Teenagers are trying desperately to grow up and separate themselves from you as a child, and come into their own as an adult. While we still see them as chubby cheeked babies, by nature, they’re grown up. While science has shown in recent research that a child’s frontal lobes, which control reason and intellect don’t close until, in some cases, 22 years old, by our societies standards 18 years old is an adult. They will be expected to be adults, will be legally responsible as adults, and as a parent it is your job to help them be as prepared as possible.
One way you can accomplish this is by strengthening your parent teenager relationship. You only have so much time left, so use it wisely. You can build a relationship that will last a lifetime well into adulthood with your child if you think long term. It may be one of the most important things you’ve ever done in your lifetime.
- Let Your Teen Be Themselves — It is very important to value your teenagers unique personality and individuality. While it is more likely that as an adult, your teen will model your actions and behavior, but right now they are teens trying to discover themselves. Just remember blue hair grows out, bad music is temporary, and most adults with jobs don’t still wear saggy pants.
- Highlight Natural Talents & Gifts — All children are blessed with natural talents and gifts. For one it might be music, math or being a good student. But others you may have to dig deeper to find the talent or gift. Maybe the teenager is a good communicator, or debater (future lawyer?), or simply having a kind and gentle soul might be their gift. All gifts have value. Highlight their gifts and help your teen figure out how to develop the gift further.
- Don’t Judge Your Teenager – When it comes to a strong parent teenager relationship, it is important to refrain from passing judgment on your teen for behaviors that you find questionable. You are supposed to be your teenagers safe place. If a teen is struggling sexually, mentally or otherwise being able to talk to you in an open environment free of judgment will go far in giving your teen the self esteem they need to cope with the world.
- Stay Positive Even When They are Negative — Often teenagers express themselves by being negative and rude. While it’s not acceptable you don’t have to join in. Simply ignore rude behavior and state calmly: “When you are ready to communicate with me respectfully, I’ll be here. I love you.” Then leave the situation. They’ll come around on their own time.
- Enter Your Teens Universe — Your teen probably enjoys doing things that you don’t enjoy. Once in awhile let your teen pick the activities for the family so that they can share their passions with you and everyone else. Go on a date with your child once a month, doing what he or she wants to do and you’ll be amazed at how they’ll light up.
- Respect Your Teenagers Boundaries — Often parents like to be authoritarian and proclaim that a child’s bedroom is fair game for searches at anytime. This is not a good idea. To enhance your parent teenager relationship, you want your child to have a sense of boundaries regarding their own rights and you can start by giving them trust until proven otherwise. Children will usually live up to whatever expectations you have for them.
- Listen Twice as Much as You Talk — When you’re communicating with your teenager allow silence to exist in comfort. By allowing silence you will give your teenager a chance to say things to you that they cannot say if you’re talking. As the saying goes, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason!.”
- Tell Your Teen The Truth — Even though it’s important not to judge your teen, or prevent them from self-expression, it’s also important to tell your teenager the truth about how you feel about issues that arise. Telling your child that you don’t agree with a choice they made, and why, but that you love them and will support them anyway goes very far in helping your child learn to think things through before acting.
By using any or all of the tips above, you will be well on your way to building a stronger parent teenager relationship.