Suppose someone interviewed your teenager immediately after the two of you had a difficult conversation. What would he say? Would he say that you listened to him respectfully, wanting to fully understand him before you answered? Would she say that you showed thoughtful care for her concerns? Would your teenager say that the words you used were pleasant, encouraging and kind?
Most importantly, would your teenager say your words were spoken with humility? Would your teenager think he was the most important person in the conversation?
At this point someone might be protesting, “Wait a minute, my kid was being disrespectful to me. He doesn’t deserve to be treated that way!”
In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul says this to you:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Philippians is a book about resolving conflicts. To do this you must view your teenager as being more significant than you are! This is a hard pill for your flesh to swallow. Your teenager has spoken to you with a lack of gratitude. He has been disrespectful, even dismissive towards you. You are hurting.
Parent, you must remember that God constantly shows you kindness and compassion whether you deserve it or not. What have you done to earn God’s kindness and compassion? This is what is must drive you to humility.
When you view your teenager as more significant than you are it means:
You listen intently and respectfully (Proverbs 18:13 &15).
You say only things that are designed to build up (Ephesians 4:29).
You use pleasant words (Proverbs 16:20-24).
Your thoughts and words are not angry. (James 1:19-20; Ephesians 4:31)
Responding this way shows your teenager (and God!) that you are viewing him as more significant than yourself. When you don’t consider others as more important than yourself, it reveals a spirit of selfishness that says others exist to serve you. This results in conversations that end in tension and frustration. Each of you thinks the other person cares only about his own selfish needs.
These words in Philippians provide a practical and effective way to break this cycle. You can love your teenager by considering them to be more important than yourself.
Now about that interview. Have the courage to realize the answers your teenager will give about your conversation. As noted above, the Holy Spirit has provided you with the tools you need to bring healing and hope to your relationship with your teenager.
Show Christ to your teenager. Consider them as more significant than yourself.