How to Be a Dad

Type in “how to be a dad” into Google and you will see more than 61 million results! With today’s technology, many fathers are turning to the web to find guidance, advice, or sharing their own struggles with parenthood.

How to be a Dad

Today’s fathers are different than previous generations. One of those key differences is that today’s fathers are much more involved in parenting than previous generations. Additionally, they have a more open relationship with their children and are more likely to seek advice from multiple sources.

One of the most popular YouTube channels is “How to Dad”. After a quick Facebook video showing one of his buddies how to hold a baby quickly went viral, the creator, Jordan Watson, started the channel. “How to Dad” has grown to an audience of nearly 2 million viewers. Jordan is now trying his hand at a more traditional route of reaching out to dads and is writing a book about “how to dad” as well.

There are also organizations that can be found online that support fathers such as the nonprofit “Organization for Dads” that is dedicated to encouraging and supporting fathers, children, and families through a variety of workshops, lectures, activities, and events.

Along with the struggles of being a parent comes the humor. Sometimes reading a playful blog will help a new parent see they are not alone in the craziness that is being a new father. A popular blog is “HowToBeADad” which introduces their website with “If you were looking for a website telling you how to be a dad… You didn’t find it. We aren’t experts in “dadology.” We aren’t even sure such a thing exists. We’re just here to tell you that being a parent sometimes means experiencing things without an authority, letting love and humor get you through.”

Some of the more helpful websites include:

www.focusonthefamily.com
www.daddyblogger.com
www.dadtired.com
www.allprodad.com
www.legacydad.com

If cracking a book is more your style, here is some suggested reading:

  • Dad Time: Savoring the God-Given Moments of Fatherhood, by Max Lucado
  • 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, Jay Payleitner
  • Dads and Sons, James Dobson
  • Grace Based Parenting, Tim Kimmel
  • The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Gary Chapman

Whether it’s surfing the web, watching videos, or reading a guide book, today’s fathers are ready to invest their time into becoming a great dad, which benefits us all.

While websites and blogs can be helpful, some children might need more hands-on guidance.

If you are a dad in the Phoenix area and have a have a middle schooler or high schooler that is struggling with issues such as social anxiety, ADD/ADHD, not having friends, or anger issues, there is help.  Check out our resource page, or contact one of our confidential, caring teen counselors.  We always offer a free consultation to dads (and moms) who need help with a troubled teen.  Just give us a call at 602-997-2880 today.

Mental Health Danger Signs in Teens

Doorways Arizona Blog: Mental Health Danger Signs in TeensAs teens are developing, they go through a series of changes physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually. For a lot of teens, these changes can be overwhelming. According to Healthy Children, this is a critical time and these pressures can lead to mental health issues presenting themselves. As a parent, it is important for you to know what to look for so that you can determine if your teen is just experiencing “normal” teenage behavior or is beginning to suffer from mental health issues.

During this time, observe your teen’s behavior and determine what is normal and what is not. Here are some “red flags” to look for:

  • Personality changes that are out of character.
  • Loss of self-esteem.
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities.
  • Excessive sleeping or not sleeping.
  • Not wanting to go to school.
  • Sudden decline in grades.
  • Loss or gain of appetite and sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Secretive behavior
  • Not hanging out with old friends, dropping old friends and getting new friends very suddenly.
  • Anxiety, anger, or sadness.

If your teen is exhibiting some of these symptoms, here are a few suggestions to help them:

  1. Take your teen shopping or to the movies or out to eat, whatever they like, and just spend time with them, being open to conversation.  Believe it or not, our teens need us just as much in their teen years as they did when they were little.
  2. You could tell your teen that you’ve noticed they aren’t acting like themselves lately and try to get them to talk to you. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. Don’t let their rejection get you down.
  3. Listen without judging. This can be the hardest thing for a parent to do. But we all need a safe place to vent our feelings and frustrations.
  4. Seek professional help. If you’re not able to break through to your teen, seek the help of an experienced therapist who specializes in working with teens.  At Doorways, we always offer a free consultation to parents who are looking for help for their troubled teen.

Being the parent of a teen with normal teen challenges is not easy. But if you’re experiencing extreme challenges with your teen it can be heart breaking.  It doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a parent. The fact that you are researching how to help your teen shows that you are a caring and loving parent.

