Change is part of teenage life. The lack of communication that often ensues between parent and an adolescent can cause frustrations and lead to a rift or disconnect. Studies have shown the positive benefits for teens when parents stay connected with them, but how can overextended and busy parents keep an on-going relationship with their tween or teen?
The following are a few tips to assist in connecting:
- Un-Interrupted Quality Time: As parents, we should have time where we can talk to our preteens or teens without interruption and outside distraction. These much desired but sometime elusive “quality times” are necessary for growth and help lay the foundation for healthy relationships with your children.
- Create Your Un-Interrupted Quality Time: Every family is different, so each family should create their own unique quality family time. First, set a “Family Time” schedule. For example, every second Friday of the month can be game night, and your family could order pizza for dinner and play your favorite board games together. Something as simple as eating around the dinner table together as a family most nights will help to encourage conversation. When families eat dinner together, they are connected and invested with each other. Second, don’t miss your appointment with your family. Showing up and participating for family night can portray to teens the message that “This family is important and so are you.”
- Create a “Parent & Me Day” With Your Teen: A great way to converse with your teen and connect with their life is by having a parent and me day. Having a time when as a parent you can enjoy a meal, see a movie, walk in the park, go to a bookstore or go shopping with your preteen or teen is very important. This time allows your preteen or teen to have your undivided attention, feel free to discuss any issues or problems they may be having in private. A lot of important topics i.e. sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc. can come up during this time.
- Be Involved: Teens have the capability to be “in the know” of the latest fashion trend, music and technology. Show some support in what your teen likes. You want to show your teen that you want to be involved with the things they like.
- Try To Stay Current: If you have tweens or teens in your home, names like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift or Walking Dead should have some space already in your mental memory bank. When your teen watches the newest hit show, sit down and watch it with them. It can lead to great conversations about what they listen to and watch.
- Online Resources: Some helpful online parenting resources include: Focus on The Family Teen Section, tips and resources for parenting & families; Raising a Modern-Day Knight, website to help fathers raise their sons; Momster.com, website solely dedicated for moms of tweens/teens; Parenting Teens on About.com,online guide to raising teens from parenting author; and Rosalind Wiseman, parenting and family expert.
How do you work on connecting with your teenager?