Watch the video HERE
This month’s video discusses how important it is to be willing to engage in spiritual conversations with your teen. I’d highly encourage you to take a few minutes to watch our Parenting Class. It offers excellent information on 3 Types of Spiritual Conversations You Can Have With Your Teenager.
A study by Barna researchers revealed that out of 2,409 teens between the ages of 13 to 18, 71 percent said that they would attend a worship service at a church, synagogue or temple to “understand better what I believe.” Teenagers want to know about God. They want to understand their Bibles. They are at a critical stage in their spiritual development and trying to make sense of exactly what it means to believe. They are seeking to make their faith their own.
Parents, you have the awesome responsibility of talking with your teens about spiritual things, though it might not always be easy. In fact, it might feel impossible! The best tip is to keep conversations normal. Don’t jump into deep stuff every time you talk with your teen! The goal is to draw them closer to Jesus, not to push Him away. Pay close attention to their questions, and be acutely aware of any opportunity to steer the conversation towards God.
Never underestimate the power of listening. Your teen just wants to be heard and validated. Let them process questions about their faith by providing a safe environment, affirming them, and actively listening.
As a child leaves their tween years and enters their wild and confusing teens, they not only begin to try to figure themselves out but they may start asking some tough questions about God. Why can’t I feel God? Does God really hear my prayers? Did Jesus really exist and rise from the dead?
Even Jesus’ disciples who walked with Him, saw Him die and physically touched Him after He rose again struggled with those kinds of questions! Why wouldn’t our teens living 2000 years later in a world far from ancient Israel ask difficult questions, too? It is natural for a teen to struggle with making sense of their faith, and it is a high honor for parents to represent God by being available to listen to their questions. However, it’s not always easy to start or have those conversations!
Here are four tips for providing the best possible environment for spiritual conversations to occur:
- Never accuse. Pointing out what a teen doesn’t do will erect an immediate wall between the parent and his/her teen. Trying to start a God conversation with “Joe goes to youth group every week; why don’t you?” or “You aren’t acting like a Christian right now” will put your teen on the defensive. Rather, offer to pray with your teen or ask a question about youth group if they did go. Teens want to know their opinion matters and that they aren’t being judged or condemned.
- Let them know they are loved. Teens are notorious for being tight-lipped and reclusive. Sharing feelings with friends is nearly impossible, much less with parents! They guard themselves against vulnerability, without realizing they are doing it, in an attempt to protect themselves from being hurt or embarrassed. If your teen doesn’t talk with you, let them know there is someone who is not only ready to listen but loves them unconditionally – Jesus – no matter what they say or think.
- Use current events to steer a conversation toward God and faith. Today’s teens are entering a unique world; their generation is facing issues that ours never had to. Asking questions about those things is a natural way to open up spiritual discussion.
- Think of five questions about God or faith. Write them down, and then re-write them in a way that does not sound like you are drilling your teen. For example, saying, “Let’s talk about what the Bible says about lying” would end the conversation before it even started. But saying something like, “Here’s a wild thought! If you were hiding a Jewish person in your home during World War II, and a Nazi soldier pounded on the door asking if you were hiding someone, is it a lie? What do you think God would say?” Can you imagine the discussion about lying that would erupt from that question?
Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:15 to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
Let’s be sure we do the same with our teens! They are fragile creatures, though they sometimes might appear rough on the outside. Be ready to talk about God, in love, and with great gentleness, but in a way the meets your teen right where they are.