Do you remember those sweet years when you tucked your beloved to bed? You would have sweet conversation, maybe read a sweet book, say prayers together, kiss on the forehead and tuck your beloved in tight.
Then your beloved grew up. Life somehow got in the way of this bedtime ritual. You’ve missed having those moments together as you also realize that your beloved has grown.
This is not that same bedtime ritual but it can be one that also creates sweet moments.
Whether it is in bed, in the bedroom, over a late-night cookie in the kitchen, each evening try to have a day-ending conversation with your teen and ask these three questions:
- How are you doing?
- How are your friends doing?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how’s your mental health?
At first you may get eye rolls. Of course, you will. Endure pass the eye rolls and try again. With your consistency and these questions you will get a peek into your teen’s secret life.
Every teen has a secret life–it’s a part of adolescent development. The questions that run through that growing brain of theirs are wide and big and scary. Sometimes these questions spill out. More often they remain bottled inside that curious mind and conflicted soul.
With these questions you are saying that you care about your teen’s friends. The struggle of their friends’ lives may be one of the biggest concerns he/she is secretly struggling with. You are inviting your teen to put words on that struggle so the secret can be released. You will also learn the names of their friends, maybe how they influence your teen, some of the gossip of your teen’s life, and maybe even a peek at your own teen’s decision-making. Do not exploit this window at a future time. This is a sacred moment.
Also asking about his/her mental health nightly says you are aware that life is hard for your teen. That you will not be shocked at your teen’s struggle. That you are even ready for it. Which will then help your teen not keep a depression or an anxiety attack a secret from you.
Notice this doesn’t include a family devotion book or a nighttime prayer. Maybe this will for you. Maybe because this has been a family habit since those sweet child days. My advice is to keep this simple with these questions.
Value every bit of information you get in return. Then go to your bedroom and you pray your heart out to the God who sees pain and who is near those in pain. There may also be many prayers of gratitude. #thebravepray
Also watch for those moments when the two of you will be able to pray together for what is shared. Maybe this will happen often because this has been a family habit since those sweet child days. Maybe your teen simply wants space to figure out his/her own way to communicate such stuff with God. (This is the normal.)
So this bedtime ritual isn’t as sweet as a sweet childhood book but these minutes together will connect you to your increasingly disconnected teen where it may matter most.