4 Wise Ways to Stay Connected with Your Teen
By Sandy Schroeder
In a busy society with more demands than time, many parents struggle just to keep everything together at home and work, which can be especially crucial during the teen years.
ChildDevelopmentInfo sums it up: “Few parenting challenges are quite as terrifying as handling a teenager.”
If you have a teen in the house, you may heartily agree. As a friend of mine observed, “They are different every morning.” My friend was a very wise lady, and she accepted each new phase of moodiness, rebellion, or remoteness with calmness and a sense of humor to weather the storms.
Dr Bob Myers, licensed child and adolescent psychologist, says, “The key to successfully tackling this phase is to take a deep breath, relax, and remember that teens are not monsters. They’re just kids going through a lot of physical, emotional, and social changes -- all at the same time.”
Here are some tips to stay connected.
Make the effort to be there – Taking time out from a busy schedule to catch a movie, stop for ice cream or watch a game lets your teen know you are there for them. It also provides a good time to check in to see what is going on. There will always be more work and more meetings, but the teenage years go by in a flash. Being there counts.
Keep talking – Wherever you are, over breakfast, in the car, or at dinner, make a point of having casual conversation with your teen every day. Keep it open and relaxed, and never make it a tension-filled session of questions and reminders. If you do, you may lose the chance to hear what your child is really thinking or find out what is really going on.
Just listen – If you talk casually, be sure to listen. No matter how much you are tempted to react or jump in with comments, let your teen unload. Stay calm and keep an open mind to whatever comes up. If your teen feels they can talk to you, you may find out more than you really wanted to know. Avoid jumping in with quick reactions that may cause your teen to simply shut down. Keeping the line of communication open is invaluable.
Be the parent and make the rules – Sometimes in an effort to stay connected, parents try to be buddies, but what teens really want and need (but will never tell you) is parents who love them and make the effort to be there whatever happens. Rules are in place, and consequences happen, but parents who care, stay involved in their kids' lives, support their interests and get to know their friends. Listen a lot, laugh whenever you can, and just enjoy being there, collecting a lot of wonderful memories.
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