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25 Methods to Present Your Teenagers You Love Them

November 27, 2023
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Teens are notorious for acting embarrassed by parental demonstrations of affection – in public, at least. No matter how they act, our teens are going through tremendous emotional, physical, and hormonal changes, and they need to know how much they are loved. Try some – or all – of these non-embarrassing ways to show your teens you love them.

Your teens may ask you to stay out of sight when you drop them off at a friend’s house. They may shrug off that awkward hug when they leave. They may even walk far enough away from you out in public that it’s not obvious they’re out with their parents. {gasp}

The truth, however, is that our teens still want and need to know that they’re loved. Even when – or especially when – they’re acting unlovable. 

25 Ways to Show Your Teens You Love Them

The ways you show teens love will likely look a little different than the way you show love to your younger kids. It’s not that their need for love has changed. It’s just that, as they naturally begin to pull away a bit, test boundaries, and explore their independence, the way they need you to demonstrate love may undergo some subtle changes. 

Try these tips to show your teens you love them. 

1. Listen.

Listen to them when they talk to you – really listen; don’t just nod along. Sometimes it’s just as important to hear what they aren’t saying as it is to hear the actual words. 

Also, keep in mind that some conversations are hard for teens. Those talks often happen more easily shoulder to shoulder rather than eye to eye. That means engaging in an activity that holds your visual focus while talking such as going for a drive or working on a project together.

2. Look at them.

While some conversations need to be the shoulder-to-shoulder variety, there are other times when our kids need to know that they have our undivided attention. I am guilty of doing other things while listening to my kids, which means I’m not focused on them and may miss subtle body language cues or lose the thread of what they’re saying. 

Sometimes, our kids need us to look at them when they talk, so they know that they are important and what they have to say matters. These moments can happen any time and anywhere, but it’s also wise to set aside some one-on-one time for your teens. Take them out for breakfast or ice cream and give them your focused attention.

3. Talk.

Spend time talking with your teens. Tell them about your day. Let them see that you experience ups and downs, too. Tell them about what life was like when you were their age – and not in an “I had it so much worse than you” kind of way, but in an “I understand what you’re going through because I had similar issues” kind of way. Tell them how different things were culturally or technologically. They really are interested in our “back in the old days” stories. 

Talk to your teens about what you’re struggling with. No, they don’t need to bear all our burdens but they do need to know that we’re human and we struggle, too. You also may be surprised at how insightful teens can be. They may help you see a solution you hadn’t considered or help you see a different way of looking at the situation.

4. Say yes.

Sometimes it’s easy to say no without really thinking about the request. Give your teens some freedom to make choices about the negotiables. Let them take (reasonable) risks. Give them a chance to make their own choices (and even mistakes) as often as possible. 

We learn through both our successes and our failures. Show your teens you love them by giving them the opportunity to experience both with you as their safety net. 

5. Say no.

Loving someone is not saying yes or no indiscriminately, but with careful thought and balance. They may be morphing into adults, but teens still need boundaries. Provide them – with love. Talk with your teens about the boundaries you set and even give them space to respectfully question them. Sometimes understanding the “why” helps them see that your number one goal isn’t to ruin their life. 

6. Respect their struggles.

Sometimes those things our teens are struggling with seem so insignificant in comparison to our adult struggles, but it’s all a matter of perspective. Think back to your teen years. Their struggles are genuine and as important to them as your adult struggles are to you. Respect what they’re going through. Be their sounding board. Offer guidance if they’re seeking it (or really, really need it), but also recognize when they need you to simply listen. 

7. Spend time with them.

I started carving out time for one-on-one dates with my teens and I’ve been amazed at how much they enjoy our time together. They love spending time with me without distractions – and a good meal probably doesn’t hurt! Of course, having a date is only one of many ways to spend time with your teenager

However you choose to do it, spending quality time with them is a fantastic way to show your teens you love them.

8. Give them space.

As much as they need time with us, sometimes teens just need some space. They crave quiet time alone to think, read, play music, whatever. Make sure they’ve got somewhere they can go to be alone when they need to be. If you have kids who share a bedroom, you may need to get creative with other spaces in your home or put some ground rules in place for siblings to allow each to have some quiet time. 

25 Ways to Show Your Teens You Love Them

9. Remember that they’re still kids.

They may look like adults, be facing adult decisions, and (at least part of the time) act like adults, but our teens aren’t adults yet. Keep that in mind when they make foolish decisions, act immature, need your reassurance, or just act silly. 

10. Encourage their interests.

Give your teens a chance to explore their interests. Whenever possible, let them take classes or get involved in church and community activities. The teen years are a time of figuring out their gifts and talents and how those are going to factor into their futures. Help them to make the most of that exploration.

