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Are you starting to get a complex? Does it seem like every time you think you are going to have a little time to spend with your teenager they have something more important to do?

It's one thing when it is a sports activity or something school-associated, but it's another thing when it seems like your young person just doesn't want to be at home.

They find every excuse to be with a friend or to do this or that, and you think, I brought them into this world. I have taken care of them all these years and all of a sudden they don't want to be with me. They might say things like, "You are boring. This house is boring and I just don't want to be here." Some young people have said:

"I am gone a lot because my mom always has something to do. I wish she'd actually try to make time for me, then I might stay home more often."

"Whenever I am at home, I feel like I am walking on eggshells. I feel like no matter what I say, I am going to start an argument."

"I wish my dad would stay home more often. He leaves at 4:45 A.M. and gets home about 7:00 P.M. I get so bored at home and this is why I am always gone."

"If my parents would back off more and let me stay closed up in my room by myself, I would stay home more often."

"I wish my parents would ask me to do more things as a family instead of staying home alone all of the time."

What is a parent to do?

First of all, understand you are not alone. This is a normal part of growing up. Psychologists have identified that in the first phase of life, a child's primary relationships are with parents. Children care about what their parents think and what they do. Their whole life revolves around interaction with their parents.

Then there comes a point during adolescence when the primary relationship shifts from parents to friends as they learn to interact socially. This is healthy, because for the rest of your teen's life you want them to know how to interact socially in a healthy way. So don't feel left behind just because they want to be with friends. It doesn't mean you cannot influence what friends they have or the amount of time they spend with them.

Their decision to spend time with friends doesn't mean you are a bad parent or that there is something inherently wrong or bad about you. They are simply growing up.

How busy have you been throughout the life span of your young person - even when they were little children? Were you busy, busy, busy with work and activities? Maybe now things have slowed down for you, so you expect your young person to drop everything to be with you.

Maybe they have learned to develop a life totally independent from you. Most parents do not understand that. They think, now I am here. Why don't they want to be with me now that I am making time for them?

There could be some hurt and resentment in their heart because of the time you did not spend with them when they were younger. You weren't there for them when they needed you, so they have learned how to get along without you.

If this is the case, it will take some time to rebuild that relationship and show them you are truly sorry. It will take a while for them to realize you want to spend time getting to know them.

Your home needs to be like a greenhouse for your young person. Make it a place where they really want to spend time. That doesn't necessarily mean having a television for them to watch whenever they want to. It has to do more with how your home looks and feels, and the attitudes displayed around the home.

Some young people have every high-tech toy you could imagine but don't want to be at home. They feel like they're always walking on eggshells - someone is going to get mad and blow up at someone else. Who wants to be around that?

You may have to search your own heart and deal with attitudes in your own life. Maybe you need to set up rules and guidelines that are less harsh or more harsh, depending on the situation you find yourself in. Create an atmosphere so that when your teen comes home they feel welcome, like they have arrived in a haven. They are in a place where they know they are safe and protected from the world.

Your teen needs to feel wanted. Let them know you look forward to them being there. They need to feel you care enough about them to cook their favorite food. Do you respect their opinion enough that you take their advice on things, such as painting a room a color they chose?

Make your home a refuge from the harsh realities of this world that is trying to tear your teen away from God and beat them up on the inside. Don't demand that your young person stay home during their free time just for the sake of their being there. You can have them there physically, but if their heart is not there, is it going to do much good?

I suggest you include exciting events for them to do in your calendar of social activities.

Make your home the place young people in your community will want to hang out when they come over to see your son or daughter. Don't just say, "Stay home." Instead say, "Hey! Why don't you invite some friends over? You can rent a video, buy some snacks and drinks, and I'll foot the bill."

Plan activities to do as a family and with friends that seem bigger than life - something your young person could not do on their own with their friends, because it costs money or they don't have the resources to do it.

You are not trying to buy your young person's love! You are trying to show them you care enough about them to provide something fun for them to do in the context of your own home.

They should feel like their home is not just a place where they eat and sleep. It is a place where they have fun with their family and friends. Make your home a place your young person is not embarrassed or ashamed to invite friends to, but they are excited to invite them. It is going to cost you money and time, but your teen is only young once.

Give them a teenage legacy to look back on. I have talked to young people that said, "My friends love coming over to my house. They call my parents 'Mom' and 'Dad'."

Your teen needs to feel important enough that you have really thought through to plan an event - something that is really awesome. It will cost money, but in the end it will be worth it when your young person looks back on the fond memories and times around the house with their friends there - and you were the champion.

You helped to shape them in your greenhouse - not to mention keeping them off the streets, away from the wrong parties, and out of compromising situations where trouble could have accidentally sprouted up in their life.

Source: Rescue Manual For Parents by Ron Luce.
Excerpt permission granted by Albury Publishing

Author Biography

Ron Luce
Web site: Ron Luce
Ron Luce was the co-founder's and president of Teen Mania Ministries from 1986-2015. Ron and his wife Katie dreamed to raise up young people who would change the world.

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