists. But here but here's here's the good news. I retired, but they're going to let me keep my office. They go give me my assistant to work with me. And I want to keep on doing what I've always done because I love it. Well, that's what you've always said on the program. If you could do anything you wanted to do, you do what you're doing right now. And that's not going to not going to end because you quote unquote retired.

And if you ever quote unquote retired, I wouldn't believe it. OK, here's here's some more things. Numerous books you've written about anger. The family you've always wanted. The marriage you've always wanted. Desperate marriages. God speaks your love language. Parenting your adult child.

Hope for the separated. You co-authored a book on apology with Dr. Jennifer Thomas. You're a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. You hold BA and MA degrees in anthropology for Wheaton College and Wake Forest, respectively. MRE and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. And you have completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

Two children, two adult children, two grandchildren still live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Did I get any of that wrong? No, that was all right. I get tired just listening to you say all that, Chris. With all of that experience and all that education and all of the traveling and the speaking, I know you identify and empathize with parents who right now are wondering what in the world happened in our family.

Things were predictable and manageable. And then we hit the teenage years. What do you say to that parent today?

I say I can identify with what you're saying. I thought I was pretty mature until I had a teenage son. And then I realized I had a lot of growth to do in my own life. So, yeah, no, I'm empathetic with parents who are struggling and some who are sitting there and saying, you mean really? You mean things really change when they get to be teenagers?

Oh, yes, things really do change. So I really am excited about this book because I know that many families do struggle in these teenage years. And listen, all teenagers are different. And so I don't mean that you struggle as much with some teenagers as you do others. So I'm just trying to give the common things that I've learned through the years that had I known before I started this journey with a teenager would have made it much easier.

Yes. But things have changed, Gary. You know, the differences in technology and communication. And then, you know, in the last couple of years with Covid, are the are the principles the same as when you were raising teenagers as they are today? I think the basic growth patterns in a teenager are pretty much the same. It's that the culture has changed.

And obviously we're dealing with different issues. For example, when my son was younger, we didn't have nearly all the social, you know, interaction online and all of that that's going on in today's world. And I deal with that in the book because I think we have we do have to deal with that because teenagers are influenced greatly by the culture in which they grow up. And as parents, we have to recognize this and what are the strengths of our culture, what are the negatives in our culture and help guide the teenager through these years at this juncture in our culture. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . Our featured resource is Gary's new book, Things I Wish I'd Known Before My Child Became a Teenager.

You can find out more at FiveLoveLanguages.com Gary, I want to start with a really practical question before we get into the book. And I think it's on the mind of some listeners today, some parents who have heard from their teenager, I don't want to go to church. I don't want to go there. You can go there all you want, but I don't want to go to church. And the child, the teenager, digs in his or her heels and says, it's not for me.

What do you do in that situation? Have you ever been there? I have been, Chris. He didn't say he didn't want to go to church, but our son said he didn't want to go to Sunday school. Here's the way I responded on that one.

And I think I did fairly well on this particular one. I said to him, you know, Derek, why do you not want to go to Sunday school? And he said, because it's boring. And I said, explain that to me.

And he told me, you know, the teacher just gets up there and talks and talks and sometimes I don't know what they're talking about. And it's just boring. And I said, you know, I can understand that. I said, I've been through some boring classes myself. I said, some of them were in Sunday school and some of them were in college.

Just kind of boring, you know. I said, I can understand that. I said, but let me just share this with you. You know, I'm the father and you're the son, right? He's nodding his head. And I said, and you know that I love you very much, right?

And he's nodding his head. I said, and in the final analysis, I said, I want to hear what you're saying, but in the final analysis, the father has to make the final decision. And I think you know that I love you and I can understand why you would be bored. I said, but in our family, we go to Sunday school.

And I said, now you have a choice. You can sit there and be bored or you can start asking questions. Get the teacher speaking about some things that you have questions about.

And maybe you can make it less boring. But we do go to Sunday school in our family. And he nodded his head and walked off, you know, and he went to Sunday school. Now, what makes that work is that he knew I loved him.

And I'd also clarified through the years on several occasions, just a little along the way. You know, in a family, the mom and dad want to hear the child. We want to hear the teenager. We want to know what you think. We want to know what you're feeling.

