The parent-child relationship is one of the longest-lasting and the most important relationship we have. During the teen years, however, it can become difficult to keep that relationship feeling solid. As teens naturally begin to pull away and assert their independence, they spend less time with parents, talk less, and often present an attitude that makes it very difficult to feel close to them.
We don’t have to settle for a distant relationship with our teens, though. There are things we can do to make sure that we still have a strong bond, despite their steady march toward adulthood.
Tell your child you love him. Tell him you miss him. Tell him you want to spend time with him. Ask him how his day went, and tell him about yours. Even if he doesn’t seem to be listening, keep sharing. The open door to communication will remind him that you are still there whenever he’s ready to talk. Express yourself – the good, bad, and ugly – so that he knows he can safely express himself.
You probably try to be very clear with your teen about some things: when curfew is, where she can drive the car, whether or not she can hang out with Sally. It’s good to be clear about those things, but there are other expectations that you should also be clear about, such as your family’s core values and beliefs. How you feel about drugs, drinking, underage or premarital sex, being present when someone engages in criminal activity, sneaking around, and more are all things you should discuss and be clear about. It doesn’t guarantee that your teen will never get into trouble, but it provides a foundation for them to come back to.
Date nights are important for couples, but their also important for parents and their kids. Just one morning, afternoon, or evening a month can be enough to help strengthen that bond. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can go out for ice cream or coffee, visit the library together, or even just swim in your backyard pool. If you don’t have a pool but you know your teen would love it, affordable swimming pool financing is available and the installation of a pool could get your teen even more excited about spending time with you. The point is to spend one-on-one time with your teen, doing something that allows you the opportunity to talk, laugh, and simply enjoy each other’s company.
Teens today are online a lot, and that creates a different world than the one we grew up in. They deal with harassment and bullying, and have a world of information about anything from historical events to sex at their fingertips. Between computers, tablets, and cellphones, they’re always able to be connected. As a parent, it’s important to stay involved. Monitoring your teen‘s internet can be a good idea, but you should be open and honest about it. Be clear with your child that you intend to monitor their usage, and do that monitoring in their presence so that if you find something that needs to be discussed, she won’t feel ambushed or betrayed.
Making dinner, cleaning the house, working on a car, or an issue with a device – whatever is happening at the moment, ask your teen to help you. This makes them feel respected and valued, and shows them you trust their judgment and skills. It also shows your teen that it’s okay to ask for help.
At a time when life can feel out of control, confusing, and just plain crazy, being able to rely on a solid relationship with parents is critical. Taking a few steps to keep the bond strong reminds your teen that you’re there.
by: Dennis Hung