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Protecting Our Children

Building Relationships with Teens Makes a Difference

By JoAnn Hamilton
August 1, 2004

Abraham Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" teaches us that it is a human need to have a loving relationship with someone. We listen to the person with whom we have the relationship. Youth will allow parents to teach them and they will accept your values, but if their key relationship is with someone else, those are the values they will likely incorporate into their own lives. Therefore, it is important to build strong relationships.

I recently lectured at Utah's Home School Conference and taught that there are 15 ways that help to build a relationship. I want to include them here with some comments.

  • Avoid criticism. It kills love. Criticism, according to Dr. John Lund, always tears down. When we must do it, ask for permission, be alone, be in control and say it in 12 words or less in three to five seconds, followed by positive comments.
  • Honest praise builds love. Be a cheering section for your family. Fill your home with positive comments, and beware of the problem illustrated in the following poem: “I got two A's,” the small boy cried.
    His voice was filled with glee.
    His father very bluntly asked,
    “Why didn't you get three?”

    “Mom, I've got the dishes done!”
    The girl called from the door.
    Her mother very calmly said,
    “And did you sweep the floor?”

    “I've mowed the grass,” the tall boy said,
    And put the mower away!”
    His father asked him, with a shrug,
    “Did you clean off the clay?”

    The children in the house next door
    Seem happy and content.
    The same things happened over there
    But this is how it went:

    “I got two A's,” the small boy cried.
    His voice was filled with glee.
    His father proudly said, “That's great!
    I'm glad you live with me!”

    “Mom, I've got the dishes done!”
    The girl called from the door.
    Her mother smiled and softly said,
    “Each day I love you more.”

    “I've mowed the grass,” the tall boy said.
    “And put the mower away!”
    His father answered with much joy,
    “You've made my happy day!”

    Children deserve a little praise
    For tasks they're asked to do.
    If they're to lead a happy life,
    So much depends on you.
  • Anger kills love. Avoid it. Regardless of the circumstances, people choose to react pleasantly or react with anger. Sometimes talking about an issue the next day is a good idea.
  • Label in positive ways. If you label the child as shy at two or three, the child will most likely still be shy at 16, but watch what happens if you label a child responsible and then praise that quality every time you see it.
  • Listening builds love. Here is a poem that may help all of us.
    When I ask you to listen to me
    and you start giving me advice
    you have not done what I asked.
    When I ask you to listen to me
    and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way,
    you are trampling on my feelings. I feel that way.
    When I ask you to listen to me
    and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems,
    you have failed me.
    Strange as this may seem. Please just listen.
  • Fun builds love. Make the time to genuinely do fun things together. Going through the motions doesn't work.
  • Hugs help.
  • Rigidity hurts relationships.
  • Polarization can be a problem.
  • Serving builds love, but not forced serving. As mothers, you can need help, like opening a bottle, etc.
  • Understanding helps, and first you have to listen.
  • Say “I love you.” This can be notes, verbal, a pat on the back or inclusion in a prayer.
  • Prayers are answered.
  • Professional counseling is sometimes essential.
  • Love is an answer and all of these ideas will increase love.

I could write an article on each of these, and perhaps I should, but hopefully in the form it is, it will be helpful to you.


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