We want to know your ideas. But in the final analysis, because we are parents, we have to make the final decision on some things. OK, so I had reiterated that along the way.

He had that picture. And so that and the fact that he knew that I loved him. If they don't feel loved by you, then you can say whatever you want to say and handle it, however you want to handle it.

But the chances are they're going to persist in whatever their idea is. So that whole thing of a teenager feeling loved. And that's why, you know, "The 5 Love Languages" of teenagers, the earlier book.

And I just reiterate a little bit in this book about that. But discovering your teenager's primary love language, giving them heavy doses of that language and then sprinkle in the other four. Because we want that teenager to learn that here are five basic ways you express love to people. So we want them receiving love in those languages.

We want them to learn how to speak those languages. That's going to be the healthiest adult who grew up in a home where they felt loved and they learn how to express love. That's one of the best things you can do for a teenager in the teen those years. You know, it's interesting as you talk about this and as you go through as I go through the book, I'm seeing this come up again and again and again. And that is a lot of times the mistakes that we make as parents with teenagers is our own fear. So, for example, with that, with your son, if you're so afraid that people in the church are, you know, you're a pastor there. If you're so afraid that the people in your church are going to see you and your son not going to Sunday school, then you make that the priority of him being there.

Rather, you made the priority stopping, not being afraid to ask the question, well, tell me more about that, and then listening to it. The fear will keep that distance between you and the teenager, but listening and really wanting to hear from them will draw you closer together. Chris, there are few things that are more important between a parent and a teenager than for the parent to learn how to listen to that teenager. You see, typically and by nature, when they say things that we don't agree with, we come back and we hit them over the head with it. And we tell them, you know, that's not true. Now, we've taught you different from that, you know, and we preach to them. In the teenage years, we need to be listening to them because, first of all, they're going through a change in their own brain and they're learning to think logically.

Now, say learning. They're not there yet, but they're learning to think logically. We say they're argumentative, but really the reason they're questioning you on various areas of life where you've taught them things, religious and otherwise, is because they're thinking about these things. And in their mind, something doesn't make sense. And so that's why they're coming back to you and telling you, well, I don't understand them.

That doesn't make sense to me. But if you listen to them and listen to their questions and listen to their viewpoints and listen to their feelings, and you can honestly say to them, you know, I can see how you would feel that way. And if I were in your shoes and at your age, I'd probably feel the same way you do about it.

But let me share something that I've learned along the way. But because you listen to them, then they're far more likely to hear whatever you have to say. But if you don't listen to them and you just bark back at them when they say something like, I'm not going to church anymore, and you say, get that out of your mind, young man. You're going to church.

You're my son. You're going to church. You preach to them and you drive them away. And they may go to church, but they sit there and resent every minute of it.

So we got to learn to listen to their concerns and listen to the things with which they disagree with us. And when we affirm their thoughts and feelings, it doesn't mean we agree with them, but we affirm their thoughts. I can see how you'd feel that way. I can see how you'd think that.

And I can see how that makes sense in your head. Now, you're not putting them down. You're commending them. They have thoughts and they have feelings. And you can see how they could feel that way and think that way. And now they realize you're respecting them as a person. You're respecting their thoughts. You're respecting their feelings.

And they're far more open then to whatever you have to say after that. That's a huge shift, Gary, in a parent's mind to be able to get to where you just went with that. And let me tell you the featured resource today, Things I Wish I'd Known Before My Child Became a Teenager.

You can find out more at FiveLoveLanguages.com, FiveLoveLanguages.com. That's the first thing you wish you'd known, that teens are developing the ability to think logically. So you're saying when your teenager challenges you and comes back and says, that doesn't make any sense to me. It's a perfect opportunity to listen to them and it's a teachable moment for both of you, right?

Yeah, absolutely, Chris. And we should be glad that they're sharing with us what they're thinking. Even though it may come across as being critical of you or something you've taught them, we should be glad that they're sharing those things with us. Because now we have a chance, if we hear them, we have a chance to talk with them about it and share another perspective.

And to say, I'm just glad to see you're thinking about things like this. Let's say that it is a religious question or a spiritual question. And maybe they've met a friend at school or online, something that has another religion. And maybe they've read some things and they're saying, you know, I think this religion, listen to this, I think this is really good. And rather than say, whoa, but now wait a minute, that's not Christianity. No, we say, well, tell me about it.

