Spend Time With Your Teen
Research shows that teenagers with involved parents are more likely to make better decisions, stay out of trouble, and develop into successful, independent adults. However, it can be difficult for a parent to know how to be involved. When your child was young, you worked to meet all of their needs. As teens take over that responsibility, you may not know where you fit in. Here are a few ideas that can help:
Schedule time with your teen.
You don’t have to plan an elaborate outing, but simply schedule some time to spend together. You could buy them their favorite drink at Starbucks or show them how to bake their favorite dessert, take them out to their favorite restaurant for dinner, or watch a movie together at home. Spending time together shows your teen that they are a priority to you.
Make a conscious effort to look for positive things your teen has done and praise them for it. This takes very little time and can be so encouraging to a teenager.
When your teen says something, be interested! Make eye contact, listen, and ask questions. This demonstrates respect, and besides, it’s fun to hear your teen’s opinions – even if they are different from your own – because you are seeing who they are becoming.
Keep a family calendar.
Checking a weekly schedule together will help you see what responsibilities are ahead, available times to do things together, and topics for conversation with your teen during the week, such as, “How did your team practice go?”
Involved parents set limits for their teens, and revise and maintain them over time so they stay age appropriate. You can read about how to do that in our previous blog, The Disobedient Teen.
Follow their activities.
Your teen is bound to have some activity that interests them. If it’s a hobby, ask them to explain the details. If it’s a sport, go to their games. If it’s art, take a painting class together. You get the idea… connect with them in an area that is meaningful to them.
There is something about food that gets a conversation going. Try to have a meal (any meal, not just dinner) together a few times a week so that you can have fun, meaningful chats. If you have time, ask your teen to help prepare the meal, another life skill they need for adulthood.
Get tech savvy.
Youth use technology to interact, so meet them where they are. Use texting to stay in contact with your teen during the day. And, consider asking your teen to teach you something new in technology or to help you when you have a problem with your device. It will help you stay up to date and thrill your teen to be teaching you something for a change.
Ask their opinion.
Find opportunities to ask your teen for their opinion. Teens want to know you’re interested in them. Ask them what they think of a current event, what their favorite book is, or what the best new television show you should start watching is.
A parent’s role may shift as their child matures, but it doesn’t decrease in importance. It’s not hard to stay involved in a teen’s life if you prioritize a little time for them. Make that investment, and you will be setting them up for a bright future, as well as have a positive, happy relationship with your child!