At Doorways, our compassionate counselors treat teens with respect and caring. We listen without judging and we provide confidential help for teens and families going through crisis.

If something is going on, take that first step and give us a call today.  We have helped hundreds of families get their hope back and we would be honored to help you!

 

“My Teen Has No Friends”

Friendships are an important part of the teen years. They help teens develop into adulthood by learning invaluable emotional and social skills. According to the Raising Children Network, having a group of good friends can help build confidence, security and provide a support system for teens. Do you find that your teen has no friends? The damage that can be done by being unpopular at school can have lifelong consequences for one’s self-esteem. As a parent, there are ways that you can help your teen develop and maintain friendships.

Doorways Arizona Blog: "My Teen Has No Friends"

Talk to Your Teen

According to Healthy Children, the first thing to do is simply talk to your teen. Find out if the time they are spending alone is making them unhappy. Explain that others likely feel the same way. Also, provide an example of yourself being uneasy in a social situation as an adult or when you were a teen to show that you understand. Find out what is making it difficult for them to make friends. There are several reasons including low self-esteem, lack of social skills, or maybe they just don’t have the right opportunity to make friends.

However, if your teen doesn’t open up because they may be embarrassed, don’t give up. There are several ways that you can help. You can talk to others in your teens life like teachers or coaches for their observations of your teen’s behavior. You could do some role-play scenarios with your teen to show what actions are socially acceptable. Help your teen learn to talk to new people. Help build their self-esteem with positive encouragement.

Help Your Teen with Friendship Building Skills

Additionally, Raising Children Network suggests you can help your teen with their friendship skills by having a good relationship with them by being supportive, actively listening, and being connected. Also, be a good role model so they can see what positive friendship looks like.

Other ways to help your teen are to plan activities for them and a new friend that are pressure free, as opposed to just “hanging out.” That type of situation can be stressful. Examples of some pressure-free activities might be:

  • spectator sports
  • watching a movie
  • visiting a museum

That way your teen doesn’t feel the need to engage in constant conversation. Also, plan for the activity to be shorter rather than longer so your teen can build up to spending more time with new friends.

Encourage Your Teen to Participate in Activities They Are Good at and Enjoy

Help your teen think about what interests them and what they are good at. Encourage them to participate in an extracurricular activity, volunteer work or part-time job. This way they can meet people with common interests and provide a spring board for conversation. This is a great way for them to practice social skills.

If your teen is reluctant to try an extracurricular activity, maybe they just need a little push by you to help get them involved. Find out what interests them. It doesn’t have to be just sports. STEM classes have become really popular. Local libraries are even offering classes in coding.  Maybe they have an interest in dance or drama? Science or building? There are a variety of activities out there not just available at school, but in the community. Check with your local parks and recreation office, local library, local museums, and even local colleges and universities to find out their offerings. You are sure to find an activity that interests your teen.

If your teen is active and interested in fitness and sports, but maybe not competitively, check with local parks and recreation, local gyms, or the local YMCA for offerings.

Additionally, check with local churches for youth groups. A popular one is Young Life. Also, encourage your teen to explore clubs at school. Maybe they are interested in computers, chess, photography, helping with school events, or social issues. There are so many different options to help your teen explore and meet new people.

Still Having Trouble Getting Your Teen to Make New Friends?

Maybe there are some deeper rooted reasons behind it. Have you discussed with your teen what is making them apprehensive? Reasons why might be:

  • bullying
  • social anxiety
  • insecurity
  • unrealistic expectations
  • antisocial behavior

Remember that making new friends can be challenging, so don’t make it a constant topic of conversation with your teen. Continue to be encouraging. If your teen is isolating themselves, this is not healthy, it can lead to a negative self-esteem, feelings of loneliness and depression, and a fear of people. If you find that your teen is still struggling socially or is refusing to make friends, consider seeking the help of a professional who specializes in helping teens with social skills.

4 Commonly Unspoken Things Teens Need from Their Parents

4 Commonly Unspoken Things Teens Need from Their ParentsParenting during the teenage years can easily place strain on your relationship with your teen, your spouse, and yourself. At times it can be very frustrating trying to connect closely with your busy teen, and determine with certainty what they need from you in order to grow and thrive. Teenagers go through some intense hormonal and emotional changes during adolescent development, and it may become more difficult for them to communicate, or even identify what they need from their parents.