What is it? And you say, yeah, you know, that is a good thing because listen, most religions have some good things in them. You know, that is a good thing about that religion.

Maybe we should learn more about that. And so then get a Christian book that deals with other religions. You know, Dr. Erwin Lutzer wrote a book on other religions for young people to understand.

And so you look at all these religions and you see, yes, the positive things, but you also see the negative aspects of them. Now you're helping them by giving them information that they can read. But they're excited now to read it because they've been thinking about something or heard something. So, yeah, listening to them and then giving them information that they can read and you can discuss further. You're helping the faith, the Christian faith, become theirs and not yours. And somewhere along the line, they make that decision.

You know, John Trent, Dr. John Trent uses word pictures. And what I hear you saying then is when the child is younger, preteen years, what you're doing is you're looking face to face with the child and you're teaching them this is the way, walk in it, and helping them make choices, but making some of those choices as well. When they become a teenager, you're beginning to turn and you're side by side with them as you walk. And they make their own choices to either walk beside you or not.

You're side by side. Does that make sense? Yeah, absolutely, because you're treating them more. See, they feel like they're moving toward adulthood. They know they're not adults yet, but they're not children either. And in their mind, they know they're not children. So when they're children, you know, we're instructing them, yes, but when they get to be teenagers, they're going to question what they were taught. And that's okay.

It's a good thing. Because unless they question it and then come to affirm it and accept it for themselves, then it's just rote for them. They're just going through the motions. So it has to become personal, and it becomes personal through the process of them thinking about it, looking at other aspects of it, talking with you about it.

You're listening, and then they're listening to you, and then they come to say, you know, I agree. This is where I want to walk. I want to walk with Christ. And we can't make our children become Christians. But the way we treat them and the way we process spiritual things with them during the teenage years is extremely important.

Which takes us to the next, and I know that you wrote this chapter, put this chapter early because it is so important. I wish I'd known that culture greatly influences teens. And this is where we can talk about music.

This is where we can talk about social media and online. What is it that you wish you had known about culture's influence? You know, Chris, I wish I'd known that what's happening in our home is the first base in terms of the culture of the child, what's happening beyond the home, school, church, online, and all of that is going to influence that child as well. And when they start talking about things that they're picking up at school or online, again, we need to process it with them because it's all a part of them coming to explore and learn and grow.

And we want them to learn and grow. So I think when it comes to technology, for example, we don't want to condemn technology. We want to look for the positive things about technology. And when they come to you and say to you, you know, on any topic, say, why don't we see what we can find out about that? Why don't you this week look online and see what you can find?

I'll look online and see what I can find. And then we'll talk about that further. So, you know, you're making use of technology. Also, if they're going on a trip, for example, to say, make me a picture, make me at least one picture a day and send it to me while you're gone. Or if you're going on trips, you have that arrangement with them.

You're going to send them one picture of where you are. So the other thing I would say is during the teenage years, especially during the teenage years, there does need to be boundaries on the use of technology in the home. For example, one thing that we felt strongly about, and of course we weren't facing technology nearly like we are now, but at our dinnertime, then the phones are down, the screens are off, and we're spending dinner eating and talking with each other. And I challenge parents to say, let's everybody share one or two things that happened in your life today and how you feel about it. Those conversations in our family, we had them every single night when we had dinner together. And I know having dinner together can be by in and of itself is hard because we got all the sports and everything else that's going on, and we had to shift our dinner earlier or later, but we really worked on this. And our children grew up to say some of the best memories we have were sitting around the table talking. And sometimes our son would bring friends home from college, and we still did the same thing when they came, visitors came, and they would say to him later, man, your folks do like that all the time?

I mean, we've never had conversations like that at our house. But it's just a natural time to be eating and talking with each other. So have some boundaries with teenagers.

You can decide what boundaries you want to have, but I think there should be some boundaries. The whole family does this together, and you can process things much better when you have a time to talk. It's so easy, though, Gary, for a parent to make, you know, let's say my child listens to rap music or my child listens to whatever, fill in the blank of whatever it is that you don't connect with, and make that the number one thing and miss what their heart is being drawn to.

