Being Available For Your Teen

By Focus on the Family
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
monkeybusiness/iStock/Thinkstock
Set a goal of reserving 10 percent of your energy for your teen.

Do you spend too much time away from home? When you’re there, are you available physically and emotionally? Or are you wrapped up in television, moonlighting or restoring an old Corvette?

If you’re there when the kids get home from school, do they have a listening, caring parent to talk with? Or do they have to stand in the kitchen, shifting from foot to foot, hoping you’ll get off the phone?

If you get home later, do you push aside attempts at closeness, your face and body language like an electrified fence? Do you mumble a hello to your kids and demand they give a respectful, clear response? If your teen has a concert at school, do you beg off because you’re too tired?

If so, it’s not surprising. Parenting a teen — not to mention keeping up with the bills — is exhausting work. Just when you thought your kids would need less from you, you find they need more.

And time is what they need most. Quality and quantity time.

Parents Who Come Home

Coming home can be hard. It requires sacrifice.

I have a friend who’s a major-league surgeon. He came to me after realizing he was losing touch with his teens. He could see them frozen in the distance, almost like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.

I suggested he come home. He looked at me, his face etched with despair. “But I can’t.” I knew what he meant. His skills were in constant demand at all hours of the day and night.

So I challenged him with what I hoped would be a reasonable goal. “Try to give 10 percent of each day to your kids. Just 10 percent.”

He did. To his astonishment, his teens began to respond. What he thought he’d lost forever, he regained — when he gave only 10 percent of his time.

I’d tried this principle at home, too. After pouring myself into

my job every day and coming home with a chip on my shoulder and looking for a soft place to lie down, I’d had nothing left to give my kids. One day I’d slithered home, anxious to do nothing, when a thought floated into my head: Save 10 percent.

That sounded reasonable, doable. So I set myself a goal of reserving 10 percent of my energy for my children. My new top calling was to be a dad.

I used that 10 percent with my teens — shooting hoops, running pass patterns, and listening to a squawking saxophone. In their hearts they knew I thought they were special, that I valued them.

A Time to Mend

I’m not the only one who thinks it’s worth it to sacrifice your time during the few years your teen has left at home. Listen to this girl’s story:

“My mom drove us to and from school every day. That meant at least an hour a day in the car. It was so great because, being the incredibly wise woman that she is, my mom would listen to what was going on. Then she would offer her best advice for a problem. This way, we all learned to trust my mom, and we weren’t ever afraid to tell her about something that had happened. My mom has always encouraged us to talk to her because she knows that we’re not perfect and we’re going to screw up sometimes. She’s extremely good at waiting until we’re ready to tell her what’s on our minds, and she just listens and then gives us advice or takes action if it’s needed.”

It takes time to be that kind of mentor to your teen. Here’s how one parent put it: “Whenever there was a choice between being with the kids and doing something else, the best choice was being with them.”

Want to see a change in your teen’s behavior? Make the first move by coming home.

Taken from Sticking With Your Teen, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2006 by Joe White. All rights reserved.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.