Reconnecting With Your Teenager

One of the most challenging parts of being a parent of a teenager is the ever-changing role that we play in their lives. Don't you ever wish you could turn back the clock to a time when your children shared everything and couldn't get enough hugs?

When they were younger, at times, it was easier. We knew we had to feed them, watch them and teach them, and help them with many daily activities. Now that they are older and more independent, they might still let you hug them, occasionally. However, if they are anything like my teenagers, it is always on their terms. Try it any other time, and they turn into a human surfboard.

Even though our role as parents has changed, one thing that has stayed the same is the importance of being involved in our children's lives, regardless of their age.

As parents, as we show our support and stay involved, it helps us to develop and maintain strong relationships with our teenagers. These relationships also help to protect teenagers from risky behaviors and can improve their sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

Staying involved in your teenager's life can become more and more difficult as they become more involved with friends, homework, after school activities, and jobs. So as parents, how do we reconnect with them and stay engaged in their lives?

1. Avoid forcing closeness. Experts advise letting your teenager go when they pull away. This is hard for me, but I have learned to not take it personally. Your teenagers will come back, and when they do, it's important to be there for them and let them know that you love them.

  • Being a parent of a teenager is a delicate balancing act. If we chase after them or make them feel guilty for not wanting to spend time with us, it makes things worse. Not doing anything, though, can send the message that you don't care. Instead, try telling them that you understand they need their space.

2. Find new ways to be affectionate. A squeeze on the arm or a quick back scratch might be more acceptable to your teen than a hug or a kiss on the forehead. Affection can never go beyond the wishes of the person that wants the lesser amount. 3. Spend time on their terms. Adults like to sit down with good friends and chat. Teenagers like to watch YouTube videos or play video games.

  • We need to recognize the importance of doing things with them that they enjoy. This may mean spending some time learning their favorite video game or watching their favorite Tik Tok videos.

  • It can be easy to always decide what activity we are going to do as a family, especially if it is something we enjoy as adults. But it is important for us to do things with our teenagers that they enjoy and to show an interest in what they like, even when we don't because it means we care about them and are interested in knowing them.

4. Work on being present. Be part of your child's day-to-day activities. Sometimes it's just a matter of showing up to watch your teen play sports, perform music, or just driving them to their extracurricular activities. They might not want to hear from you, but they like to know that you're there. 5. Focus on listening instead of talking. By the time our children are teenagers, we've lived quite a bit and have plenty of advice to give. But many times, others would prefer we listen and keep our mouths closed. This is true with our teenagers, too.

  • It's challenging, but try to just listen and keep quiet unless asked for advice. All relationships are enhanced by effective listening skills.

6. Allow them to make mistakes. While we'd all like to protect our teenagers from everything, everyone needs to make mistakes and learn from them. Teenagers that are over-protected frequently struggle when it's time to face the world on their own.

  • Try to validate their feelings. When we validate our teenagers, it shows that we have confidence in them.

  • Parents need to understand that we can validate our children without agreeing with them. We can think something is a bad idea but still validate them and their feelings. When we do this, it still gives them the autonomy to make their own choices.

7. Remember what it was like. When you were a teenager, you were probably preoccupied with your peers and the opposite sex, worried about the future and wanted more privacy. Your teenager is no different.

It's natural for space to develop between teenagers and their parents. A child can't suddenly transform from being your little baby to fending for himself overnight. There's a transitional period that everyone passes through. It's challenging for both the teen and the parents.

It's important to be available for your child but not smother them. Be patient and love them.

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