When they say talk to the hand, talk to their heart

Parents might not get a hand shoved in their face, but many teenagers still display the attitude, ‘talk to the hand because this face ain’t listening’. A phrase that originated in the 1990’s is still alive and kicking decades later because the attitude that birthed it is still present in teenagers today. Why is it, though, that teenagers often are dismissive about what their parents are saying? Why is it that they don’t value parental advice? Voices from their friends, wounds from the past, and confusion about the present may all play a part in your teen’s attitude.

Most people will agree that parents should be given respect. Also, they should have a right to speak into their children’s lives. Many parents are left scratching their heads about how to do it. Even those who have been effective in ensuring their teens don’t display their attitude still struggle to reach the teen’s heart. Obedience on the outside doesn’t equal internal compliance by any means.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to examine how to get your teenager’s wall to come down and reopen communication in your family.

Deal with Rejection

Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Before you analyse your teen’s behaviour deal with your own. Many parents struggle with rejection issues, and the ‘talk to the hand’ attitude is especially hard to deal with. The hand in the air as a physical barrier between you and your teen sends a relational message ‘get out of my life’.  A parent can react to this one of three ways.

  1. Often parents are puzzled about how to deal with teenagers. Unsure of the boundaries some parents assume that they have overstepped themselves and perhaps shouldn’t interfere in their teenager’s decisions. Society has eroded the confidence of many parents to deal with their teenager’s behaviour. Believing this lie, they withdraw and feel hurt and rejected that they no longer have a role in their children’s lives.
  2. Angry and upset parents often deal with their teenager’s outbursts by having one of their own. They feel rejected and disrespected, and the real issue is drowned out in a row about manners. Feeling out of control often causes a parent to try and control their teen’s behaviour, and that manipulation perpetuates the problem. When they say 'talk to the hand' talk to their heart! Click To Tweet
  3. Love means that even when you are feeling rejected you still choose to love your stroppy teen. Your love for them isn’t dependent on their manners. Your voice in their lives isn’t silenced because it has been rejected. You don’t abdicate your responsibility as a parent because your teen doesn’t want you. In reality, they need you more than ever! Love suppresses the anger which would cause your reaction to be all about you, and you push through to find out what is really going on with them.

If you have been struggling as a parent, have felt like a failure, feel like your teenager is rejecting you, and have been questioning your role in their lives, then it’s important to recognise that you have been listening to the wrong voice. It’s time to tell Satan ‘talk to the hand’. Reject what he has to say because Satan is a liar and he wants to steal your joy in parenting.

Just as God created your child and formed them, He knew that he had chosen you as their parent. That means He knows you can do this through His help! He has chosen you, not rejected you! When you don’t know what to do or what to say, remember this advice in James.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6 (ESV)

By Lainey Hitchman

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