Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. (Proverbs 28:14)

When our heart closes, we often fall into trouble. There are hundreds of ways to offend your teen and close her heart, but we consistently see several that top the list. One was illustrated by a man named Chip who told us at our seminar about the lasting effects of a sarcastic comment made years before by his dad. When Chip was a teenager, a friend came over to his house one day, and Chip's father answered the door. This friend had not seen Chip's dad for several months, and the dad took one look at the boy and uttered in a bad attempt at humor, "You've grown so much! I didn't realize they stacked crap that high!"

The father's cutting remark left the young visitor hurt and embarrassed. As a result of that and similar comments, Chip's friend stopped coming over to his house. And Chip still remembered the deep hurt and pain from the experience.

Besides the making of sarcastic jokes or comments, here are the top five categories of teenage "heart closers":

1. Don't let them think on their own.

• "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

• "Try saying that at school and they'll laugh you out of the class."

• "You're too young to understand."

• "Who asked you?"

• "Please don't interrupt. Can't you see I'm trying to solve this problem?"

2. Inhibit their freedom to speak their mind.

• "That's enough talking. Go play and let us be alone for a while!"

• "No, I don't have time to listen to your drivel."

• "Is there an end to this?"

• "What you say is always so confusing!"

3. Regard their feelings as unimportant.

• "Son, you've got to get over those little things. Grow up!"

• "Come on, that's just the way your brother is. Stop taking everything so personally."

• "That shouldn't hurt your feelings. Why, when I was your age I got twice as much teasing as you get."

• "If you're going to get upset every time we go over there, I'm just not going to take you again."

• "Movies like that are just make-believe. Grow up! There's nothing to be afraid of."

4. Avoid spending time with them.

• "I've got only two days to finish this report, so no, I can't go see your play."

• "Do you think money grows on trees? I've got to work."

• "See if your mother will take you. I don't have time for this."

5. Disrespect their individuality.

• "I said, don't lock the bathroom. I may need in there to comb my hair."

• "I'm your father. I know what's best for you."

• "I don't care how many of your friends are going. You're not, and I don't want to know your reasons."

• "Don't be silly. They'll like your hairstyle."

Other parental actions likely to close a teen's heart include the following:

• Speaking harsh words