Communication strategies for parents and teens

Recently, Shelterwood Program Director Rujon Morrison and Brain Balance Program Director Amanda Gunter joined forces to share communication strategies with parents. Their presentation “New Connections: Empowering Communication” walks through many facets of how parents and teens connect with each other.

Amanda Gunter Rujon Morrison 1024x512 Communication strategies for parents and teens
Rujon Morrison and Amanda Gunter discuss communication strategies for parents and teens.

During their conversation, Rujon and Amanda explore:

  • Various methods of communication, from loved-based vs. fear-based to healthy vs. unhealthy
  • How our unique temperaments influence the way we communicate — and the way we prefer to be communicated with
  • The components of emotional intelligence
  • Communication styles and attachment styles
  • How a teenager’s brain age and developmental stage impacts their communication
  • The relationship between IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence) — and how this impacts our ability to share our thoughts or share our emotions

Amanda and Rujon offer actionable ideas and tangible strategies to communicate while navigating the often turbulent teenage years, as well as how Shelterwood works with teens on communication and restoration. Listen below:

“Coming to Shelterwood . . . is a gift that I wish more teens got.”

“I truly wish that 90% of the teens who I talk to in America would come to Shelterwood for a year. This is not a punishment — this is an opportunity. . . . This is a gift that I wish more teens got.”

— Jessie Minassian, leading author, speaker and creator of, on why she is proud to recommend Shelterwood

This fall, author and speaker Jessie Minassian visited Shelterwood for a weekend intensive with teens, challenging students to not see Shelterwood as a punishment, but as the opportunity of a lifetime.

“This is a perfect opportunity for kids to get away from the demands and pressures of their life. Shelterwood is a perfect environment to ask questions and reflect on their life — where has it gone so far, and where do they want their life to go?” Jessie says. “It is the right place to make the changes they need to make. This is why Shelterwood sees so much transformation take place.”

For more than 10 years, Jessie has been writing and speaking to teen girls and has a passion to see young women grow in God. Especially after the release of my book Unashamed, I wanted to provide resources for teens who were coming clean about their struggles for the first time. That is how I began learning about residential treatment centers and where students can go to get a re-start.”

Shelterwood President Jim Subers invited Jessie to Shelterwood after hearing her speak on Focus on the Family. Jessie began her time on campus with an evening focused on the teen girls. “It was a great time and the girls asked the best questions. It was the liveliest Q-and-A I’ve ever done!” Jessie says. “A lot of them are hurting very deeply, but it was clear they knew Shelterwood is an environment where they can ask those hard questions.” The next day, Jessie was the featured speaker during the weekly Shelterwood Chapel.

IMG 1200 1024x683 “Coming to Shelterwood . . . is a gift that I wish more teens got.”

“So many ministries think that if you just pray a little harder or just stop being so stubborn, things will work out — but there is so much pain these students are facing, and Shelterwood is a place that is unparalleled in how they care for students therapeutically and spiritually. Shelterwood does a wonderful job of balancing cutting-edge clinical care with spiritual truth.”

The men and women serving Shelterwood students also made a mark on Jessie. “I was so impressed with the leadership at Shelterwood,” she says. “Everyone here cares deeply about the students and they truly have teens’ best interests at heart. As a parent myself, you want to know that these adults are going to take care of them and care for their hearts. From the leadership at the top down to the mentors and staff, everyone is empathetic and caring.”

This is the hardest time in history to be a teenager, Jessie says. “Some challenges are universal, like the struggle to fit in and the pressure to feel wanted by your peers, but all of these difficulties are amplified by this digital age, and teens are feeling the pressure of that. Teens are facing so many pressures and temptations that our grandparents wouldn’t have dreamed of,” she explains.

“My heart goes out to any parent considering Shelterwood. This is a fresh start for you and for your child. Your child will grow and change in ways that will probably surprise you,” she shares. “Shelterwood is such a unique combination of really excellent therapeutic treatment, but also that strong commitment to ministry.”

Substances made me feel invincible

I was stumbling down a path of bad influences

Before I arrived at Shelterwood, I did a lot of “soul-searching” and not in the right ways. I turned to drugs, alcohol, and bad influences to fill me up as a person. I thought that I was discovering myself and substances made me feel invincible, the person I thought I really wanted to be. I started to get into other things like sneaking out, ditching school, and not getting along with my parents. My parents started to catch on to my behavior.

The summer before I arrived at Shelterwood, I left my house because the tension between my parents and me was just too much for me to handle. I left my phone at home and packed my bags. I stayed with one of my friends for the entire summer and couch surfed with nothing on which to survive. My parents contacted me and we made a plan to meet up.

I thought I was going to be able to move back in for the school year but next thing I know, I am saying goodbye to my little sister and driving all the way out to Missouri. I thought my world was crashing down all in one day. I didn’t think my life would go this way and thinking about how out of control I was, it was really scaring me.

There are so many things that I could say impacted me at Shelterwood. The one I most value is learning how to relate to people and just getting to know them on a personal level before I make a judgment. I really benefited from just learning who I was as a person. I set goals for myself and I really figured out what I wanted to do with my future and how I was going to get there.

I left Shelterwood feeling the most confident, happy, and healthy person I really have ever been. My parents and I had some rough patches after I left Shelterwood. But we are starting to learn who we are as people, how we work, and to love beyond the things we can’t change about each other.

I am a strong person now, and I know what I want and how to achieve it. I am so thankful for everything they did for me at Shelterwood. It was a great time to get away and just spend some time to discover who I was. I am so grateful that I got this opportunity.

Chloe S.