When your child was young, connecting was easy. They relied on you for even the simple things, like getting dressed and eating meals. Now that your child is a teenager, however, your help is not as needed. In fact, they may want to distance themselves from you as much as possible (especially in front of their peers!).
As your teen establishes their own identity, remember that they still need you, just in a different way. Your unconditional love as their parent is invaluable and irreplaceable. As they shift, you can shift how you connect with them. Here are four tips to earn trust and earn influence with your teen:
1) Schedule one-on-one time
One-on-one time with your teen is a valuable way to connect. Be curious about their interests. Ask your teen what they want to do. You might plan a nice meal at their favorite restaurant or a day trip to a museum. Whatever the activity, make sure it is meaningful to your teen. Also, follow up. Make your time together a routine. For example, if your teen loves movies, make it monthly movie time.
2) Cook together
Homework, chores and other expectations may drive your teen to isolate themselves while they are home. To get them more involved with the family, ask your teen if they would like to cook or bake together. Teach them how to make that recipe they always devour. Or, perhaps they have a sweet tooth and you can try a new cookie recipe together. Let your teen own the cooking; let them select what they want to make.
3) Get to know your teen’s friends
Friendships are vital to teenagers. Take the time to get to know your teen’s friends. Care about their friends’ families and their activities. Make your home a space where your teen and their friends want to be. Let your teen host movie night or a game tournament at your house. Buy pizza for them. Give them breathing room to have fun together.
4) Listen to your teen
Your teen has a lot going on. Take the time to listen to their needs and frustrations. Ask questions at appropriate times. Avoid jumping to solutions. Give them space to come to you and navigate their own thoughts and opinions. Ultimately, your teen wants to be known. Listening to them allows you to get to the root of the issue and love them in meaningful ways.
If you are still struggling to connect with your teen, consider Shelterwood. At Shelterwood, we are driven to see the lives of teens transformed. We surround teens with a community of people committed to their growth, including dozens of dynamic young adult staff. Contact us to begin your journey to family restoration.