Teenagers. The ultimate conundrum for parents, despite the fact that we used to be them – once. Teenagers and parents are always at odds and it’s mostly because teenagers are not quite children, not quite independent adults yet. Finding the balance between the two to ensure that everyone is happy is important, and it’s as important for teenagers to remain connected to their parents as it is for parents to feel like they still matter to their kids.
The good news is that even if your sweet little one has turned from angel-faced child to surly teenager overnight, you can still remain connected to them. From talking about contraception to talking about all the firsts that they have to come, you need to stay as connected to your teenager as possible so that your relationship into adulthood will thrive. Below, we’ve put together some of the ways that you can keep your relationship with your teenager a positive one, riding out those years as a strong unit and not against each other.
- Listen. The simplest piece of advice you can ever get about your teenagers is to listen to them. They will want to do things on their own terms – and that’s okay – with your guidance, of course. You can guide without hovering. You can listen without solving a problem, too. You can ask them, “Are we solving problems or venting today?” and allow them to have control of the conversation to help themselves. Your teenager deserves your ear, and a non-judgemental one at that.
- Ritual. Teenagers – despite what they say – need to have boundaries. You can create little rituals as a family that they can look forward to, from Friday pizza night at the local Italian to always saying “I love you” when you hang up the phone. Those small things that you do consistently are things that your teenager will come to rely on from you, and you can ensure that you are remaining connected simply by giving them these little ropes of love for them to hold onto.
- Reflect. Instead of judging the things that your teenager is doing, or the clothes they are wearing, you need to ask reflective questions. If they’re struggling with someone in their social circle, ask them how they would advise their friend/sister to handle it. Ask how they would feel in the shoes of the other person that they are butting heads with, and help them to gain perspective.
- Safety. Staying connected often means biting your tongue away from nagging your teenager. Safety is so important with your teenager, as the pressure that they are going to come up against could prevent them from feeling as if they have any control over themselves. Talk about drinking and drugs – when they are of age and they bring it up, too. Talk about sex and make all of these things open conversations. If they’re old enough to ask the questions, they’re old enough to hear the answers!
Teenagers crave your support – they just don’t know how to tell you that!