What is the best holiday gift for your teenager? Try the “F” Word

Is your parenting relationship with your teenager filled with conflict? Do you know you want a better relationship, but do not know how to get there?

Well, here is the stepping stone to a great relationship path with your son or daughter this holiday season. Ready? It’s the “F” word…..forgiveness. That’s right! Forgiveness. Something that is does not cost a cent and can make all the difference in your parenting relationship.

During the holiday season, there are a ton of advertisements that offer parents the “perfect” gifts for teenagers. Sure the gifts and the gadgets are great, and your teenagers are sure to love them. But, I’m not sure it is the BEST gift your teenager wants.

What is the best holiday gift you can give your teenager this holiday season?

A relationship with you! Despite all the affluence and wealth in the world, I believe most of today’s teenagers desire a close relationship with their family. I also believe even those teenagers that say family is unimportant to them still wish for strong relationships with their parents.

How do you start having a better relationship with your teenager this holiday season?

Is it love? A better knowledge of what your teenager is going through? More patience with the decisions they are making? While all of the above are valuable to any parental relationship, the life blood in any healthy relationship is forgiveness. Forgiveness can melt away the cold distance that subtly builds between family members, especially parents and teenagers. Without forgiveness, one cannot love to their fullest potential, walk in another person’s shoes, nor be patient without having expectations of the other person.

Why do we not forgive?

If forgiveness is the life blood of any relationship, then resentment is its death. Resentment hinders any growth, with the exception of itself. It stunts a relationship by keeping it at the same place where the resentment began. It does not seem to move beyond this place. Resentment can also linger around like a low-grade fever, never really exploding into a full blown argument. All the while, gaining strength and causing further family division. But, if left alone, little by little resentment can develop into bitterness.

Resentment is also sneaky as it is often repackaged. Often, parents and teenagers may not be aware that they are holding onto resentment. Sometimes it is given a different name other than anger. As a counselor, clients will frequently say, “I’m not angry, just a little upset” or my favorite one “I’m not angry, I’m just frustrated.” You can rename it whatever you need to, however it is still resentment.

What does forgiveness look like in the relationship with your teenager?

Ask one hundred different people, and you would likely get one hundred different answers. Here is my definition of forgiveness: when your relationship is free of the slightest bit of anger because you have worked through any negative emotions resulting from your teenager’s behaviors. It does not mean you have forgotten what took place or denied your teenager’s behaviors. Rather, you are not controlled emotionally by them. The sole path to forgiveness begins with conflict resolution.

Do you need to give the gift of forgiveness to your teenager this holiday season?