Parenting teens can feel a little overwhelming to start with.
Take yourself back to the time when you were over the moon over the idea of being a parent. You were probably super excited about embracing this new journey- so much so that you didn’t even realize that you’re that tiny little creature, wiggling in your arms will turn into a fast-growing child, and then into a teenager in a blink of an eye.
And if you thought the toughest part of parenting (aka the sleepless nights and diaper changes and constant running around to get your kid to be his best in school), was over, you’re wrong. Welcome to teenagehood, with the raging hormones, the peer pressure and the social media influence.
(Don’t worry it is an age and stage PACKED with good stuff too)
Parenting teens – what helps?
If you’re one of those parents who are apprehensive about how to handle this phase of parenting teens, wanting to be a great parent and at the same time, develop a good connection with your child, here’s some help.
Scroll down and keep reading to discover some actionable ways to do just that.
When Raising Teens you have to Accept Them
The most important task that you probably need to do as a parent is to accept your child for who they are. Sure, now that your child isn’t a child anymore, and is a teen who’s capable of understanding and making ‘sensible’ decisions, remember that your teen doesn’t always have to be perfect. Try, as much as you can, to avoid setting unrealistic expectations from them, and be more accepting.
Remind them that no matter how many times they fumble or fail, their place right next to you is unmatched.
You might like to purchase my book Be Happy Be You which has 50 happiness boosting tips for teens
Strive to Form a Connection
You don’t always have to rely on big family events or holidays to find a way to strengthen the bond between you and your teen- it is all about seizing the moment and making the best of the opportunities that come your way. Have a day off from work and got an evening to spend with your teen? Utilize it to get them into the kitchen and cook pizza together. Just found out that your teen scored full marks on a test? Take them out for a long drive and some ice-cream to end their day.
These little things matter and they can help a great deal in forming a stronger connection between you and your teen.
Eat Together when parenting teens
One of the best ways to make sure that all the members of your family are connected to each other on a deeper level is to make family dinners sacred. Make it a point to keep the conversation fun, light and engaging. It can be literally anything- talking about how everyone’s day was or a discussion about current events. The idea is to make those 20 something minutes a refreshing experience- something everyone in the family (including your teen) can look forward to.
Be Their Biggest Support
It goes without saying that children who grow up in a healthy home (and by healthy, we mean mentally healthy), are able to live better lives. Try to be your teen’s biggest support system and cheerleader. Encourage them to do more of whatever it is that they love doing, pat them on the back often, and offer constructive criticism if needed. Raising teens can be filled with connection.
Make an effort to notice everything that your teen does, and applaud them for their little wins. It’s a parenting teens win!
Follow Their Lead
This one can be a toughie, especially for overprotective parents. If you know that’s you, now’s the time to give it a try, and consciously make an effort to start letting your teen take charge- at least for some tasks and activities. If there’s a particular sport or activity they want to pursue, let them do it. Don’t try to intervene too much. Let them make some decisions themselves.
This will not just help form a stronger bond between you both, but will also help them develop a sense of confidence in their abilities.
Parenting Teens Top Tip – Just Listen
The thing about dealing with teens is that you have to genuinely be all-in. What your teen actually needs is a parent who wants to listen to what you have to say- even about things that may seem tiny and meaningless to you- because remember, they are actually a big deal to them.
When you do this, you’ll effortlessly become the person they’ll come to talk to, and that’s how it should be. As a parent, you should be there to listen to what your teen has to say, preferably without judgement.
Ask For Suggestions when Raising Teens
Remember that teens are nearly adults, and they like to have that sense of control and confidence in themselves. When you start doing that as a parent, you’ll find that they automatically become more attached to you, and get connected to you.
Don’t hesitate to ask for their suggestions and inputs in certain matters. Make them feel special. Parenting teens means beginning to see them as grown-ups. Make them feel important, it really helps.
It doesn’t even have to be something big or elaborate. It can just be fashion advice or help buying a new phone- you get the drill.
Sure, your little toddler may have grown up now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tell them goodnight everyday! This little act can actually be a good way for your teen to end their day- they might be going through an emotional struggle or just a bad day at school, and your little gesture might make them retire to bed on a cozy, soothing note.
Create a Ritual
Family traditions and rituals are a great way to build a stronger bonding between all the members of the family, and bring them together on a light, joyful note. If you don’t already have a family ritual, now’s the best time to get started with one! It can be anything at all- for instance, Friday nights can be takeout nights with a nice movie that you all sit and watch together, or Sunday mornings can be the entire family going out for a short hike.
And of course, apart from all of this, a quick, unexpected hug never fails!
Further reading on parenting teens
I do hope this post on parenting teenagers with love and understanding is useful to you. You might also like my posts on how to strengthen your bond with your child & how to connect with a distant teen
Do take a look at this great book What’s my teenager thinking? to get more of an insight into teen psychology and some top tips on responding to it positively