According to the faith-based parenting blog, For Every Mom, here are four of the most important things that your teen needs from you as a parent, whether or not they express these needs effectively, or at all.
  1. A steadfast example of how to truly live out important values and morals

Despite their actions of budding independence, your teen needs you to model successful adulthood for them. As a parent, it is incredibly important that you use your own life and experiences to openly showcase all the values, morals, and guiding principles you are striving to teach your teen.  This does not mean that you must live in perfection, but your teen needs to see real-life examples of the things you say and teach them.

  1. An abundance of encouragement

Teenagers are going to assert their independence as they flourish, but they will also inevitably fail, falter, or make the wrong decisions at times. Your role as a parent is to help guide your teen, and prepare them for everything adulthood has in store, both good and bad. For this reason, it is important to focus on providing your teen an abundance of encouragement, whether they’ve done something well, are learning something new, or have failed at something. Teens also need corrections to their behavior during times that they’ve broken rules or placed themselves in negative, unhealthy, or dangerous situations. However, it is valuable for teens to feel supported, loved, and encouraged across all facets of your parenting.

  1. A willingness to talk openly about difficult or confusing subjects without judgement

As a parent, you are equipped with a natural instinct to protect your teen against harm, hurt, or pain. However, while you can endeavor to shield and protect your teen, they may already have at least second hand exposure to situations in their life they should avoid to stay safe and healthy. This is why it is important to talk to your teens about topics such as alcohol, drugs, and sex. While it may be uncomfortable for both you and your teen, it will ultimately help them make better choices in their life if they understand the risks and consequences with clarity and know your thoughts and expectations of them as well.

Teens are under a tremendous amount of pressure, and many struggle with depression as a result. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, a 2014 study revealed that 11.4 percent of teens have experienced at least one major depressive episode. Knowing they can talk with you about harder subjects can safeguard your teen against mental health issues and keep them emotionally strong as well.

  1. Clearly outlined boundaries that are enforced with consistency

Even though they may object through outbursts or rebellion, teens need a strong sense of their boundaries and what is expected of them. It is important for you to create guiding principles and rules that will help positively shape your teen’s life, and always enforce them with consistency.  According to Focus on the Family, teens not only need, but want healthy boundaries to help guide them. Boundaries also help show teens that the adults they respect care deeply for their health and well-being, which is the type of relationship teens need and desire with their parents.

If you are struggling to connect with your teenager, and fear their mental, emotional, or physical health may be at risk, then speaking with a professional teen counselor can be very beneficial to your teenager and your family.

 

Parenting Throughout the Teenage Years: 5 Tips for Being the Strong, Loving Leader to Your Teen

Parenting Throughout the Teenage Years: 5 Tips for Being the Strong, Loving Leader to Your TeenWhile it is extremely rewarding, parenting is a difficult and lifelong endeavor. When your child transforms into a teenager, parenting can become even more challenging as you work to love, lead, and shape your teen in preparation for their life as a successful, happy, independent adult.

Here are five tips from the Mayo Clinic to help you remain a strong, loving leader in your home as you guide your teen through their adolescent years:

Demonstrate your love openly and unconditionally.

Teens need quality attention from their parents, and always knowing they are loved will help them develop strong mental and emotional health as they mature.

Focus on the Family suggests viewing your teen’s hormonal changes and emotional growth in terms of seasons, and encourages unconditional love no matter the season of change your teen is experiencing. Loving your teen consistently despite what they are going through or how they are behaving will show them they are valued and loved. It will also give them a strong foundation for learning how to love others unconditionally as well.

Encourage positive self-expression without pressure.

Teens are faced with many pressures in their lives, ranging from school to social. At home, you should focus on encouraging your teen to express themselves and enjoy doing the things that make them happy and build them up academically, physically, or emotionally. While it can be tempting to compare your teen to yourself at their age, try to avoid making comparisons that will make them feel pressured to assume an identity that does not align with the unique person they already are and will be in the future.

However, if your teen is expressing an interest in harmful expressions, that is when you should be a firm leader. Communicate risks or dangers and also enforce your family values, beliefs, and rules.

Teach online identity and social media safety.

