Ideas to earn influence with your teen

When your child was young, connecting was easy. They relied on you for even the simple things, like getting dressed and eating meals. Now that your child is a teenager, however, your help is not as needed. In fact, they may want to distance themselves from you as much as possible (especially in front of their peers!).

As your teen establishes their own identity, remember that they still need you, just in a different way. Your unconditional love as their parent is invaluable and irreplaceable. As they shift, you can shift how you connect with them. Here are four tips to earn trust and earn influence with your teen:

1) Schedule one-on-one time

One-on-one time with your teen is a valuable way to connect. Be curious about their interests. Ask your teen what they want to do. You might plan a nice meal at their favorite restaurant or a day trip to a museum. Whatever the activity, make sure it is meaningful to your teen. Also, follow up. Make your time together a routine. For example, if your teen loves movies, make it monthly movie time.

2) Cook together

Homework, chores and other expectations may drive your teen to isolate themselves while they are home. To get them more involved with the family, ask your teen if they would like to cook or bake together. Teach them how to make that recipe they always devour. Or, perhaps they have a sweet tooth and you can try a new cookie recipe together. Let your teen own the cooking; let them select what they want to make.

3) Get to know your teen’s friends

Friendships are vital to teenagers. Take the time to get to know your teen’s friends. Care about their friends’ families and their activities. Make your home a space where your teen and their friends want to be. Let your teen host movie night or a game tournament at your house. Buy pizza for them. Give them breathing room to have fun together.

4) Listen to your teen

Your teen has a lot going on. Take the time to listen to their needs and frustrations. Ask questions at appropriate times. Avoid jumping to solutions. Give them space to come to you and navigate their own thoughts and opinions. Ultimately, your teen wants to be known. Listening to them allows you to get to the root of the issue and love them in meaningful ways.

If you are still struggling to connect with your teen, consider Shelterwood. At Shelterwood, we are driven to see the lives of teens transformed. We surround teens with a community of people committed to their growth, including dozens of dynamic young adult staff. Contact us to begin your journey to family restoration.

How to help your teen build a support system

“It takes a village to raise a child” is a familiar saying, and with good reason. As your teen grows, it is important for them to get to know other adults who are here to help. A support system equips teens to solve problems independently. Relationships with people besides Mom and Dad show them that they are so well loved, even beyond their immediate family. Plus, a network of trusted adults teaches teens to seek out resources when they face a challenge. Here are some ways to help your teen build a support system, fostering strong relationships among other important adults in their life.

Show your teen what it looks like to ask for — and accept — help.

Helping your teen build a support system starts with you. When you accept help, you teach your child an important lesson: everyone needs help sometimes, and it is okay to ask for it. Start with something small at home. Ask your teen for assistance putting away the groceries. Ask a friend to water the plants while you are out of town. Your teen can also benefit from seeing you support someone else. If a neighbor just had a baby, for example, invite your teen to join you in preparing and delivering a meal. This demonstrates how a community of people come together to help each other.

Invite other influential adults into your family’s life.

One way for your teen to begin building a support network is by strengthening relationships that already exist. Create opportunities for your teen to engage further with people who could be a positive influence in your teen’s life. Informal interactions set the stage. Invite the new youth pastor over for a casual weeknight dinner. Join your teen in volunteering locally, where he can meet other adults driven to help a good cause. Do not overlook those in your family, like grandparents, cousins or aunts and uncles. Help your teen foster these relationships in an informal setting.

Help your teen expand the circle.

The next time your teen asks for help, resist offering a solution right away. Instead, consider how your teen might reach out to another trusted adult. Point your teen in the right direction with ideas of people who can reinforce the same kind of positive behavior you hope to model. For example, if your teen is worried about his class schedule for the next semester, suggest his guidance counselor. If your teen is struggling with peer pressure, you might suggest her older cousin who faced a similar challenge when she was younger.

Nurture your teen’s passions.

