Quality time during the teenage years might not always seem possible with the many distractions that compete for our attention and our teens’ tendency to push us away. But finding ways to connect with your teenager is possible. Here are just a few things to consider as you navigate through the twists and turns of your child’s adolescence:
Accept that changes are happening
Your teenager is maturing physically, mentally, and emotionally. Priority of relationships shifts from family to their friends, and the reality that actions lead to consequences begins to take hold at a deeper level. In an ongoing search for identity, your teen is exploring who they are apart from you, while also attempting to make sense of the world around them. Be sensitive to these changes and allow them to stretch their independence in a responsible way.
Learn about what interests them
Parenting at any stage of development is about relationship. Look for ways to relate to your teenager and connect to their day to day world. If your teen likes Marvel movies, beef up your own superhero viewing. If your teen likes fashion, research different trends and designers. Be curious and interested in what is important to them. It helps to show them not only that you care, but also that their interests matter. When you discover them, it will open up a wealth of conversation topics.
Never stop pursuing your teen
Today’s culture bombards young minds with messages that can create confusion and uncertainty. Because of this, your teen needs you now just as much as they did when they were younger to help navigate the world around them. Car trips and mealtimes can be great, natural times to engage your teen in conversation. Or consider setting aside time to do something interactive together that you both enjoy. If you need help getting the conversation started, here’s a link with some great question ideas: http://www.teenadvisors.org/conversation-starters.
With a bit of effort and some patience, you will begin to discover your teen’s thoughts, dreams, disappointments, and fears. You might be surprised how much they will let you into their life when approached with a genuine curiosity about the world through their eyes.