Create a “Teenager Friendly” Home
Children and teenagers, in particular, want to know that they are welcomed in your home. It’s a new space for them, and they want to know if it’s their new space. One way to create a welcoming space for your teen is to fill a basket of items that they might need as well as enjoy on their first night and days to come. Include practical items like personal care products and new socks as well as a special item like a journal or a deck of cards. You might include snacks, bottled water, and a welcome note. Doing this shows your teen that you have been thinking of them and preparing for them. Colleen said it has helped her communicate, “I see you, and I love you, and I want to love you” to the teens that have come into her home. She says, “I know this isn’t home, but I want you to feel like it’s home. Here is the fridge; you can go and eat whenever.”
In love, set boundaries. Teens are still learning and growing and trying to figure themselves out. Whether they will admit it or not, they need guidance and structure, not free-reign. Without boundaries and rules, expectations are unclear, and there is chaos. Boundaries created in love are for their benefit. Show them you are available and here for them, but let them know you will not smother them. Each teen is different; you have to feel out their personality in those early days. Do they want you around, or do they want you in the background? They need to know you are doing this because you have a heart for THEM.
If your teen is in a relationship, handle this with care. They want to know that you respect them, and yet you can still establish rules for your home. Communicate your expectations, such as when you are not home, their significant other is not allowed in your home. When their significant other does come over, let them know they need to hang out in open spaces. Communicate openly with your teen so that you don’t both end up frustrated by unclear expectations.
In the midst of establishing expectations as well as in ordinary day-to-day conversations, it’s essential to seek first to understand, and listen more than you talk. Teens want relationship, but in order to establish it, they first must know that you care.
It is vital to find the balance between too little communication with too much communication. This is true when it comes to what you tangibly provide for them as well. Colleen shares that it’s been helpful not to give them everything they could ever need or want all at once, even if you have the means to do so. If you do this, their expectations for what you’re going to purchase or find for them are set very high, and when that stops, everything can unravel. Saying no is important in building relationship as well.
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