Life in this broken world is comprised of beginnings and endings…seasons of change and transitions. This is abundantly evident in a teen’s life. They experience huge amounts of change during the course of adolescence. Change involves beginnings and endings. Endings are hard because it can illicit fear of the unknown, sadness over loss, and possible regret over things undone. Learning how to process and healthily approach change is a great empowering and equipping opportunity for parents. How you talk with teens about change matters.
Henry Cloud writes in Necessary Endings, “Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.” This is true both for the person who is making a change, and for those who are impacted by the change.
When there is a big change, provide space for the kids to talk about their thoughts and feelings where you just listen.
- No cell phones. Just mutually agree to spend time talking together.
- Speak face to face.
- Follow their conversation
- Notice their body language
- Clarify what you see and hear
- Let them know you understand what it is like to feel whatever they are feeling.
Now is NOT t the time to tell them “everything will be okay”. Let them share their thoughts and feelings. Provide space for them to feel and let whatever they feel be okay.
When they are ready you can help them process it by asking good questions
(Who, What, When Where, How questions…no why questions).
- Who is your support system?
- How can you contribute and take ownership of your life and this situation?
- What do you need from us as your parents?
- How do you see this impacting you the most?
- What are your biggest concerns?
- What do you feel about this?
- What are your ideas to solve ___________________?
- How can you continue your growth?
- How can you honor and celebrate the impact this person had in your life
The idea is to help them deal with change by:
- Incorporating this into their life
- Encouraging resilience in the face of change
- Helping them see their impact and power in life and in the group.
Keep an ongoing conversation going with your child. If they are having strong emotional reactions, they may need extra compassion and involvement from you for a season.