Help your teen build bridges to adults who are pursuing paths that mirror your teen’s passion. For example, if your teen loves animals, help him set up volunteer opportunities at an animal shelter. Your softball player daughter might volunteer at a clinic for kids playing t-ball. These situations introduce your teen to people who have turned their passion into a career.

At Shelterwood, we believe in the power a community can have to restore a child. In fact, our young adult mentors are central to our program at Shelterwood. If you are curious about how Shelterwood can help your struggling teen, reach out to our admissions team. We are here to help.


“I saw her gain respect for herself, and she found who she was in Christ.”

Before Shelterwood, “it was complete chaos,” Tracie Manriquez says. Yet today, three years since her daughter Kate’s graduation from Shelterwood, the family is transformed. Rafael Manriquez, Kate’s father, points to a simple but profound change: “Before Shelterwood, Kate referred to me as ‘Rafael,’” he says. “Now, she calls me Dad.”

Rafael and Tracie were consumed with worry about Kate’s increasingly reckless behavior. “Our marriage was on the rocks, relationships were ruined, Kate was making bad decisions because she was insecure and did not respect herself,” Tracie says. “Every day was just a battlefield — every day, we were fighting, arguing and worried about what Kate would do. Nothing worked, and she was just getting worse.”

She had fallen in with the wrong crowd and Kate hit her lowest point when she and several other students were arrested. “That was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Tracie recalls. “She was dealing with some serious stuff.”

Tracie and Rafael had been looking at programs in California, where they lived, but Kate’s grandmother found Shelterwood. Although it was far from home, Tracie and Rafael knew it was the best option for Kate. “It was perfect. We liked the role Shelterwood had in being both Biblically-based and therapeutic. We applied, they accepted her and within a week of her arrest, she was on her way to Shelterwood,” Tracie says. She and Rafael hired a transport agency because they knew they personally would not have been able to get Kate on an airplane.

Tracie reflects on the day Kate arrived at Shelterwood. “That day was sad. I felt guilt and failure, but I also felt relief. It was the hardest day of my life.”

Slowly but surely, God used Shelterwood to change Kate’s heart. “Kate felt like the other Shelterwood students had a worse family life than what she had. That opened her eyes to realize, wow, she was not alone and she needed to take back control of her life,” Rafael says.

“Her Shelterwood counselor really saw in her that she had a heart for God and needed some direction,” Tracie says. “I saw her gain respect for herself, and she found who she was in Christ. For the first time she felt beautiful. She dove into Bible study and really took hold of that and ran with it.”

Integral to Kate’s healing was the combination of multiple forms of therapy. Kate enjoyed serving on the kitchen staff. “She really embraced that and she felt that she had worth and had something to give back,” Tracie says. She also learned a lot from the ropes course. “The ropes course helped her learn how to depend on others. To be outside and to do something different than she had ever done helped her build confidence.”

Rafael also points to the excellent education Kate received while at Shelterwood. “The education was great,” he says. Kate graduated six months earlier while she was there and she even received help with her college applications while she was at Shelterwood.”

Three years later, the entire family has been transformed. “Our whole family is in a much better place,” Tracie says. “It was hard to trust Kate before, because what she was doing was hurting the family. Today, Kate takes responsibility for her actions, while before it was always the blame game. We have a very strong relationship because of her time at Shelterwood. Several times, she has said, I just want to make you proud. That means so much to us from where we were before.”

Today, Kate enjoys her full-time work as an assistant property manager — and as her relationship with Rafael and Tracie continues to strengthen, Katie is embracing her Shelterwood testimony. “Kate is getting ready to speak at our church about her time at Shelterwood. She hopes to help other girls. She knows she was led through this experience and she wants to help other girls who are struggling with what she has faced.” Read about Kate’s journey from her perspective.

If your teen’s story sounds like Kate’s, Shelterwood can help. Take the first step towards transformation for your whole family. Reach out today: 866.585.8939.