And again, we come back to listening, right? Yeah, and I think, Chris, we need to understand that in the teenage years, they're moving toward independence. Now, they're not independent, to be sure, but they're moving toward independence. And that's why they may say, I don't want to sleep in the same bedroom with my brother anymore.

I want my bed in the attic, or the basement, or somewhere else. Because they want to be different, you know. And at church, they may say, if you've been sitting together as a family, they will say, I want to sit with my friends at church. Well, to me, that's a positive thing.

They're moving toward independence. And they may also say, when you say, well, we're going to go down and see a grandmother this weekend. They may say, I don't want to go see grandmother.

It's boring down there. And you would say, honey, you know, here's one thing. Here's one place where I'm going to have to say, we're going to have to go down and see grandmother because we love grandmother.

I understand it's boring a little bit, but maybe you can find some things this time you didn't find last time. So there are some things that you're going to, you know, kind of keep the guideline, but there are others in which you're going to say, you know, that's a good thing. But with that independence comes responsibility. So if you agree to set up their bed in the basement, then there should be some responsibility. That every week they're going to dust the furniture, or sweep the floor, or vacuum the floor.

You know, you decide what. Because we also want them to learn responsibility. They get to be 16, and they're going to drive the car. Okay, maybe it's the family car.

Maybe it's one you've helped them by, or whatever. But with that freedom, you know, with that independence to drive the car, there's responsibility. It may be that they have to wash the car every Saturday before noon, or two o'clock, whatever you decide. And certainly have to abide by the laws, you know, the speed limits and all of that. And they need to understand beforehand that if you get stopped for speeding, you're going to lose the privilege of the car for a week.

So any other law you break, they need to know there's consequences to what we do. Tying responsibility along with independence. You're helping them move in the right direction. Let's face it, when you get to be an adult, it's a whole lot of responsibilities.

Yeah, you're free. You're out there now on your own as an adult. But a lot of responsibility. So we want them to learn independence, and we want them to learn responsibility.

And during those teenage years, great training time for both of those. Our program is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, New York Times best-selling author of "The 5 Love Languages" . You can find us online at fivelovelanguages.com. There you can take an easy assessment of your love language, plus find our featured resource today. The book by Dr. Chapman, Things I Wish I'd Known Before My Child Became a Teenager.

Just go to fivelovelanguages.com. Throughout the conversation, I've been listening to you through the prism of the love languages and feeling loved. That's one of the things that you've been talking about. I wish I'd known how much teens need to feel loved, you know, the love tank concept.

And then you just talked about independence toward the end of that last break. Let's go towards social skills. I wish I'd known teens need to learn social skills.

What do you mean by that? You know, Chris, it's more important today than ever. Because if they only spend time online, they're not developing social skills, okay? And I'll just throw out a few here. One is learning how to express gratitude.

Where are the kids going to learn? There's not a gratitude gene. You have to learn, you know, how to express gratitude.

And I give a lot of practical ideas here. What if you said to every member of the family, you may have two children or more, give each one of them a sheet of paper, and they list the name of each family member. And then this week, I want you to write down three things that you appreciate about that person.

Okay? Then we come back at the end of the week, and we sit around each other, and we share, we read them out loud in the presence of everybody. Three things I appreciate about dad. Three things I appreciate about mom, and then sister and brother. It's these kind of things, simple little things, that help them begin to see positive things in their family.

And here's another one. What if the parent says, you know, sometimes I feel like I grumble too much, rather than being thankful. So I want to give you, the next three weeks, I want to give you kids the freedom. If you hear me grumble, I want you just to say, mom, I think you're grumbling. Or dad, I think you're grumbling.

Okay? Because I want to get rid of grumbling, and I want to start being more thankful. So it's those kind of things that you can build, you know, this spirit of gratitude. Because sometimes teenagers can be really grumblers, and not seeing much to be thankful for. Another one is teaching them the skill of asking questions. Asking questions. You know what I've found is that the children who are taught how to carry on conversations by asking questions of other people, are the teenagers who grow up super, super relational. They never met a stranger that stays a stranger. They ask questions, you know, and we even actually give some questions in the book that teenagers can ask other teenagers just in conversation with them.

