The teenage years are hard. Hard for the kids and definitely hard for the parents. Where once stood your little toothless child now stands an almost-adult who at times seems to live in some sort of alternate universe.
It hurts when your teen seems to want to spend all her time alone in her room or when he acts like he wants nothing to do with you.
Here are some practical and easy ways that I have found to connect with my teen.
1. Be Available
You can’t expect your teen to connect with you if you don’t ever make time for him. If your life is so busy that you don’t have time to be at home and just spend time with your teen, you are too busy. Dump something unimportant and be there.
Don’t assume that just because your teen is spending all her time in her room it means that she doesn’t want to spend time with you. Invite her to come out and do something with you. Tell her that you want to spend time with her.
When she does come to you to talk about something, learn to listen with open ears and a shut mouth. Ask before giving advice. Give respect, not nagging.
2. Be Present
You can’t be angry at your teen for not paying attention to you when every time you are together you are constantly on the phone or texting or checking Facebook. PUT IT DOWN and be present with your teen.
3. Ask your Teen to Teach You Something
What is your teen really good at? Find something that you find interesting and ask them to teach you how to do it. If they are constantly posting pictures on Instagram, ask them to show you how it works. If they love soccer, ask them to teach you something about the game. If they are a talented musician, ask them to show you how to do something related to their instrument. Let them be your teacher and be serious in your attempt to learn.
4. Listen to Their Music
Okay. I know I sound crazy now. But music is a window into the soul of your teen. Ask him who his favorite artists are and listen to them. Try to find a song that you can tolerate…or maybe even enjoy. Tell your teen about the song that you like and why you like it. Listen to it together.
5. Surprise Them
I am not talking about surprising them with expensive gifts. I am talking about bringing them food from their favorite restaurant for lunch at school. They may not want you to stay and eat with them and that is okay. Just surprise them by dropping it off in the front office.
Put a note in his car that he is sure to find that reminds him how special he is to you. Take them on a date to the movies and watch what they want to see. Anything that reminds them that they are loved and precious to you is a good surprise.
Parenting the teen years is hard work. We, as parents, have to learn to respect our children as the almost-adults that they are, but also still give them the love and nurturing that they need and desire.