As the parent of a teenager, you have a lot of obligations. Between work, household responsibilities, juggling bills, driving your teen around, caring for younger children, volunteer opportunities, and everything else that goes along with being a busy adult, it can be difficult to find the time to spend one-on-one with your teenager. You might not realize what a major positive impact your attention and time have on your teen. The truth is, a good parent-teen relationship is important to most teens. It can prevent various issues that sometimes plague teens, such as unsafe sex, drug use, and alcohol experimentation. If you’re looking to improve your parent-teen relationship, spending time with your teen is a good was to start. Read on for information and tips related to spending time with your teenager.
Teens Want Their Parents to Be Involved
Although your teen might act as though you’re uncool and not very bright, it’s likely that he or she actually wants to have a good parent-teen relationship with you and wants you to be involved. Teens are flexing their independent muscles and pushing boundaries, but even when they roll their eyes, they really are listening.
Teens learn from their parents what it means to be an adult. This doesn’t mean that they’ll agree with everything you’re doing, of course, but they are watching and taking note of how you handle various responsibilities. Spending time with your teen also gives you the opportunity to talk to them about drugs, alcohol, sex, bullying, and other topics that might seem uncomfortable but need to be brought up.
Finding Time to Spend With Your Adolescent
With your plate piled high with responsibilities, making time to spend with your teen might be something that gets pushed to the wayside. It’s natural for this to happen; you spent as much time as you could with your child when he or she was younger, but now both of you have more limitations on your time. By making time spent with your teen a priority, however, you are giving them the (accurate) impression that they are just as, if not more, important than all of the other obligations that you have.
You still might need to do some mental gymnastics — and a few physical ones, too — to fit it all in. Consider simply including your teen with whatever you are doing already. If you can squeeze in a half hour coffee date before your weekly grocery shopping, your teen can enjoy the treat, then accompany you on the errand. If you’re already going to the gym three days per week, see if your teenager would like to join you. Think about where you’re spending your time and consider whether it’s a place you could bring your adolescent.
Schedule a date with your teen in advance of the day whenever possible. This shows him or her that you value their time as much as you value your own. Also, try to set up a weekly time to spend together so you always have the next time to look forward to.
Tips on Communicating With Your Teen
Once you begin spending more time together, you might notice that it’s a challenge to communicate well with your teenager. If you tend to fall back on the same arguments all the time, you can make a deal with your teen that you won’t discuss the upsetting topics during your scheduled dates or times together.
Also, avoid asking prying questions or saying things that your teen will find judgmental. For example, if you don’t like one of your teen’s friends and think they’re a bad influence, just leave the discussion alone during your times together. It’s rarely worth the fight and it will ruin a nice time.
Other tips you can try include:
- listening more than you talk
- asking about their interests and trying to understand them
- trying to appreciate you teen’s unique worldview, especially when it does not line up with yours
Fun Activities to Try With Your Teenager
Many parents of teens have heard, “no, that’s boring!” when they ask their child if they’d like to try a certain activity. In some cases, a bit of cajoling will work. Many times, an adolescent will say they don’t want to do something but then they end up having a great time after all. If your teen is a bit reluctant to try new things, however, favorite activities might be what you should stick to for now.
Try to get into whatever is interesting your teen. If he loves video games or she loves watching makeup tutorial on YouTube, ask if you can join in for a little while. Your open mindedness can inspire the same open attitude in your teen. You can also go through a list of suggested activities for teens and see which ones appeal to both of you; maybe you can start them together!
Improving Your Relationship With Your Teen
If you would like to spend more time with your teen but feel that your relationship is strained, this is something to work on before they become an adult. Spending time together is one great way to improve your parent-teen relationship. Showing your teen affection, setting reasonable boundaries, and cultivating your sense of humor will also help.
If you are having a hard time communicating with or relating to your teen, consider seeking family counseling to help you through this bump in the road. If your teen refuses to participate, you can go to counseling on your own. The therapist can help you figure out some ways to better relate to your teenager and to strengthen your parenting skills.
Parenting a teenager is not for the faint of heart! By spending more time with your teen, you can improve your parent-teen relationship and set him or her up on a more solid foundation as they enter adulthood. In addition, you can be paving the way to a friendship that can blossom once your teen is an adult. It may be that in a decade or so, you will count your then-adult child as one of your closest friends.