But also it can be developed in the home. To say, Johnny, you got five minutes to get with dad and ask him any question you want to about his childhood or when he was a teenager. So he goes and starts asking dad questions, you know, dad gets to talk about the things that he did right, the things he did weren't so right, you know, and how he regrets that. But that whole issue of learning how to ask questions because you're not going to build relationships as an adult. If you don't learn to ask questions, and then along with that is the skill of listening. Listening. When other people are talking, you are listening. You are give them your full attention. And incidentally, when you are talking to your teenager and they have your full attention and your phone rings, and you answer your phone when you're talking with your teenager, you've just communicated to them someone out there is more important than you. Now I know that's not what you're trying to communicate.

Now I know if you're a medical doctor and you're on call, I know you got to take the calls, okay? But at least say to the teenager, you know, I've got an emergency here, but hang on, because as soon as I finish this, I want to finish our conversation. Which says to them, you are the most important person. So learning how to listen and then also the skill of kindness. And I define kindness as words and actions that enrich the lives of other people. Kind words, kind actions. A teenager who learns the spirit and the attitude of kindness is going to have a much easier adult life. Because they will learn how to express kindness to their family eventually, their spouse, their children.

So the social skills are really, really important during the teenage years and if they don't develop them. And here's where technology works against us. Because it's so easy to be able to take all your free time and be online, you know, doing something online. And if that gets to be a pattern, let's say a video games. If a teenager spends all their free time on video games, they will carry that into adulthood.

And it will not bode well with their marriage, in their marriage. So again, moderation in terms of time online. But developing these skills, give them something to do rather than simply being online.

Yes. This is really helpful because as you're talking, Gary, I'm thinking about my own childhood preteen years. And interacting, I had two older brothers that were out of the house by the time, you know, that I came into those years. And when you mentioned that thing a few minutes ago about independence, I remember moving downstairs. You know, we had, it was kind of a one level house, but we did have the basement. But that was where they had stored everything from the depression, you know, all the canned goods. If the apocalypse came, my parents were going to, we're going to survive. And I said, I want to move down there. And they let me down with the mice and the everything else that was crawling. I, to this day with all the dust, you know, I still have dust.

I'm sneezing from that. But they let me do that. And now, as you, as you mentioned that, I realized I was separating from them. I was, I was asking for my independence and they gave it to me, even though they probably didn't understand why I wanted to sleep in that dusty old basement.

Absolutely, Chris, whether they were conscious of what they were doing or not, they did the positive thing because they were encouraging independence. Here's a problem, though, that you discuss in the book. And this is going to probably touch a nerve with a lot of, a lot of listeners and maybe, maybe more men than women.

I don't know. I wish I'd known teens need to learn how to process anger. And the reason I form it that way is that I think a lot of adults haven't learned how to process their anger.

Chris, I can identify with that because I was one of those adults. And I share this, I share my own story in there because my son was 14, maybe 15. I can't remember exactly, but he and I got into an argument and I was raising my voice at him and he was yelling at me.

And I said harsh things and he said harsh things. And in the middle of that argument and my yelling at him, he walked out of his room and walked across the living room and walked out the front door and slammed the door. And when he did, I woke up and I said, Oh God, I thought I was further along than this, yelling at the son I love. And I just started weeping and just, you know, eventually got on my knees and poured my heart out to God and asked him to forgive me for yelling at my son and saying those horrible things. And, you know, I have a deep appreciation for the cross of Christ.

Because God forgives us when we come in repentance. And eventually when my son walked back into the house, I don't know how long it was, maybe an hour. I said, Derek, could you come in here a minute, son? And he did, and I apologized. And I said, son, I want to apologize for the way I talk to you. I said, no father should ever talk to a son the way I talk to you. And I said, I said some harsh things to you and that's not the way I feel about you. I said, I love you very much. And I said, I just, I feel badly about what I said and the way I treated you. And I said, I just want to ask you to forgive me. And he said, Dad, that was not your fault. I started that and I should not have talked to you that way. And he said, when I was walking up the street, I asked God to forgive me and I want to ask you to forgive me.

And we hugged each other and we cried and we hugged and we cried. And then I said, Derek, let's learn how to handle anger in a better way. The next time you feel angry at me, just say, Dad, I'm angry, can we talk? And I'll sit down and listen to you. And the next time I feel angry at you, I'll say, Derek, I'm angry, can we talk?

