Now that we’ve looked at what gifts aren’t and what they are, we’ll look at what they can be. As you use creativity and dream big about the potential impact of your love-gift questions, hopefully God will use them to impact the life of your teen.
Gifts Can Be Surprises or Become Traditions
There is beauty in those unanticipated “just because” gifts, but also in the predictable rhythms of traditions. In establishing a gift-giving tradition of relational questions, perhaps you’d like to use these printable questions and put them in your car or on your kitchen counter. They can provide the backdrop for the ride home from school or drama rehearsal or while preparing dinner or sitting around the dinner table.
The concept is to provide intentional times of relationship-building when your teen knows he or she will have a chance to share and be listened to. For more reserved teens, it can be helpful to know when they will be asked to participate in meaningful conversation. You can even incorporate this into your family’s holiday and milestone traditions, inviting comparison and celebration of personal growth, from one year to the next.
Gifts Can Be Reciprocated
In Part 2, we mentioned the idea that offering relational questions, as well as listening to the answers, can be the beginning of a conversation. Depending on the personality and maturity of your teen, hopefully at some point, questions will come back your way. You should not expect or manipulate such a return, but you can anticipate it.
When you offer your own experience or perspective as “unsolicited advice,” it may well fall on deaf ears; however, when your teen asks you? The opportunity is golden! While hoping for reciprocation cannot be your main motivation in starting the conversation, it can certainly be a benefit. When you do receive a question in return, it’s important that you view it as a love-gift and appreciate and savor it before launching into a lecture that far outweighs that 5-to-1 ratio!
Rather than launching into a monologue, you can share a little and then ask your teen another question. Starting with phrases like “Don’t you think” or “Do you remember the time” or “Have you thought about what would happen if” can utilize the right-brain activity that’s more likely to produce an emotional and action-oriented response.
Gifts Can Be Re-Gifted
Today’s teens and young adults often struggle socially with face-to-face interactions, largely due to their dependence on technology. As you love your teen by asking meaningful questions and listening with empathy, you are modelling skills that are often lacking in his peers. As your teen develops those “soft skills” that apply to all relationships and gains confidence in using them at home, he will be more likely to use them in interacting with his peers, teachers, coaches, and others. Not only will this position him as a leader among his peers, but it will also allow those conversation skills to enhance the lives of others. It truly is a gift that keeps giving!