You know that book 5 Love Languages – it’s so popular for couples.  But there are also languages our teens speak that we can learn, if we notice, pray and notice some more.  Their body language, facial expressions, words they say or don’t say, and their actions all are speaking loudly.  Sometimes it’s deafening and we want to just run away and hide, but more often than not they’re crying out for someone to understand their language…

Eye rolling – Pretty sure this might be the most common facial expression our teens give us, either in our presence or when they walk away. It’s saying, “This is dumb and so are you,” more or less.  Do we let it slide or say something?  It’s a good time to talk about respect.  While it’s true that they can still give us eye rolls in their minds, it’s helpful to have a conversation about that attitude.  Use non-accusatory language and never attack your teen’s character, but ask them and listen to their answer, about why they are giving you the roll.

Lip biting – Little kids often bite their lips when they’re nervous, and that emotion is still there in their teens.  If we see nervousness displayed in any way, before a test, a date or prior to a performance or a game – we can stop and pray peace over them.  Speak scripture and give them hope, and remind them that He is always near, and so are you.

Patterns of attitude – Hopefully we are not too busy or focused on our own work or phone or life to see patterns in our teens.  If they always cop an attitude after being with a particular peer, we can sit down and ask why.  If he’s moody and rude every morning, maybe we need to check and look at his sleep patterns and time that he’s actually sleeping.  If she’s defiant every time we insist on a clean room, we need to have a talk and discuss ways to change.  Patterns are telling…

Smart mouth – Our reaction to this might be a desire to scream or demean or threaten something crazy, but gentle correction is always a good option.  I read in a Focus on the Family article that one mom says, “You need to circle ’round the airport and land that plane again,” when her teen talks back.  A soft answer turns away wrath, is what the Good Book says. So we can try it, and pray, and try it again.

Boredom and listlessness – Teens often just hang around and become grumblers and complainers, often because they want to do something, go somewhere or figure out their purpose. It’s NOT true that we need to back off from our teens just because they’re not kiddos anymore.  Invite him/her to go with you to plan a meal at the store, to ride a bike, or to watch a show.  Make eye contact and truly enjoy their presence, not using time together to correct or instruct.  Just hang with them.

Stammering or talking too much – Often this signals lying from our teens.  We need to take notice the first time this occurs.  If our kids are lying, they’re either disobeying and/or afraid to tell us the truth.  It’s probably a given that all kids will lie at some point, to their parents.  They will test the water to see how deep they can go.  We need to be aware and care, and get to the root of why they feel the need to lie.  And we need to stay tuned to really hear what they’re saying and why they’re doing what they do.

Defiant arm crossing – This is a scary one, isn’t it?  When our kids are so angry or so frustrated with our parenting that they stand close in defense, as if they’re going to strike, it’s not an easy situation to handle.  Rather than standing and shaking a finger in their face, we too need to gather our senses and calm down before correcting.  Maybe time apart needs to take place so thoughts can be collected, and arms can then unfold and embrace.

All of the above can get out of control quickly in our teens.  And teens try parents’ patience, for sure.  They give us gray hairs and sour stomachs.  Some teens need help from outside influences like teachers, counselors or pastors, because they just do.  Let them seek that help, and don’t feel bad that you can’t solve all of their problems.  Some teens respond to quiet correction and reasoning, others have to suffer consequences.  All teens are different.

However, the one way we parents can remain consistent is by praying, observing, communication and loving well, even when he slams the door or she stomps away.  It’s hard, and we too need the support of other friends, praying friends, and our loving heavenly Father.  He really does care, and once we take their body language concerns to Him, he’s promised to love them and pursue them with his goodness and mercy – all the days of their lives – when we offer them to Him.  It’s one of the hardest parts of parenting – raising teens to mature adults. And it’s not up to us to be perfect, their best friend, or to know just what to do in every situation.  

Ease up on yourself, breathe deep, and let a long sigh…and lift your own eyes to the sky.  He’s listening and He cares.

Their Language
by Marcy Lytle

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