Pandemic parenting: Starting new with your teenager and young adult kids

Steve Argue, PhD Image Steve Argue, PhD | Apr 16, 2020

Staying at home and social distancing has become the new norm. Parents, along with their teenagers and young adults, are settling in for long-term, life-together existences. I’m one of those parents, and I want to remind myself and anyone who’s willing to join me to make this current reality more than only “enduring” or “surviving.” This shift can be an opportunity to start new habits that could transform our lives and relationships. Here’s what I’m committing to, and I’d love your support and company.

I’m cultivating new relationships.

Yep, that’s right. We are now in a season that brings new relational territory with my older, growing kids. We’re well beyond the familiar “holiday break” existence and are now re-learning how to live together. I’m trying to treat this as a season for new relationships to bloom. This requires an intentional shift in my mindset, or I’ll default to familiar patterns.

Here’s what we’re trying:
  • We have decided to dedicate one night each week when we meet all together to talk about our lives, pray for the world, and check in on how we are each doing. Our daughter and son-in-law who live out of state are joining us via video. Even though we’re living in close proximity, we want to ensure we’re still growing relationally.
  • Beyond our scheduled connection, my wife and daughter have decided to read a book together.
  • The young adults and I have agreed to take turns daily sharing favorite music recommendations.

A new relationship outlook can broaden our connection points and expand our own lives.

I’m committing to new language.

I’ll be honest, I’m already a bit tired of the social media posts where parents poke fun at their kids. It’s all in good jest, but I know well enough that these seemingly light-hearted commentaries can downward-spiral into biting sarcasm. I don’t want to perpetuate a sarcastic climate in our already close quarters.

This means:
  • Asking questions before jumping to conclusions.
  • Assuming the best rather than expecting the worst.
  • Communicating rather than cloaking my feelings.
  • Empathizing rather than demanding my way.

Likely this will mean me apologizing a lot more—I have already had to do this. It may mean learning to talk about new topics or working through old patterns that trigger me. And it will certainly mean I resist taking out my frustrations on my kids or expressing them on social media. The relational environment we create is seeded with the language we plant. I want to contribute to a positive home climate through life-giving words.

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Steve Argue, PhD Image
Steve Argue, PhD

Steven Argue, PhD (Michigan State University) is the Applied Research Strategist for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and Associate Professor of Youth, Family, and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. Steve researches, speaks, and writes on adolescent and emerging adult spirituality. He has served as a pastor on the Lead Team at Mars Hill Bible Church (Grand Rapids, MI), coaches and trains church leaders and volunteers, and has been invested in youth ministry conversation for over 20 years. Steve is the coauthor and contributor of a number of books, including Growing With, 18 Plus: Parenting Your Emerging Adult, and Joy: A Guide for Youth Ministry.

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