If have a teenager, you might feel like you never really talk to him or her. Here are 6 tips for parenting your teens to build a strong relationship, learning how to reach them, and actually enjoying the time you spend together.
You probably already know that I have a teen and a tween. Most of the time, I enjoy them thoroughly.
They are real kids, and I am a real mom. Sometimes they hate my guts, and I'm not all that fond of them in those moments, either.
I have written before about fun things you can do with your teen, and also about how to keep your teen out of trouble, but what about the everyday stuff? What about the times when you're not specifically looking for something to do, but you just need to coexist with them and maybe have a conversation without getting loud sighs and eye rolls?
It can be done, my friend. It's not as elusive as tv shows would have you believe.
The teen years are a time of amazing growth for our kids, but they've also gotten a reputation for being the most difficult years of the parenting journey.
Personally, I challenge this because potty training. But I digress.
Despite what your teens may lead you to believe, they really do want to spend time with you (and even with their siblings!). But in the middle of teenage angst, out of control hormones, school stresses, and friend issues, they don’t necessarily know how to voice their desire for more mom time.
The tips below can help you reach out to them so you can both spend the time you desire together.
6 Tips for Parenting Teens Without Eye Rolls or Loud Sighs
1. Learn About Your Teen - All kids are unique human beings with their own likes and dislikes and personalities, and our teens are no different. We still think of them as little kids, right? But they have their own fears, dreams, and quirks.
If you don't take the time to learn about them as they are right now, today, you won’t stand much of a chance of connecting with them. And that connection is what makes your parenting road so much easier.
Instead of talking at your teens or telling them what they should think and feel, take the time to ask your teens some of these conversation starters or would you rather questions. Your teens may act like they don’t want to answer at first, and they may even roll their eyes, but deep down they will be thrilled that you’re taking an interest in them as people instead of as little kids.
2. Invite Them - Your teens are not likely to ask you if they can spend time with you. Adjust your expectations and assume that they won't. This means that the ball is in your court.
When you know how you want to spend time with your teens, take the initiative and ask them if they want to join you. They may hem and haw at first, but if you continue to invite them, they will eventually join you. Here are 18 activities that you can do to have fun with your teen, even if he or she is reluctant at first.
3. Do What They Enjoy - If you try to invite your teens to only do the things you enjoy, they will opt out very quickly. Instead, try asking them the types of things they like to do, and then do those things with them with a smile on your face.
Personally, I hate Minecraft with the passion of a thousand suns, but my tween loves it. I mean, she's totally obsessed. As much as I hate Minecraft, I like my kid. So if that means playing with her once in a while, I do it. Sometimes you have to suck it up and do something you don't like to do for the sake of your relationship.
4. Be Goofy - Chances are good that your teens have a great sense of humor and love to laugh and carry on with their friends. If you’re always being serious and stern with them, you may never see that side, and that will be a big loss for you.
Be goofy and silly with your teens. Make faces at them, dance in the grocery store, or have duet in the car at the top of your voices. Exchange funny memes on Instagram and Facebook. (That's one of my favorite things to do with my teen.) Play board games where you can laugh and carry on. Tell each other stupid jokes.
Yes, you are their parent, and yes, it’s your job to keep your teens safe and teach them to be responsible, but when you’re hanging out and trying to have fun with them, it is okay to be their friend too. In fact, I would say that it's crucial.
Joke around with your teens, be silly, and even be competitive if you’re playing a game. They will enjoy seeing a different side of you, and that will go a long way toward creating that bond that you're after.
5. But Don’t be Lame - I did say to be goofy, but try not to be lame. It will be hard to do because frankly, you’re old and most likely unhip, and they’re young and fresh and cool. (At least, this is the case in their minds, and if you think it's not, you're kidding yourself.)
Read the room. If your teens think your jokes are lame, you’ll risk losing them. If they think your clothes suck, you might get the eye rolls. If you say dumb things to their friends, they'll ice you out.
Sometimes joking can be a fun activity between the two of you. It is a timing thing, though so be sure the time is right before you get too involved in sharing your parenting lameness.
6. Don’t Try Too Hard - This one is especially hard to do when you’re craving time with a teen who has otherwise shunned you, but trying too hard or pushing them into spending time with you will only backfire. Instead of getting the quality parent/teen time you want, you will find yourself facing a locked door. Instead, ease into it and give your teen time to adjust to the idea of spending more time with you.
Invite your teens to spend time with you. Invite them to go to a movie together or to just hang out at home. Invite them to take you shopping and pick out something for you to wear. The key is that you're making it their decision and not forcing anything on them.
Your relationship with your teen does not have to suffer because of growing pains. By taking the time to learn how to spend time with your teen, you’re opening up a whole new world of communication and friendship with them.
If your relationship has already been seriously damaged, it may take some time for your teens to open up, and you may be tempted to give up. Try not to let yourself get that discouraged and just keep reaching out. Eventually your work will pay off.