Teens do a large portion of their communications digitally through social media, texting, gaming, and apps. As a parent, you set the rules and are responsible for teaching your teen how to enjoy using these communication mediums, while remaining safe. Make sure to protect your teen with tactical rules, such as:

  • Never share personal information online.
  • Do not share or give others your passwords.
  • Never meet in person with people you only know online.
  • Do not use texting or social media to gossip, shame, or bully others.
  • Never text or chat while driving a car.

Sharing openly about the dangers that exist online will help you create safe boundaries for your teen’s online interactions. Let your teen know that they can always come to you, and should, if any online or text interaction or conversation has made them feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way.

Create rules and limitations, and enforce them with consistency.

As your teen grows and discovers more about the thriving adult they want to be, they’ll need to know their boundaries to stay safe. Parents should work together to create rules, explain limitations, and always enforce them consistently.

Be a positive leader and role model your teen can reference to shape themselves.

Teens are constantly looking for traits and accomplishments that they admire in others to help shape themselves. As a parent, you have the opportunity to demonstrate how you want your teen to flourish by living a life that they can use as a reference for successful adulthood.

Parenting teenagers can be a difficult job. If you are struggling to connect with your teen or suspect they might be struggling emotionally or mentally, then talking with a professional teen counselor can be very beneficial for both you and your teen.

The Benefits of Being a Stay-at-Home Parent Through the Teenage Years

It is a common practice around the world for one or both parents to stay home and care for their children in the early months and years of life. Both mothers and fathers are typically offered some time away from their work to welcome their child and adjust to a new family dynamic.

While it is not financially feasible for many families to include a stay-at-home parent outside of maternity or paternity leaves, the number of mothers who decide to stay home has been increasing. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 29 percent of mothers in America in 2012 did not currently work outside the home, and stayed home to care for their families. Eventually, as children grow and begin attending school during the day, many mothers and fathers who stayed home previously return to work to help support their families.

Parents play a large and important role in their children’s lives that begins at birth and lasts a lifetime. Parental care, love, and nurturing are important to healthy development in all life phases, including infants, children, teens, and adults. To different degrees and levels, every country in the world recognizes the importance of parents being home to nurture and guide young children.

However, recent research done by the Graduate School of Stanford Business suggests that the benefits of having a parent at home exist for teenagers as well.

The Benefits of Being a Stay-at-Home Parent Through the Teenage Years

Here are some of the great benefits that teenagers with at least one stay-at-home parent experience:

 

Increased Parental Attention, Guidance, and Involvement

A teen who has a parent at home will likely experience more dedicated attention, more often. This is simply due to proximity and opportunity. A stay-at-home parent is more likely to be around in the moments that their teen wants to talk or decides to open up and share. It can be difficult to relate to teens and bond with them on their terms and timelines as they mature. A parent who stays home has the opportunity to be around when their teen goes to school, comes home from school, and has friends over to socialize or study.

Constant Parental Presence Balanced with Independence

Knowing that they have a parent around at home constantly can help teens feel a sense of support and stability. As a parent, it also provides the opportunity to witness how your teen is maturing, who they are spending time with, and be available and present whenever needed. It is important that parental presence be balanced with independence for your teen though. They should know that you are always there for them, but also have the freedom to exercise their independence and make their own decisions and choices based on the family morals and values they’ve been taught.

Better Academic Performance

According to research published by Stanford, a parenting study in Norway revealed that adolescents with a stay-at-home parent were more likely to achieve better grades and academic success. The study was done in conjunction with Norway’s Cash for Care subsidy program incentivizing and paying parents to stay home with their children under the age of three. The research was centered on the development of older siblings, who also benefited from having a parent at home to care for them. It was revealed that the teens whose parents stayed home to take care of them and their younger siblings did significantly better in school as a result.

While there is a growing body of research demonstrating that children and teens benefit from a parent who stays home, due to financial obligations or personal preference, not all parents have the option to stay home as their children grow up. Parents who work outside the home are definitely capable of being involved, loving parents by dedicating time and balancing family and career. If you are struggling to bond with your teen or feel they are becoming distant, speaking with a teen counselor can be beneficial to finding that balance in your life and relationship with your teen.

