Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Teen

mom-and-teen-girl-cooking-vertAs you may already know, communicating with teenagers is not always easy. Their conversations can be filled with one-word responses and plenty of eye-rolling. So, what’s a parent to do if they want to have a strong relationship with the teen in their life? Try to engage your teenager in activities that may naturally create bonds and spark interesting conversation:

Plan an Activity Together

Research shows that spending time together is one of the best ways to grow closer to someone. So, ask your teen to help you plan a day-long adventure or an overnight trip. Planning how you will spend your time together will become part of the bonding process, develop your teen’s planning and organization skills, and help your teen buy into the activity. Working together to create a fun experience can give you something to look forward to and the time you spend together will create lifelong memories.

Ask Your Teen to Teach You Something

Allowing your teenager to be your teacher can have a very positive effect on your relationship! Your teen probably has an interest that they know more about than you do. If they love baseball, ask for an explanation of game strategy. If they love video games, ask them to show you how to beat their latest game. If you struggle figuring out how to use social media, your teen could help you get your account secure and up-to-date. Whatever the “lesson” is, show a genuine interest in learning from them, and you may see some positive gains in your relationship.

Learn Something New Together

Many studies show that families enjoy having time to be creative together, as well as learning from each other. Deciding to learn something new together can create fun family memories, while giving everyone a bonding opportunity as you expand your skills together. Ask your teen to pick something that they have never tried before – for example, maybe photography, skiing, cooking, painting, or kayaking – and enjoy taking a class together!

Be Spontaneous

A daily routine is important in a family – it helps establish expectations and security. However, sometimes we can get so caught up in our habits that life becomes monotonous and predictable. Relationships thrive on fun, so keep your eye out for adventure and occasionally do something unexpected and exciting. Creating fun memories can be as simple as deciding to eat dinner at a local restaurant or catching a movie on a school night.

Start a Family Business

One way to strengthen a relationship is to work together towards a common goal. A simple small business that you and your teen develop together could help you feel closer. The business could involve anything from making crafts to sell online, selling baked goods, landscaping, or designing t-shirts.

Volunteer as a Family

Research shows several benefits for teens who engage in community service, including better academics, self-value, and responsibility. Volunteering as a family gives you and your teen an opportunity to work together while also helping the community. Whether you sign up for a one-time fundraiser or commit to a weekly service project, serving others will likely provide you and your teen with a sense of gratitude about what you have as a family.

Experience Nature

Many families report that being active together outdoors creates meaningful family time. Activities that can be a great way to bond with youth are:

– hiking (exploring nature together),

– biking,

– boating and/or fishing,

– taking a family walk, and

– gardening (planting seeds, caring for plants, and harvesting vegetables can feel satisfying and therapeutic).

Communicate Via Social Media

While most of us wish our teens would put their electronics down, the reality is that they communicate via texting and social media more than any other way, and you shouldn’t miss out on that opportunity. Youth report that when their parents check in with them over social media, they feel that their face-to-face communication also improves.

Final Thoughts…

Strengthening your relationship with your teen requires an investment of time and energy. It’s not as simple as having a deep conversation over coffee, like you might with a friend. Instead, connecting with your teen through activities and their interests helps form strong bonds. Be sure that you also take time to “unplug” from your technology and distractions when you interact together.

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