Connect With Your Teens
Most parents don’t have many things in common with their teens. Sometimes, you may feel like there’s just no way to connect with your teen. Not only are you and your teen separated by a gap of years and maturity, but when teens are going through their self-identifying phase, their interests can change as quickly as the weather. They’re trying to figure out what they’re passionate about and where they fit in, and when you, as a parent, try to relate to them, it can feel like trying to hit a moving target. What makes the issue even more pressing is that you need to connect with your teen to help them effectively get through these challenging teenage years.
5 Ways to Connect and Get Involved With Your Teen’s Interests
- Don’t force YOUR interests on them. A lot of parents get hung up on this one. Maybe football is your primary interest and has been for a very long time, but your daughter doesn’t seem to care about it at all. The more you force your son or daughter to participate and enjoy what you are passionate about, the less likely they will share your enthusiasm. A common element of the teenage years is their tendency to exert their independence by actively rejecting their parent’s identities.
- Let them choose. Let your teenager make some choices, whether it’s the Friday night family movie or just where the family goes to eat. By allowing this, you show them that you respect their independence and appreciate that they have their interests and freedom to express them.
- Talk to them about their body. There’s no easy way to do this; it’s awkward for everyone. Most parents’ mistakes here are that they avoid the discussion because it’s easier that way. However, facts are facts, and it is simply a truth about the teenage years that one of your daughter’s primary interests is their own body. As a parent, you can either ignore this or face it head-on. Create a space where your teen feels comfortable talking to you about their body. Use this space to encourage beneficial interests, including exercise, a healthy diet, and a rational approach to beauty products, clothing, and sex.
- Listen. Even when teens aren’t directly talking to you, they communicate much. This doesn’t mean eavesdropping on them or tapping their phones. Most of the time, genuinely listening to them and trying to understand what they’re saying is sufficient. Sometimes teen girls will try to communicate indirectly, hinting at things or mentioning them repeatedly in hopes that someone will talk to them about them. Be the parent who picks up on these cues and opens the dialogue.
- Learn from them. If you can handle the teasing or eye-rolling, asking your daughter to teach you things can be a powerful tool in bringing the two of you closer. Ask them to teach you how to use that new phone app you’ve been struggling with. Ask them to show you the latest game they’re playing with their friends. Pick up a book in that series your teenager always has their nose buried in. Whatever their interest is, showing humility as a parent, to ask them to teach you something shows a profound respect for your teenager and goes a long way towards earning their respect.
Your Teen WANTS to Connect With You
No matter what’s going on, your teen WANTS to connect with you. Take these opportunities to communicate with them and show them that you care about the things they do. This is a critical time for your teen and your family, and the more you can work as a unit to get through these years, the better the long-term outcome will be for everyone.