New parents know that they are in for a lot of work and it is easy to stay close to our kids when they are little because they need us for everything. But as they grow into independent teenagers who are more self-sufficient, it can be easy to let that close relationship start to slide. The more independent they get, the less we feel like they need us and that can spell trouble for families that are already struggling under the stresses and demands of modern life. It can be too easy for parents with stressful jobs and not enough time in their day to leave their teens to fend for themselves.
But the truth is that our teenagers need more of our time, not less. They need our guidance, our advice, our understanding, and most importantly, our time and attention. When we don’t make the time and devote the energy to maintaining the connection we had with them when they were small, our relationship with them becomes strained, our interactions get tense, and they seek out others to provide the support and understanding that they need from us. This is why it is so important to build and maintain a strong relationship with your teenager.
Commit to staying connected and use these tips for building a strong, supportive relationship with your teen.
One of the best things you can do to build a strong, lasting relationship with your teenager is to spend time with only them, focusing on them, at least once a week. This can mean going to an event together, taking a hike, or sharing a meal. What you do together doesn’t matter as much as making the time and then spending it with them. This sends the message that they are as important to you as the other things you dedicate time to like your job, your marriage, your friends, and your hobbies. Use this time to get to know your teen a little better and to let them get to know you in a new way.
Another great way to connect with your teen and to build the kind of relationship that will support and sustain them is to get involved in something like a hobby or a club or a cause that you both find interesting. When you can share meaningful experiences with each other and participate together in something you both love, you create the kind of bond that will encourage and empower them to test their wings because they know you are behind them cheering them on and ready to give them a boost if they falter.
Share the Real You
Parents often believe that in order to be a strong role model for their children they have appear to be infallible. This may be true at certain points in their lives like when they need absolute faith in your ability to vanquish the monster hiding under the bed. But as they become teenagers and begin figuring out who they are and who they want to be, infallible parents can seem distant, demanding, demeaning, and fake. At this point, they need to see that even parents as strong and successful as you have made the wrong choice, done senseless things, and had imperfect moments because it teaches them that you can do all those things and still be strong and successful.