11. Give them responsibilities.

We do our kids a disservice when we don’t give them responsibilities. I can be guilty of this. However, kids really need to feel like they have something worthwhile to contribute to their family’s well-being. Expect their help not as a favor to mom, but as an integral part of your family and the day-to-day activities that make your home life run smoothly.

Ways to Show Your Teens You Love Them

12. Prepare them for adulthood.

Another way to show your teens you love them that ties into giving them responsibilities is preparing them for life outside of our homes. Teach them the skills they’ll need to manage their own homes, such as cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and balancing a checkbook. And, expect them to put those skills into practice. 

Your teens may not necessarily perceive household chores as an expression of love but as adults, they’ll look back on it and be thankful that you equipped them with everyday life skills.

13. Hug them.

Teens still need physical affection, too. Just maybe not in front of their friends. Not only do hugs show your teens you love them, but hugs also reduce stress and provide a variety of health benefits. So win-win!

14. Take part in their hobbies.

If you have a child with musical talent, sing along or play along if you are also musically inclined. If not, maybe hum along (haha!) or just be there at performances or attend concerts together. 

Do you have an artist? Maybe you can draw or paint together. My daughter and I share a love of art, and we occasionally get out all of our art supplies and spend an afternoon painting or drawing together.

 A photographer? Take photos together or volunteer as a model. An author? Read her book…with permission, of course!

15. Cheer them on.

Be your teens’ biggest cheerleader. Go to their sporting events or performances. But first, read this excellent article about the 6 words your kid needs to hear you say. It’s good stuff.

A word of caution: Be at your teen’s events to cheer your kid on, not to play coach, yell at the officials, or belittle the other team. 

16. Let them suffer the consequences.

This is a hard one! Sometimes kids make poor choices, and it’s definitely not easy to watch them suffer the consequences. However, suffering the natural consequences of their actions is an essential part of your teen learning and growing into an adult. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re a terrible parent if you don’t bail your kid out every time he makes a mistake.

17. Don’t give them everything.

We want to make our kids happy, but giving them everything doesn’t make them happy. It only creates a sense of entitlement – something that is far too prevalent in today’s culture.

People, in general – not just teens – tend to appreciate the things they work for far more than the things that are just given to them. We appreciate the value of the things that require a sacrifice of our time, money, or talents. Let your teens enjoy the sense of pride that comes from working for that big ticket item or tackling that challenging experience.

18. Get to know their friends.

One of the most loving things you can do for your kids is get to know their friends. As our kids get older, their friends often hold much more influence over them than we do. Make sure you know who they’re spending time with.

Be the house where everyone wants to hang out. Stock the good snacks, welcome the noise, and get to know your teens’ friends. 

19. Serve them.

As a Christian, I believe that Jesus called us to serve others. That should include our kids. I’m not talking about becoming their maid or a short-order cook. I’m talking about showing them love through acts of service from time to time.

Maybe your older teen has been working a lot of hours at his part-time job, so you do some of his chores to lighten the load. If taking out the trash or walking the dog is a job your teen usually does, do it for her now and then. Little gestures can speak volumes.

Acts of service is one of the Five Love Languages of Teenagers. If you’ve never read the book, I recommend worth taking the time to do so!

20. Show them.

Let your actions show your teens you love them. Leave her notes telling her how amazing you think she is. Ruffle his hair or pat his shoulder as you walk by. Make their favorite meals.

21. Tell them.

Our teens still need to hear the words, “I love you.” Nobody ever outgrows that.

22. Don’t always be their reality check.

Do you know that relative who always feels the need to be the voice of reason? Don’t be that person. Let your kids dream big. You never know what God has called them to do. Don’t squash their God-sized dreams even when they seem impossible to you.

I mean, maybe sometimes you need to be their reality check but play that card judiciously. 

23. Pray for them.

Kids face a lot of stuff we can’t imagine. We may think we’ve seen and heard it all, but today’s teens encounter things that most of us never dreamed existed when we were their age. Pray for them daily.

24. Pray with them.

Don’t just pray for them in the privacy of your own space. Pray with them. Out loud. Holding their hand, touching their shoulder, or some other way to be physically present as you pray for their struggles, their hurts, their dreams, their friends, their future spouses, and about whatever else God prompts you to intercede on their behalf. 

25. Respect their privacy.

Teens can become very self-conscious creatures. Don’t post their photos on Facebook or your blog without asking first. Knock on their door before barging in. If you notice their journal lying by their bed, don’t pick it up. Don’t expect them to tell you everything.

If you have a legitimate cause for concern, then, sure, investigate, snoop, whatever you want to call it to keep your teens safe. But aside from serious concerns, respect your teens’ privacy.

There are so many ways to meet our teens’ unspoken, but much-needed desire to feel loved. Make sure they know!

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some pretty obvious ways to show love to your teens. What would you add to the list?

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