5 Tips for Raising Mentally and Emotionally Strong Teenagers

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is a designated time to focus on the important topic of mental and emotional health and well-being for ourselves and our families. Mental health awareness is becoming increasingly important in teenagers, who are under more pressures than ever in a fast-paced, competitive, and success-driven society.

In fact, according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 20 percent of teens ages 13 to 18 have mental illness, which has quadrupled since 1950.

While important attention and focus are placed on mental health this month, parenting is a lifelong learning and growing process for both parents and teens.

5 Tips for Raising Mentally and Emotionally Strong Teenagers

Here are five tips to help you raise mentally and emotionally strong teenagers every month of every year:

Teach Positive, Specific Decision-Making Skills

When your teen misbehaves, it is a great opportunity for you to begin building the foundation of the decision-making skills they’ll use into and throughout adulthood. Reframe discipline into teaching moments and demonstrate to your child how they can exercise impulse control, self-discipline, and problem solving skills when they’re faced with challenges and temptations in the future.

Transform Mistakes into Learning Opportunities

As a parent, it is likely very difficult for you to willingly let your child make mistakes in their lives, but it’s a vital part of their learning how to deal with difficult emotions associated with failure. By accepting mistakes, and teaching your child they are a part of the learning journey, they will feel more confident and empowered to make decisions and try new things.

Focus on Morals, Character, and Gratitude

When your teen is acting out or struggling with difficult situations that arise, make it a consistent practice to always bring your guidance back to a core of good morals, character, and values. This type of leadership will give your child a sense of where they come from and what they believe in. Having this foundation enables them to rely on it as they make their own decisions in the future.

Additionally, encouraging your teen to refocus themselves using gratitude will help them learn to be thankful and think optimistically even in difficult times.

Limit Arrogance, and Promote High Self-Esteem

In her book The Price of Privilege, psychologist, educator, and author Madeline Levine explores the pressures of contemporary society on teenagers, and asserts that intelligent children of affluent families are the most at risk to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

This emerging trend is attributed to an imbalance between arrogance and self-esteem in many teens. Namely, teenagers can be prone to having a higher amount of arrogance while actually suffering from lower self-esteem. Demonstrating and explaining the differences between these feelings, and helping your teen understand that they can feel good about themselves and be proud of their accomplishments without being cocky or arrogant will help them develop mental and emotional strength.

 

Ensure Your Own Mental Strength, and Model It

In order to be there and provide your teen with strong support, love and guidance, you need to ensure that you are taking care of your own mental health. Children will pattern their behavior after their parents and other adults they look up to and respect, so be a great role model and live out the lessons you’re imparting onto them in your own life.

If your teenager is consistently struggling with mental or emotional strength or health, and you’re not seeing any changes, improvement, or results from your efforts to love and guide them through their difficulties, then it may benefit your child to speak with a therapist or mental health professional.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Reinforce Strong Family Values While Co-Parenting Your Teenager

A divorce is not something that couples ever plan will happen to them as they begin their life together and start a family. However, in America, the average divorce rate ranges from 40-50 percent, according to the American Psychological Association. This means that many families with teenagers are divided by divorce, and parents must learn how to successfully raise and parent their teens from separate households after their marriage dissolves.

5 Ways to Reinforce Strong Family Values While Co-Parenting Your Teenager

Teenagers who have a happy home life are much less likely to experience mental, emotional, or social issues. It is very important that a teen feels loved and supported at home and witnesses their parents experiencing a successful relationship, regardless of whether their parents are married or not. For this reason, it is imperative your co-parenting be done in a way that supports your teen and reinforces a strong sense of family, love, and values. In fact, according to research published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, successful co-parenting is beneficial to the emotional development and health of teens. Additionally, research has shown that it is not only an absence of conflict that makes co-parenting succeed, but also an increase in communication and collaboration from both parents.

Here are five ways you can successfully co-parent your teen, while upholding family support and values:

  1. Create goals, stick to them. Work together to support your teenager with respect, devotion, and intention.

Focus on the Family suggests that co-parents set aside their conflicts and differences, and work together to create goals centered on their teen. In many cases, working together with your ex might seem extremely disagreeable. However, remember that you are putting forth a united effort as parents, regardless of your personal relationship with one another. If you find you are struggling to agree, try setting up a monthly meeting that you conduct as adults in a professional manner. Treating the time together as work can help you reduce emotions, and get more accomplished together for the benefit of your teen.

