Your child is now a teenager and that sweet person has become a moody, challenging human being taking up space in your home. You long for the sweet child from years ago or just last year. The relationship between you and your child when they are young is a strong one placing the parent in a management role. You managed their activities, food, clothes, choices, and basically everything. When you become a parent to a teenager, your parental role has to change to a supportive, guiding one. Adolescents start to make their own choices and decisions while still being cared for by you so you can help guide them. You do not manage their choices but rather listen and guide them.
Here are a few hints to help you navigate the relationship between yourself and your teenager to make it easier.
1. Respect your teenagers privacy. Bedroom doors close for privacy. Privacy is an important part of growing up and becoming independent from one’s parents. Teenagers want more alone time because they need time to process all of their emotions they have had to hold in and process throughout the day. Find a way to let your teenager know that you are available to talk if there is anything s/he wants or needs to talk about anytime.
2. Trust your teenager by giving him/her the space to make decisions. Many of those decisions will be wrong but s/he will be making the decisions him/herself and learn from the consequences. Talk over the decisions without making the choices for your teenager. This helps your teenager to make decisions later in life. This is absolutely the most difficult part of parenting a teenager but the trust (within reason) allows your teenager to become his/her own person. If your teenager is in danger from a wrong decision, then you should intervene.
3. Remember that you were once a teenager and this might help you put things into perspective. Teenagers do some ridiculous things on their journey from childhood to adulthood as they figure out who they are.
4. Ask open ended questions and actively listen for the answers. Teenagers want to talk to their parents but feel like they will be judged for what they will share. Conversations happen more easily if you are driving so you do not stare at them. Let your teenager talk for as long as they want to or not talk at all.
5. Try to plan some quality time by planning some time limited special time for you and your teenager. This might take some creativity and some compromising on everyone’s part but it will help to continue the expectation that everyone is part of the family.
6. Teach your teenager how to build healthy, meaningful relationships by having a healthy meaningful relationship with him/her. Give your teenager your undivided attention when they are speaking to you. Treat them the way that you want to be treated and the way you want them to treat other people. If mistakes happen and someone’s behavior is less than perfect. Talk to them about it. If it is your behavior, take responsibility for it.
7. Quality time doesn’t have to be planned or filled with meaningful conversation. Sometimes it happens when you are just both in the same room, sitting quietly together watching a movie or a Netflix show. Sitting on the couch with them is enough. Teenagers appreciate you just being there and not trying to force conversation.
8. Listening is one of the most important skills for parenting teenagers. There will be times when your teenager just wants you to listen – not ask questions, answers, or solutions. You can communicate you are listening without interrupting and/or talking. If you react directly or too harshly, your teenager might not share as quickly again. Sit back and listen.
9. Patience is key. Know that your teenager will become an adult and trusting this process of giving them space to make their own decisions will help them in the long run. Always remember you were once a teenager and you made it. There might be a few differences between when you were a teenager and now but your teenager wants your guidance and support. S/he doesn’t want you to manage him/her.
10. As hard as it may be at times, don’t take your teen’s behavior personally. Look for ways to stay close without invading their space and being overbearing. This time is confusing and hard for them as it is for you. Find ways to let them know you are still there. Also find a support network for yourself.
Hope these hints help you to improve your relationship. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me directly either by phone at 747-998-2148 or confidential email at firstname.lastname@example.org.