We all know that the teenage years are difficult for both child and parent. Teens are going through a period when they are changing emotionally, mentally and physically, along with facing new stressors and leaving behind some of the carefree living of childhood. Parents find difficulty communicating with their teenager, instituting regular family activities and keeping their child engaged with the family unit. The key to surviving these days, when you find your teen to be more of an alien than the child you gave life to, is finding a common ground and utilizing it as basis for congenial living.
It is important to recognize that our teenagers are no longer children; they are young adults. In a few short years, they may be leaving our home to go off to college and living on their own. As such, it is our responsibility as parents to facilitate their growth into adulthood. Teenagers often complain that their parents are treating them like children, so this is our golden opportunity to afford them some adult responsibilities.
At this point, we should set down with our teen and really listen to their thoughts and feelings. Taking note of what they say, restating their concerns and responding with our own interpretation of reality gives both parties a sense of being heard and understood. Discussing such things requires us, the parents, to exercise active listening skills by asking open-ended questions, using affirmations and restating our child’s words. In doing such things, we are telling our teen that we hear and appreciate what they are saying.
This is also an appropriate time to explain what we expect from our teen. This is certainly a touchy subject that must be approached in a non-confrontational manner. Speaking to our teens about taking responsibility for household chores, buying some of their own clothing or paying for car insurance can go a long way toward preparing our teen for independence. Framing the discussion in a manner that emphasizes their impending adulthood can be of great benefit in getting our teens to buy-in on performing new duties.
Most importantly, though, discussing how much it means to remain a part of the family is integral. Even though teens seem to shy away from such “mushy” subjects, parents can emphasize the importance of the teen’s role as a member of the family, which does not end the moment they turn 18. Scheduling events of interest to our teen is an excellent tactic for getting them to appear for quality family time. Generally, movie nights and shopping trips serve as great motivation for our teen to be excited about participating. Also, having regular meals together is a wonderful way for all family members to catch-up and will enhance the family bond.
In order to maintain a good relationship with our teens and keep them from becoming aliens to us, we must emphasize the importance of family togetherness. Engaging them and giving them the opportunity to find intrinsic value in the family activities can aid in maintaining their interest. Most of all, though, we the parents must take the role of guidance counselor in our child’s journey into adulthood.