Parents often dread the teenage years. It saddens them to watch their cute, little baby transform into a distant, moody, alien that they can no longer communicate with. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can build a stronger relationship with your teenager if you do these the following things:
Tell Them How Much You Care
When was the last time you told your teenager that you loved him/her? Teenagers need to hear encouraging words from their parents. They need to hear you say you’re proud of them, you support them, and that you care for them. These simple words can draw parents and teenagers closer together. Use them frequently, but make sure you’re honestly expressing genuine sentiments. Teenagers know when they’re being patronized and will rebel. Speak words that show authentic care and concern and your teenager will feel safe, secure, and loved.
Spend time together
Many parents make the mistake of distancing themselves from their teenage children. The teen years are a critical point in children’s development and they need parents to be actively involved in their lives. Make a point to have dinner together, play games, or take family trips with your children. Find an activity that you both love and spend time doing that. Although they won’t always admit it, teenagers appreciate the time you spend with them. They aren’t as embarrassed of you as they pretend to be.
Show Interest in Their World
Do you know your teenager’s best friend? Do you know their favorite band? What’s their favorite class at school? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to bond with your child. Even if you don’t approve of their answers, they will appreciate that you took the time to learn about their world. When they know you’re really interested their lives, they will be more willing to share things that they may have kept hidden.
Encourage Their Dreams
Many teenagers have had their dreams squashed by a parent’s disapproval. It’s important that parents support their children’s dreams no matter how wacky they may sound. The teenage years are a time for children to explore many interests. Ask your children questions about their dreams and offer encouragement. Your support will empower them to dream big and have the confidence to do incredible things.
Avoid Criticizing Them
While it’s easy to criticize our teenagers’ choices in clothing, music, and friends, we must resist the urge to do so. Teenagers will shut down all communication if they feel as if their parents are constantly attacking them and their choices. Keep the doors of communication open by picking your battles wisely. Teenagers need acceptance and validation from their parents – not constant criticism. If you must criticize, be gentle and constructive and do it in a loving manner.
Really Listen to Them
The best thing parents can do to solidify their relationships with their teenage children is listen. As parents, we want to solve our teenagers’ problems and give them advice. Sometimes they don’t want our advice. All they want is to be heard – to know that their voice matters. If you take the time to listen, you can learn so much about your teenager. More importantly, your child will trust you and confide in you when they’re dealing with major issues.
Give Them Some Space
As parents, we want to hold on to our children, but we have to learn to let go. Teenagers need space to explore the world and discover their place in it. Although it can be painful to watch them pull away from us, we have to allow them the freedom to grow up.
Question: How to do you remain connected with your teenagers and/or other children?
Originally published in Babble as a slideshow – “7 Ways for Parents to Connect With Their Teenagers“