Four Ways to Connect to Your Teen
As the lives of our growing teens become more demanding and involved, they move further away from the family routine of their childhood. Being excited about mom’s help in school, play dates and the general support that parents provide to young children fade as they progress through their teen years and become more dependent on friends and others outside of the family circle.
Many parents struggle with this time as it means trying to find new ways to connect. Some parents take the ‘let’s be buddies’ route. Hanging out as one of the group, knowing all the hit songs, TV shows and what’s cool gives parents a feeling they are still involved…even if its not really what our teens would always prefer.
However, there are simple and magical ways we can still connect to our teens and keep that strong connection all through their later teen and early adult years.
1. Food. No question this is the favorite topic of most teens. Not necessarily traditional family dinners, but rather standing around the fridge at midnight. A late night pizza or a bowl of ice cream can become a parent’s strongest ally.
2. Travel and fun. The budget of most teens is a bit limited. So when they are informed of a family ski trip, a visit to Disneyland or other destinations that allow them to engage in their favorite sport or activity, most teens jump at the chance.
3. Movies. Many teens are easily enticed to participate in family movie night if the movie and the hours meet with their approval. You may have to begin the movie at 10:00 at night. You lost plenty of sleep when they were two year olds. It’s not any less important at 15. A midnight showing of Twilight will reap far more benefits than the cost of losing a little sleep.
4. Hobbies. As kids age their hobbies become more streamlined. They tend to focus on fewer activities and ones they truly love. They are generally more interested in something specific like one sport, theater or dance. When a parent truly supports that endeavor on a more global scale it can be a tremendous bonding tool for years to come.
Teens will inevitably draw a line in the sand parents aren’t allowed to cross. They will clearly state what is acceptable to them. As parents we need to honor that, giving them the respect they deserve as individuals. However, we also need to show them we still care a great deal about what is important to them. That may be an activity or event, but it may be to just take the time to show interest and to give them support while they pursue their dreams….in our homes, our towns or the world at large.