And that was a change point for us. And we learn how to sit down and listen and talk our way through anger rather than yelling our way through anger. So I think that you're right. There are a lot of adults, especially fathers, I think, who have never learned how to handle their anger. And so they handle it in a bad way with their child. And they're teaching their child. In fact, if your child is, if your teenager is yelling at you, you might ask, where did they learn it?

And for me, it would say they learned it from me. OK, so apologizing is often the first step in helping the child handle anger because they see us apologize. Now they're learning to apologize. They're also learning that that's not an appropriate way to handle anger.

Yes. And you've said this every Dear Gary that we've had when a parent calls up with a question about a teenager or an adult child. And that is your son or daughter, that child is leading you someplace good in your own heart.

Don't think that just by fixing the situation, you know, that that's the only thing that's going on here. There's something that God is doing inside of you. And that story that you told about Derek just then, it strikes me that the Holy Spirit was working in your heart and in his heart simultaneously. And that's why you two could come back together.

Yeah, absolutely, Chris. I've often said that was one of the saddest nights of my life and one of the happiest nights of my life. Sad because of my own behavior, happy because of his behavior, you know, because I'm realizing, hey, he is sensitive to his own failures and has asked God to forgive him and is asking me to forgive him. And I knew when he got to be an adult, he would need he would need to learn how to apologize because he wouldn't be perfect either.

So, yeah, that's huge. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . We're talking about Gary's latest book for parents, Things I Wish I'd Known Before My Child Became a Teenager. You can find out more at FiveLoveLanguages.com.

That's FiveLoveLanguages.com. Gary, you spend a whole chapter discussing the importance of parental modeling. We've kind of talked about that, you know, with your relationship with your son, especially.

Why is that so important? What happens to a teen when they have a poor model in their parents? Chris, what we have discovered is that a child is far more impacted by our model, by which I mean our behavior, the way we process life, than they are by what we say to them. So that if we are telling them, you know, you do this and this and here's what we do, but they don't see you living it out, they're going to be influenced by your model, not by what you said. In fact, I'll tell you, Chris, one of the deepest questions I've ever asked myself is what if my children turn out to be like me?

I made some significant changes in my life when our son was a teenager with that very question. For example, such things as which we discussed earlier, what if they grow up to handle anger the way I handle anger? What if they treat their spouse the way I treat my spouse? What if they drive a car the way I drive a car? What if they have the same work ethic that I have? What if they talk to other people the way I talk to other people? These are the kind of questions that, you know, the whole issue, what if they respond to alcohol and drugs the way I do? What if they have the same kind of relationship with God that I have?

It can help you sober up to where you need to make some changes in the way you're modeling. Because the greater the gap between what you teach them and the way you live, the less respect they have for you. Because when they hear you give these platitudes of how you ought to live, and then they see the way you live, they're far more influenced by the model. So I would just really encourage parents to think along those lines because, listen, all of us are in process.

None of us are perfect. And some of us are rather strong in one area and rather weak in another area. But if we think along those lines, do I want my teenage son to grow up and handle this the way I handle it? It'll help us know where we need to be working and where we need to be changing. Because as adults, we continue to grow or we continue to regress.

We don't sit standstill. As an adult, and as a parent especially, we want to be growing through this time. And that's why, again, apologizing to our children when we do things that are not good. And let me just throw this in, too, on apology. If they hear you as a father or a mother yelling or screaming or speaking harshly to your spouse, and maybe you apologize to your spouse in private, but the kids didn't hear the apology.

They heard the other. Next night after you've apologized to your spouse and the kids are sitting around the table, you say to them, I know last night you heard me speak to your mother in a harsh way or your father. And I want you to know that I apologized to them last night and they forgave me. And I really am grateful for that. And guys, I'm going to ask you to forgive me. Because teenagers should never have to hear their father speak to their mother like I spoke to your mother.

Wow. You talk about them getting it, they're getting it, man. And anybody who comes over and eats at the table that night when you say that, you know, another child is hearing that. It strikes me, Gary, and I know that you wrote your memoir recently, too, but how much of what you're saying here, your own mom and dad modeled for you? You caught from them and gave to the next generation, right? Yes, and they were not perfect parents, but they were loving parents.

And they didn't know anything about love languages, but they did know how to love, you know. But there are things, of course, that I had to learn the negative thing, like my father. I don't ever remember hearing my father apologize. Now, there weren't many times that I think he had to apologize or should have apologized, but that I did not get from him.

