I have survived the teen years with two kids so far (still have two more to go). I have picked up a few strategies I feel have helped me create a space to encourage the relationship with each of them. I felt the back to school season might be the perfect time to share with those moms who have some older kids.
Just like when you were a teenager, you wanted to spend time with your peers rather than with your parents or family, right? Or at least that was me. I had a healthy mix of both. However, I think it can be a tough transition for parents, especially when you have your first child enter the teen years.
There are ways to create conversation and continue to stay connected without being the parent that asks too much or seems too much like you are giving a speech. Here are some tips:
1. Talk More
It’s better if you start the conversation. It can be just, “How was your day?” Try to discuss many things instead of interrogating. Find interesting topics, such as sports, entertainment, friends, and school experiences to make it relaxing.
If your teen shares some criticism, listen and ask what he/she expects you to do. Talk about this wisely, not emotionally. It’s good for your teen to be able to express his/her feelings to you. Just be an ear to listen.
3. Set Rules
Your teen needs to recognize what is and isn’t acceptable and what the consequences of misbehavior are. Therefore, you should set (or rather negotiate) some rules with your teen to keep him/her on track. Allow some freedom of choice, but when things do not work out well, pull back the reins.
4. Consider Your Teen’s Point of View
See your teen as your friend and respect his/her opinion whenever you discuss something. This also shows that you pay attention to him/her and consider him/her as important. I have found this particularly important when we have dinner conversations and specifically when we have discussions about our faith. I have to remember that this is a time of growing and discovery, so encouraging that path is good.
5. Encourage Your Teen’s Interests and Talents
Most teens like to try new things. Let yours choose what he/she desires, even if don’t agree with it because, for example, it has the potential to be dangerous. Giving support is the best you can do, while you keep monitoring that the new activity is actually safe. Moreover, this idea is a good way of teaching your teen how to be responsible.
6. Do Things Together
This one is surely a great opportunity for you to improve your relationship with your teen. Our schedules are busy, but when you set aside time to spend with your teen, it sends a powerful message – YOU ARE IMPORTANT! I love that. Games, biking, soccer, playing catch, and going for a frozen yogurt together are great examples of just “hanging out”.
Warm and positive communication without underestimating your teen is key to a successful relationship between the two of you. Clearly it won’t work at once. Try the tips progressively and enjoy your time being a parent of a teenager.