Tiptoeing into my teenage daughters’ bedroom one night, I stood by their beds to watch them sleep. The moonlight filtered through the curtains and across their beds as their eyelashes rested on their cheeks and their red hair spilled over their pillows.
The morning would bring another dizzying blur of activities, but for now, in the stillness, I could see both the softness of childhood and the beauty of young adulthood in their sleeping forms.
These girls, and their kid brother, are grown now. The glimpses I had of their adult selves are now fully realized, and I love how they blossomed into amazing people. It was quiet moments like these that helped me commit to affirming them every chance I could, especially in the midst of those transitional years.
There are many positive messages teens need to hear from their parents. Here are three things to tell them today:
“I’m proud of you. I love who you are becoming.”
In our grab-n-go, fast-paced life, it’s easy for communication to become a list of instructions: Don’t forget your homework. Pick up your shoes. Empty the dishwasher. Put down your phone. Stop picking on your brother. All good, probably necessary admonishments, but added up they can make your teen feel like they can never do anything right.
Take a moment and tell him how proud of him you are. Mention every positive thing you can think of. Remember that the obstinate streak you’re trying to cure them of will become character in the face of adversity. That head in the clouds will become creative and kind. That dawdler will become thoughtful of others. That silliness will settle into a joyful outlook that will carry them far.
Your teen needs to know that you delight in the young adult they are becoming, just as our heavenly Father delights in his children.
“He will take great delight in you.” (Zeph. 3:17)
“You have what it takes. You have a bright future.”
You teen’s ears are flooded with dismal messages about the future. From news stories, to conversations, to reports about the economy, to adults talking about how good things “used to be,” she can be overwhelmed by it all. While it is relevant to be realistic about the world we live in, she needs to feel your confidence in her ability to navigate it. Your child will impact the world in a positive way, and it’s your privilege to help her find those strengths to reach her potential.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11)
“I’ve got your back. I’m always here for you.”
Your teen needs to know that, no matter what, you are in their corner. Your love will transcend hairstyles and questionable fashion trends. Your strength will buoy them through broken hearts, through disappointments, and through self-doubt. You will forgive their mistakes. You will nod and listen, you will often zip your lips, but your arm around his shoulders will communicate solidarity. Your words will tell him that you will never leave or give up on him.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
Your teen is changing before your eyes. Don’t let the busyness, or the conflicts that may arise in this season of life keep you from being committed to affirming them each day.
Positive words from a loving parent are precious gifts that your child will carry long into adulthood, and treasure for a lifetime.