And that's probably why, again, I was following his model when I was yelling at my son. You know, they weren't perfect parents, but they were good parents, they were Christian parents, and I knew they loved me and my sister, there were just two of us. And I've always been grateful for the impact that my parents had on me, absolutely. Can you say a word about one of the big concerns today, mental health? How can we help a teenager be emotionally and mentally healthy, and when should we be concerned? Yeah, I think, Chris, you know, teenagers are going through a lot of exposure today to all kinds of things. It's not just the home.

Now, the home influence is most important. But they're out there in the world at school, either being accepted or rejected, hearing negative things said about them, and the same thing true online, and they can begin to get an image of themselves that nobody likes me, nobody cares about me, I'm an oddball, you know, and it can affect them emotionally and begin to show up in their behavior. And whenever you see things in their behavior that are troubling, this is the time to try to find out what's going on. And school counselors can be a help.

Obviously, if you're in a Christian school, most of them have a Christian school counselor, which is just ideal, a good place to start, especially if some of it's tied to things that are happening at school. We shouldn't take these things lightly if we hear them talking about, I don't know why I should live, or, you know, different kind of comments that indicate they're thinking things here that are not good. We don't need to just let it pass, and we don't need to say, you've got to get that out of your head.

Now, we want to find out, what makes you feel that way, honey? You know, what leads you to say that and listen to what they're saying? Then you'll find out what's behind that behavior. What do you say to the parent who thinks, you know, I have a 16, 17-year-old, and everything you're saying I identify with, but it's too late. You know, they made some big mistakes, and it's just too late to be in their life again and have any kind of influence. What do you say to that parent?

You know, Chris, as long as we're alive, it's never too late. And I think the place to start is with an apology. And sometimes I run into this when there's been a divorce in the family, and that fractured.

I mean, it's painful to the children. But to go back and apologize to them for the pain that you caused to them, often that's the first step in rebuilding a broken relationship. And as you begin to rebuild, they come again to trust you. They come again to listen to you. So, it's never too late to apologize for our past failures and to let them know that we want to be different in the future.

If they would allow us to spend time with them, we'd like to do some fun things with them. You know, depending on their age, of course, and where they are in the journey. One other aspect of this that I want to get to before we end here today, you say, I wish I'd known that teens need to learn an attitude of service.

Why is that so important? Chris, I think it's pretty evident from studies that individuals who serve other people are happier people than anyone else. Life's greatest meaning is not found in the accumulation of things.

I mean, Jesus said that. Life's greatest meaning is found in relationships, first of all with God and then with others. And when it comes to others, the joy, the sense of satisfaction is in helping others, serving others. And Jesus said, when you serve them, you're serving me. The whole attitude, our lifestyle of service, is where we find our deepest satisfaction in life.

I was walking across the campus of University of Virginia some time ago. I was speaking in Cabell Auditorium, and across the doorway of a side door into that building, etched in stone, were these words, you are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. And I thought, that's exactly what Jesus taught. Serve others as I've served you. You see, Jesus actually verbalized this.

The Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve and then ultimately to give his life a ransom for others. And so, following the attitude of Christ that we are here to serve others, and a teenager can learn that by watching you serve others, you take them with you if you're going to work in the food pantry this weekend. You take them with you if you're going to take food to a neighbor, or if you're going to mow the grass for a neighbor who's in the hospital. Or anything, any service you're doing, you let them know what you're doing and take them with you from time to time and let them see what you're doing. They learn, again, by your model. Well, at this point in the program, Gary, you always thank the author or the speaker who's come along. I want to do the same with you. Thank you for pouring out your life and mining your heart with these things for parents. And keep doing what you're doing, friend, and we'll meet again next week, okay? Look forward to it, Chris. Once again, the title of our resource, Things I Wish I'd Known Before My Child Became a Teenager, find out more at moodybooks.org. And join us next week for another Summer Best of program, What Do You Do With a Fractured Faith?

Don't Deconstruct. Join us for some fresh insights from Dr. Lina Abu-Jamra. Don't miss the conversation next week. Our thanks today to Janice Todd and Steve Wick for their work behind the scenes. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-26 13:57:02 / 2023-03-26 14:16:10 / 19

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