  1. When you refer to your ex and co-parent, always speak of them positively and remind your teen of their great traits and accomplishments.

According to information published in the Huffington Post, one of the markers of success in a co-parenting relationship is to always ensure that you speak positively about your ex when you speak to your teen. You should think about the qualities that make them special, and always celebrate successes and accomplishments. A teen who witnesses such support and positivity will have a stronger basis for managing their own conflicts and relationships in the future as well.

  1. Make sure your teen has everything they need in both homes, and never ask them to report or tattle on your ex and co-parent.

A divided household can be very difficult for a teen, particularly if they don’t have the things they need in one home or the other. This can cause your teen to feel uncomfortable and cause them to favor one home over the other. As your teen goes back and forth between homes, it is also very important that you don’t give them any unnecessary emotional baggage or responsibility to carry with them, such as asking them probing questions about their other parent’s personal life, or asking them to tattle.

  1. Keep your scheduled commitments, but show one another flexibility and collaboration if changes need to be made.

Do your very best to keep to all your scheduled commitments. This makes you a great co-parent, and also helps your teen develop a reliable schedule and have parents they know that they can count on.

  1. Take care of yourself and dedicate your growth toward being an amazing co-parent.

The end of a marriage can be very emotionally taxing for you, and in order to be the best co-parent you can for your teen, you need to make sure you take care of yourself. Be patient and loving toward yourself as you work through the hurt and heal.

If your teen is struggling emotionally due to a recent divorce, or you and your ex are having difficulty determining the best way to co-parent and support your teen, then speaking to a trained counselor who specializes in such situations can help you make sure that your teen is getting everything they need to thrive in a changing environment.

 

 

 

 

5 Ways You Can Help Your Teen Create a Positive Identity

Everything your teen learns and experiences during their adolescent years works to continually shape them as a person. During these formative years, teens try on different personalities, explore passions and hobbies, and observe all the other people in their lives. All of these things work together to build up your teen’s own unique, personal identity.

As a parent, you play the role of witness and guide to your teen’s growth, maturation, and identity formation. While identity is a personal journey your teen will navigate largely on their own, it is important to understand how you can support their growth, and help them build a strong, positive sense of self and identity.

5 Ways You Can Help Your Teen Create a Positive Identity

How do Teens Define Themselves?

Teen identity is the all-encompassing view a teen develops about who they are, and what motivates them, moves them, and defines them as a person. There are many factors that play a role in teen identity formation, but according to a survey done by Stages of Life, teens ranked “parents and family” and “hobbies and activities” as the top two things they use to define who they are. Other lower ranked factors that teens felt contributed to their identity were:

  • Church
  • School
  • Friends
  • Boyfriend/girlfriends

How to Help Your Teen Form a Strong, Positive Identity

According to Focus on the Family, these are 5 things that you can do to help guide your teen as they form their identity:

  1. Support your teen’s discoveries about themselves.

As your teen makes valuable self-discoveries, you can help them identify the positive things they are finding out about who they are, and who they want to be. Identity is something that evolves and continues to grow over a lifetime, so teaching your teen how to view themselves in a positive manner will benefit them throughout their life.

  1. Point out and praise your teen’s natural strengths and abilities.

Teens are influenced by their parent’s opinions, so it is important to acknowledge and praise all the natural strengths and abilities that you see developing in your teen. This will help your teen feel confident and boost their self-esteem, which both contribute to a strong, healthy identity.

  1. Work with your teen and family to come up with a motto that describes what your family stands for.

Teens will derive much of their identity from your family dynamic. Incorporate your teen into a guided family discussion about what your family believes, values, and stands for, and then create a meaningful family saying or motto that can become part of your family identity and your teen’s identity.

  1. Emphasize and encourage the things that make your teen special and unique.

Many teens will cast aside special aspects of themselves if they feel those things will set them apart or make them too different from their peers. Teach your teen that they are loved and special, and should embrace all the things that make them unique.

  1. Help your teen learn the importance of celebrating and protecting their identity.

Teens often experience identity struggles if they are teased or questioned by their friends or peers. Help your teen understand the importance of their values, beliefs, and themselves. Teach them that such valuable things should be celebrated and protected. Learning to protect the things that make up their identity will prepare your teen for a lifelong, positive self-image and sense of self and identity.

