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3. Get it right the second time. God is the God of the second chance. We need to give our teens second chances. How many? Jesus says that we are to forgive 70 times seven, which indicates an infinite number of times (see Matt. 18:21-35).

You have the opportunity to record over the first tape. Explore different ways you could respond to the same crisis. Work on the conversation until you're both satisfied with it.

4. Create warning flags. The next time either of you senses that a wall is going up, stop the conversation. Try one of the following stoppers:

Time out. Call a "time out" to allow your emotions to settle down--but for no more than 30 minutes.

Affirm me, please. Ask for a one-minute affirmation--for one minute, each of you has to say affirming things to the other.

Let's pray. Ask for prayer. If you are unable to pray without intense emotions invading the prayer, then say the Lord's Prayer together (see Matt. 6:9-13).

Write it down. Write down what you want to communicate, read each other's notes and then respond by writing again or talking--whichever is less threatening.

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING Finally, be proactive by praying--on your own, with your spouse or with your teen. Praying Psalm 51:1-10 is a good place to start. Here's another prayer to help keep you focused:

Almighty God, help me as I work with my teen to tear down the wall of miscommunication. Guide me to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Give me spiritual eyes to discern my teen's heart.

Make me aware of my words so that I guard my tongue. And Lord, help me bring closure to our talks so that nothing hurtful is left hanging. Holy Spirit, empower me to keep the wall of miscommunication down. Amen.


Larry Keefauver, D. Min., has been a youth pastor, pastor and counselor for teens and families for over 30 years. He is the author of Lord, I Wish My Husband Would Pray With Me (Charisma House) and the former senior editor of Ministries Today magazine.

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