Connecting with your teenage child can sometimes feel almost impossible, but with a bit of time and effort, you’ll succeed and reap the benefits.
This can drastically change a relationship and make getting through the tricky teenage years a little less complicated.
Show Your Love
It seems obvious but showing your teenager that you love them is a major step in creating a solid relationship. Saying “I love you” is something you probably did lots when they were younger. It’s easy and quick to do, so say it regularly. While they may grimace, hug them, give them that embarrassing peck on the cheek or shout you love them across the street. Of course, while we spend a lot of time encouraging our offspring to ensure they seek and give consent, it is the same with you hugging and kissing them; make sure that they are accepting of it.
For most children, love from a parent is one of the few constants in life. While things might not be perfect, that bond will be ongoing regardless of age or location. During the toughest times, you will need each other more than you realise. While your teenager may get tired of hearing you expressing your love for them and not reciprocate, reminding them will show them you love them unconditionally and that you’ll always be there for them.
Show Your Interest
Whether it’s a zombies computer game or a new K-pop group, it’s likely your teenager will form interests that don’t appeal or make sense to you. However, showing curiosity in their endeavours is vital. You may even find that they do interest you after all. A teen’s hobbies are important to them, so make them important to you, as well. After all, these interests may well hang around for longer than their first boyfriend or girlfriend!
Be Their Champion
Showing your teenager that you are proud of their effort and achievements will mean a lot, even if they don’t show it. Be their supporter, that parent encouraging from the side-lines at their football match or the audience of their dance competition. They’ll certainly appreciate it in the future when reflecting on their teenage years, if not in the present moment, and it provides you both a subject about which to chat.
Take Time to Talk
When teenagers are locked away (not literally!) in their rooms, it can be easy to just let them fester with their windows closed, blinds down and curtains shut. However much we may feel that this is how they want to live, leaving them be can make them feel as though you don’t want to spend time with them. Although, nine times out of ten, they may be dismissive of a quick chat and want to crack on with their game or chatting to friends, giving them the option shows you care.
Having regular conversations with your teenager is an essential element of building a solid relationship. Laughing and smiling together? Then you’re doing well. You’ll never discover who your teen really is if you allow them to constantly disappear behind their mobile or computer screen, spending too much time on a game or social media. It’s crazy how much you can miss of someone’s life when they are actually right there in front of you.
Try to set time aside to spend with your teenagers. Whatever your financial situation may be, time is always way more valuable to people and your children deserve that from you. It is natural for people to grow apart as they get older, but it’s vital that you make time to spend with your teen, helping you to stay close. If you have more than one teenager in your household… good luck! But also, do try to spend one to one time with each of them. This can help create a permanent bond.
Remember that you’re their parent not their best friend. You need to establish yourself as a figure of authority within their life, otherwise they will push the boundaries and things will be a lot more strained between the two of you.
Setting firm but reasonable boundaries is part of being a parent and is another way you can improve the connection you have with your teen. While the insults may be thrown out readily when you first start setting boundaries, they will no doubt be appreciative later on in life once they have matured and become responsible, respectful adults. It’s not always easy but remember that you are doing no one any favours if you let them dictate what happens in their lives simply because you’re concerned about making them upset.
While it is essential to keep an eye on your teenager to ensure that they are doing ok, sometimes this might need to happen from a distance, particularly if they begin to pull away. Forcing your child to engage in conversation or activity with you can make things worse. Be sure to communicate that you are there for them when and if they need you.
However, don’t assume your teen beginning to pull away is a normal thing for a teen. Unfortunately, for some, this could be a sign of anxiety, depression or suffering from suicidal thoughts. While the majority will not face this, you should always try to be alert. It may be that you need to employ the services of a counsellor who can support your teenager to work through their concerns and issues.
No one is saying that connecting with your teenage child will ever be easy. However, it is always a valuable thing to do.