 

If your teen is consistently struggling with loving the person they are, or showing signs of being disinterested in themselves, family, or activities, then your teen may be suffering from stress, anxiety, or depression. Speaking with a teen counselor as a family can help you and your teen find ways to grow and support a happy, healthy life and a strong, positive identity.

 

10 Ways to Keep a Close, Connected Relationship with Your Teenager

As your teenager matures, it is quite natural for a bit of distance to grow between you. However, even if your teen does not verbalize it often, he/she does still need you and will benefit greatly from a close, connected relationship with you as his/her parent.

10 Ways to Keep a Close, Connected Relationship with Your Teenager

Here are 10 ways you can maintain a close connection with your teen, and continue growing your relationship through communication, love, and fun:

 

  1. Give your teen love freely and unconditionally, always.

No matter how they behave, always give your teen love freely and unconditionally. Teens look to their parents as role models of successful adults, and will learn how to love themselves and others through your example. Even though you may not know it based on teenage behavior sometimes, your teen is looking up to you as a hero in their life. According to a 2015 poll conducted on StageofLife.com, when teens were asked who best resembled an “unsung hero” in their life, the number one answer was “Parent.”

  1. Listen and offer to help troubleshoot problems without judgement.

One of the best ways to encourage and grow a close connection with your teen is to always listen to them when they talk to you and open up. Listen carefully and actively, but let them finish speaking before you offer suggestions, advice, or help with problems they are expressing.

  1. Let your teen have freedom and room to grow.

There is a delicate balance between being involved in your teen’s life, and becoming overbearing or smothering. Unless your teen is giving you signals otherwise, extend them trust, arm them with good virtues and firm guidelines, and then give them room to grow and experience life, even if it means they might make mistakes.

  1. Send your teen text messages

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of teens indicated that text messaging was the main medium they used to communicate daily with their close friends. While this does not mean you should not call your teen, it will help you connect with them in a whole new way if you embrace the way they like to communicate.

  1. Become friends or follow your teen on social media

Teens also do much of their communicating through social media, so by becoming friends or following them on online channels, you can get more insight into the person your teen is becoming and who is influencing them. Being aware of your teen’s online communications will also help you make sure they are interacting in safe, healthy ways.

  1. Talk openly with your teen about dating and sex.

Talking about dating and sex with your teen should not be awkward, uncomfortable, or shameful. Instead, communicate openly about the values of respect, love, and intimacy. You should also be very open about the prevalence of STDs and teen pregnancy, so you can help your teen make good choices and stay healthy and safe. Encourage your teen to talk about the pressures they might be feeling or experiencing, so you can help them navigate through those times as well.

  1. Support your teen’s hobbies and passions by showing up to special events or games.

Teens with involved parents do better at school and get higher grades, no matter their socioeconomic status, according to US News and World Report. Showing your teen that you care about what they love to do is much more impactful than telling them. Make sure that you adjust your schedule whenever possible, and attend their special events or games to show that you support them in their passions and hobbies.

  1. Give your teen a hug every single day.

Hugs provide comfort, decrease stress, and foster a sense of well-being. Give your teen a hug every day, and let them know you love them and care about them.

  1. Support healthy friendships, and include friends in your family life.

Friends are very important to teenagers, and by supporting your teen’s healthy and fun friendships you can become closer with your teen. Host a dinner or game night for your teen and his/her friends or let your teen bring their best friend on a family outing or activity. This helps you be involved and support friendship and fun in your teen’s life.

  1. Create rituals that foster time together and make it special and fun.

Connecting with your teen can be a lot of fun for you both through shared time, rituals, and activities together. Try some of these things with your teen, and make rituals out of your favorites:

  • Read the same book, and discuss it when you both finish reading.
  • Find a charity you both care about, and volunteer together.
  • Learn something new together, and let your teen pick the activity.
  • Ask your teen if you can join them in their favorite workout.
  • Watch a weekly TV show together.
  • Go on a hike, bike ride, or enjoy the outdoors together.

In order to remain connected with your teen as he or she grows and becomes increasingly independent, it is important for you to understand and implement these ways, and others you can think of, to keep a strong relationship intact with your teen.