Watching children grow up isn’t easy. They go from needing you all the time to the complete opposite. Parents are often left wondering when and where the change took place. What happens when children make the transition to being teenagers? They no longer look to their parents to fulfil their need for attention and affection; now it’s all about their friends.
This is nothing to be alarmed by. In fact, this phase of life is perfectly normal. This is the time when parents begin to feel like their teens no longer need them or want them to be a part of their lives. It's also the time that they need their parents the most. Here are 10 ways to be more involved in your teens' life!
All of a sudden, privacy is a big issue. Bedroom doors that were once always opened now remain shut. “Do Not Enter” signs appear out of nowhere and the phrase “leave me alone!” becomes all too common.
Privacy is a big part of growing up. The things that teens go through are bigger than the playground spats that they had when they were younger. A lot of times, the closed doors and attitudes have nothing to do with you. Give them space. Respect their desire for alone time. At the same time, find a way to let them know that if there’s anything you can do, you’re there.
9 Trust Them
One of the hardest parts of parenting is trusting the fact that you gave your child all of the things that they needed to make the right and best decisions.
There will be times when their judgment isn’t too good. Allow them to suffer the consequences of the decision that they made. This is not to say that if your child is in danger you should do nothing, of course. That would be irresponsible. Make room for mistakes without pointing the finger. The consequences of some bad decisions will be enough. It's a vital part of becoming an adult.
8 Don’t Forget
Most parents have a selective memory when their children become teenagers. They choose what to remember and what to forget, like the fact that they were once teenagers themselves. Remembering some of the ridiculous things you did as a teenager will help make the journey a lot easier.
Think about how you wanted to spend your time and what was important to you at their age. Looking at the bigger picture, you’ll realize that not much has changed and you’ll be better equipped to handle the situations that arise.
7 Actively Listen To Understand, Not Just To Respond
It's amazing what parents can learn by simply listening at certain times. Conversations are more likely to take place while driving in the car or sitting at the dinner table. Actively listen to what they are saying. Ask questions that make it clear that you care about what's happening with and to them.
The hard part is keeping the questions on neutral ground. Don’t come across as if you're interrogating them. Ask open-ended questions and let them talk for as long as they want to. Teens are more likely to share more when they don’t feel like they're under a microscope.
6 Make Time For Quality Time
Spending time with a teenager is nearly impossible. They always have something to do and someplace to be. Getting in some quality time may take a bit of creativity. For example, plan a family dinner night. Prepare their favorite dish and let them know that they are expected to be there.
One way to avoid resistance is to set a time limit, so that they still have time to do what they wanted to do. Small compromises like this let your teen know that they can have their freedom but they are still expected to be a part of the family.
5 Lead By Example
It cannot be said enough that the best way to teach a child what you expect from them is to lead by example. Show them how to build healthy, meaningful relationships. Give them your undivided attention when they are speaking to you. Treat them the way that you want to be treated and the way that you would want them to treat other people.
Of course, there will be instances where they may see you make mistakes yourself. Nobody's perfect! Talk to them about it. Acknowledge your behavior and take responsibility for it, just as you would want them to.
4 Quiet Time Is Quality Time Too
Quality time doesn’t always have to be filled with conversations. Sometimes, just being in the presence of a person strengthens the bond. If your child is watching a movie that you’re not particularly interested in, why not grab something that you can do quietly and just sit on the couch with them.
Sometimes, teens appreciate this time the most. It lets them know that you are willing to simply be there without invading their personal space or privacy. Cherish these moments just as much as you would any other. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a head in your lap!
3 Lend An Ear
This is another instance when silence is strength. There will be times when your teen just wants you to listen. They don’t want answers, questions or solutions. They simply need you to listen. Of course, you want to make it clear that you are listening and that you have an understanding of what they’re saying.
Lend an ear when they simply want to talk. Listen from a place that doesn’t allow you to pass judgment. When a child takes the initiative to come to a parent, the way their parent responds will directly affect whether or not they’ll do it again. Be careful to respond and not react too harshly.
2 Be Patient
Most parents would say that having a teenager requires the patience of... well, a very patient person indeed! Others will say that their teens are angels. Either way, patience is a necessity. After all, it's simply a stage that they have to pass through to reach adulthood.
Eventually, it will end. What they learn during these years will help to shape and mold them into who they are likely to be for the rest of their time on Earth. Always remember that you were once where they are and you made it. Trust the process and everything you've taught them.
1 Don't Take It Personally
As hard as it may be at times, don’t take your teen’s behavior personally. Simply put, they are growing up. Similar to a caterpillar in its cocoon, it's important that they take time to themselves to become who you prepared them to be.
Look for other means of staying close to them without invading their space and being overbearing. This time is just as confusing and hard for them as it is for you. Find little ways to let them know you’re still there.