10 Things Your Teen Loves to Hear

Betsy de Cruz

Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Updated Sep 05, 2023
10 Things Your Teen Loves to Hear

Some parents might grit their teeth and bemoan the drama of the adolescent years, but I can’t think of anything more fun than hanging out with teens. I liken the teen years to a roller coaster. Once you’re on it, there’s no getting off until the ride’s over, so you might as well stay positive and enjoy it. After all, having teens at home probably means you can have kitchen karaoke parties, or someone who pretends your home is an Indian takeout restaurant when he answers the phone.

Of course, surging hormones and adolescent angst can sometimes cause your teen to explode. He might know how to push your buttons better than anyone else, but positive communication that affirms your teen can improve your relationship and help lessen conflict.

Here are 10 things our teens love and need to hear from us:

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a mom and a teen son, we need to focus on older-child adoption

1. I love you no matter what.

In an effort to encourage our kids to do their best, we can inadvertently communicate that we’d love them more if they got better grades, cleaned their rooms, or worked harder. Our teens need to hear, “I love you. I will love you even if you leave the kitchen a mess, fail your test, wreck the car, or lose your job.”

Our kids face challenges, and they need the security of parents who love them no matter what. So let’s say, “I love you” often.

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Mom hugging teen daughter

2. I'm proud of you.

Many young people have told me the words, “I’m proud of you,” mean the world to them. Our teens desperately want to know we’re pleased with them. No matter what struggles she’s navigating or mistakes she’s made, look for your teen’s positive qualities and talents. As well as telling her specific accomplishments that make you proud, let her know you’re proud of the person she’s becoming.  

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3. I love _________ about you.

3. I love _________ about you.

Your teen is God’s handiwork, fearfully and wonderfully crafted. Yet many voices in the world can tear him down -- thoughtless comments by peers or teachers, bullying, or social media slamming. Remember you as a parent are the most powerful force in helping your teen build a positive self-esteem. Your opinion about him matters more to your teen than anyone else’s, and you can help him combat the negative voices he might hear in the world.

Tell him often what you like about him. “I love your optimism.” “I appreciate how you played with the kids at the party.” “You’ve got a great sense of humor.”

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4. You are beautiful.

4. You are beautiful.

Adolescents often wrestle insecurity or low self-esteem, and today’s teens face more social pressure than previous generations because of social media. Just the other day, my daughter, who happens to be beautiful, received this hate message on Instagram: “You’re way too ugly to post selfies.” It crushed her. I could barely get my mind around the fact that she believed that message even for a minute, yet she needed reassurance. 

Girls have a deep need to know they’re beautiful, inside and out. Guys also need to know they’re handsome, beautiful people.

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A smiling father and son walking and talking together outside

5. What do you think?

Our teens want to know we value their opinions. Let’s ask what they think about the news, politics, and social issues. This lets them know we believe they have important things to say and contribute. It can also encourage them to think for themselves instead of going along with the crowd.

Teens also appreciate having a voice in family decisions. Even though parents carry the ultimate responsibility for decision-making, we need to honor our kids’ growing sense of autonomy by asking for and considering their opinions. 

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Mom having serious talk with daughter on couch

6. I'm ready to listen.

Teens will experience many crises as they ride the hormonal roller coaster, navigate social pressure, and struggle with their studies. As parents, our first urge is to try to fix their problems. Sometimes we do have helpful suggestions they hadn’t considered, but perhaps most of all teens need us to listen long and well, even if it means staying up past our bedtimes. 

Here’s our chance to practice James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

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Mom talking to teen daughter

7. I believe in you.

Our young people want to know we have confidence in them and their abilities. They yearn for the encouragement that comes from hearing things like this: 

“I know you have what it takes for this project.” 

“It may be hard, but keep working! You’ve got this.” 

"You’d make a great engineer/nurse/therapist/entrepreneur.” 

Maybe you didn’t get the grade you wanted, but this doesn’t define you. You have a lot going for you.”

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Mother and daughter embracing in front of a packed car

8. I can't wait to see what your future holds.

As he gets older, your teen will face stressful choices regarding his future. Reassure him that he can relax instead of worry. Scripture tells us why: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

This promise reminds our kids their future doesn’t depend only on them. They can be confident that God will open the right doors for them. They don’t have to fear making the wrong decision about where to go to college or what to study. If a decision doesn’t work out, they can always change it later. As they follow God step by step, He will bless them.

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Father daughter date

9. I enjoy you.

You can build your teen’s self-esteem by letting her know you enjoy not only being with her, but you also enjoy her as a person. Express delight in her creativity, her wit, or her hard work. Laugh often when you’re together. Let her know you have fun talking and spending time together.

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family movie night, Best family movies streaming in June

10. Can we do something fun together?

The thing about teenagers is we need to love and enjoy them as best we can because we don’t have many years left with them at home. Every opportunity is golden. Whether it’s watching a favorite TV series, walking to the ice cream shop, going out to dinner, or taking a road trip, time together enhances our relationships and builds fun into our family culture. 

Let’s face it: our teens may take more interest in spending time with their friends than with us. Still, if parents seek out opportunities to spend time together, they’ll usually respond. When we make time for fun together, our teens know we enjoy them, and we have a chance to tell them what they need to hear from us.

Betsy de Cruz writes to encourage people to stick close to God, even when life gets bumpy and crazy. Most days she feels privileged to live with her family in the Middle East; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. Betsy’s passion is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out. On her blog, Faithspillingover.com, you’ll find tips for Bible study, prayer, family life, and everyday faith. You’ll also find Betsy on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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Originally published Friday, 14 July 2017.