Do you remember what it was like to walk up to a person you liked during high school? You wanted to say the right thing, smile the right smile, and make a good impression.
That sounds easy enough; but it wasn’t. Whether it was getting tongue-tied, being self-conscious about our braces, or sweating uncontrollably, communicating with the opposite sex didn’t come naturally for many of us. And relationships haven’t gotten any easier.
Sure, communication is done more with a thumb than with the tongue these days. But the teens in your life still need help building their confidence in communicating.
Healthy relationships start with communication. Encourage teens to go beyond text messages with real conversations. Reinforce the skills they have and help them grow as communicators through practical skill development:
- Converse with them authentically.
- Model great communication skills when they are in your presence.
- Ask them to share their dreams.
- Let them know you’re happy to be a sounding board for their problems.
- Encourage them with words of acceptance, affirmation, and approval when they demonstrate positive attributes and actions.
- Ask them to tell the best, the funniest, and the worst things that happened during the past week.
The teens you know want to connect. They may have lots of “friends” on social media, but studies show most teens feel disconnected. No amount of electronic communication can replace face-to-face conversation. Give the teens you know a gift by encouraging deeper relationships through authentic communication.
We’ve included some conversation starters you can share with teens you know and love. See if they think these ideas would help them get to know a guy or girl they like.
Little Things Matter
Baseball sluggers grab highlights on SportsCenter with 400-foot bombs that fly over the fence. But the World Series is not usually won by a team of power hitters.
It’s the little things that matter in baseball. Laying down a bunt to advance a runner into scoring position and playing a step closer to third base to cut off an extra-base hit can lead to victory. And just like the little things matter in baseball, those things also matter to girls. Hitting a home run with an awesome “promposal” can be a nice highlight. But girls prefer guys with a good batting average, so try to hit a lot of singles and doubles with these ideas:
- Compliment a girl when she changes her hairstyle = A single
- Walk to the door instead of texting that you’re at her house = Another single
- Deliver a favorite candy bar to celebrate that she made the musical = A double
- Write a note to tell her that you respect her and the way she loves God = Another double!
If you constantly swing for the fences, you’ll strike out a lot. Going for base hits makes you somebody a girl can count on. So be consistent in showing kindness. When you do the little things, you’ll set yourself up for big-time success.
Great generals from history have said that an army marches on its stomach. Teen guys definitely do. Guys walk in the door after school, sniff the air, and then shout, “Mom, what’s for dinner?”
When it comes to meeting and getting to know a guy, it’s good to mix food with fun. Try these ideas:
- Make some cookies or brownies, bring them to school, and whisper, “Anyone hungry?” Instantly, a pack of guys may surround you.
- Make plans with a few girls to cook a meal at your house and invite some guys to be the tasters. If you cook it, they will come.
- Plan a youth group activity with food and watch the guys line up . . . and say thanks.
- Ask a guy to name a few favorite foods, and watch his expression as he describes a special meal or treat. Just thinking about food gets a guy going.
- Snap a photo of what you’re cooking, post it on Instagram, and ask who wants a sample.
Food is also important in the Bible. You’ll find that food, celebrations, and miracles often went together. Food breaks down barriers and makes things fun.
By enjoying some food together, you can relax more and simply talk. Just be sure you don’t eat and talk at the same time!
Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people! (Proverbs 18:16)
Check out Girl Talk Guy Talk: Devotions for Teens, the latest book from Jesse Florea and Karen Whiting. These fast-paced devotions will give the teens you know biblically based insights to help both guys and girls better understand and communicate with each other. Various styles of devotions, including stories, checklists, quizzes, fact-based news, text messages, and skill-building tips will encourage and equip young girls and guys to understand how the opposite sex is wired and how to best relate with them.
Karen Whiting is an author and speaker with thirteen published books, and hundreds of articles and short pieces for over four dozen publishers including Focus on the Family Magazine and Christian Parenting Today. She was a contributing writer for Focus on Your Child 2008-2009, writes a quarterly article for Enrichment Journal for pastors and leaders of the Assemblies of God, a quarterly column for Discipleship Ideas magazine, and writes a family page for a monthly denominational newspaper. Whiting has also been the community producer and host of the television series, Puppets On Parade, for Miami educational TV. Whiting has a heart for families and encourages families to connect and live more fully for God. She is a mother of five, and a grandmother.
Jesse Florea has worked at Focus on the Family for nearly twenty years. For more than fifteen, he’s been the editor of Focus on the Family Clubhouse (for boys and girls ages eight to twelve). He’s also worked as the associate editor of Breakaway magazine (teen boys) and developed and edited the Growing Years Edition of Focus on the Family magazine and the Focus on Your Child’s Tween Ages newsletter. He earned bachelor and master’s degrees in communications from Wheaton College, Ill. Additionally, Jesse has written or co-written seven books (including The One Year Sports Devotions for Kids, Adventures of Average Boy: Growing Up Super Average, The One-Year Devos for Sports Fans and The One-Year Everyday Devotionswith Tyndale House Publishers). He lives with his wife, Stephanie, and two teenagers, Nate and Amber, in Colorado Springs.