Do you know how to make your teenager feel loved? Well, “making” teens do anything is nearly impossible, but you can do things to give them love in the way they are looking to receive it. My mom did it with volume. She—how should I put this? She has a way of commanding people’s attention. Some might even say she’s loud. And by some I mean everyone. When she would come watch me at high school basketball games (I didn’t play, I cheered), her excessive volume was all for me. The gym would be quiet, while the crowd waited for us to start a cheer or dance and she’d yell, “Yay, Abby!” at the top of her lungs. Everyone knew to listen for it, not that we could miss it.
My face turned red every time, but I knew without a doubt that she loved me and was proud to be my mom. Repeated cries of “That’s my baby!” are a little embarrassing and not necessarily the best idea for how to make your teenager feel loved, but one crisis counselor, Leia Joseph with thegosepelcoalition.org, has found 6 ways to make teens feel loved and supported that she says will help them weather these rough years.
1. Be relational, but not their best friend.
Even though with their words and body language, they might tell you to go away, teens need their parents more than ever. It’s up to us to be available, but not pushy—a listener or counselor, but not their best friend. They are coming to us with stories or fears looking for wisdom, not for the same reaction they’d get from a peer.
When you’re being relational with teens, timing is key. I’ve never been a morning person, so my parents knew any bids for connection or conversation needed to be after the sleep was out of my eyes. My dad’s trick was to offer a glass of lemonade after I finished mowing the lawn. We’d sit together and talk—no pressure, no agenda (except the $15 I’d earned by mowing, of course).
2. Convey enjoyment of them.
Teens know they’re a bear to be around. They hear it from every direction and they’ve been hearing it since starting middle school when all the hormones kicked in and you stopped being perfect in their eyes. But if you’re a mom who wants to know how to make your teenager feel loved, you need to show them you like them, too.
At an age when friendships are fickle and bullying is rampant, be the person who wants to know more about them, their hobbies, and their interests. The next time you’re in the car, just speak up and say, “I want you to know I really enjoy being with you.” You might get an eye roll, but I bet a smile will be hiding under the surface.
3. Keep technology in mind.
Think back to a time in high school when you found out friends went to the movies without you. It hurt to know they left you out. Fast-forward to today. Not only do teens know when they’ve been left out, but they also have to see cute posed photos with the caption “#newbestfriend,” and everybody at school knows about it, too.
In an effort to protect our kids, it can be tempting to restrict technology. Yes, have your house rules and standards, but remember to think big picture and help prepare them for the challenges ahead. Understanding how technology has changed their world and impacts every aspect of it and then showing empathy will help your teens feel seen and loved.
4. Expect failure along with success.
Not only should we allow our teenagers to fail, but we should celebrate when they do. I’d rather my kids experience failure when I’m there to give them an epic pep talk than never trip up until college and then struggle to get up.
Expecting failure is not only good for character building, but it’s also crucial for how to make your teen feel loved. It’s your opportunity to recognize the mistake or sin and offer grace and forgiveness. Connect with a listening ear. Admit you’ve had your own share of mess-ups and that you don’t expect perfection from him or her.
5. Show you care about them, but care about other things too.
Be willing to drop everything if your teen needs you, but have your own life outside of him or her. A teen whose parents have no interests outside of what he or she is interested in (or at least that’s how it appears) will feel a tremendous amount of pressure.
You can make teens feel loved and supported by being their number one fan, but also by showing them that if they want to change directions and try something new, it won’t mean a complete upheaval of your family’s lifestyle.
6. Trust that God’s plan outshines your dreams.
How does trusting in God make your teen feel loved? A mother who has peace and hope for her child’s future parents with a greater sense of purpose. Your faith will influence how you react to teens’ misbehavior, give you patience when they change courses on you, and help you forgive when they’ve said or done something hurtful.
How does trusting in God make your teen feel loved? A mother who has peace and hope for her child’s future parents with a greater sense of purpose.
Trusting in God doesn’t mean you won’t ever lose your cool or make a poor parenting decision, but it does mean that ultimately, you know that they are His and not your own—and He loves them even more than you do.
What do you do to show your teenager love?