We now have 2 teens, and two young adults living at home, and one thing I’ve noticed as our children have grown older is that our parenting has to change. Each season of our kids’ lives – be it toddlers and pre-schoolers, or school age, or pre-teen, teen and even young adult – each season has a different need and our parenting has to respond to that need. One of the primary needs in the teen years is a relationship with our teen.
Teenagers want believe in things but they need to test to see if they can live by their beliefs. Parents have to recognise that they have done the teaching and training and now it is time to let the kids (teens) put it into practice. Of course, we will find gaping holes in our teaching as well – for these times we need to find a different way to pass on our values because just being the boss, just saying this is the way it is going to be, won’t influence your teen at all.
We need to be there for our teen – sometimes even more than when they were younger. Unfortunately many parents fear the teen years, and handle their teen with kid-gloves, but that isn’t right either. There is a balance between letting them discover the strength of their values themselves and being there for them. That balance is called relationship.
We need relationship with our teen if we are going to influence them in any way.
10 Tips for Building a Relationship with your Teen
Here are ten parenting tips that keep our relationship in mind:
1–Be involved in their life –
Be involved in their life; know their friends, be involved on social media, go to their games, at least be aware (and not critical) of their music and movie preferences. When they talk about their life – be interested.
2–Listen to their woes, their gripes, their bad days –
Listen to their woes, their gripes, their bad days and ask if you can help them, don’t presume they want your help. On the flip side, rejoice with them on their highs even if you don’t understand why its such a big deal. Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who grieve.
3–Don’t take their choices personally –
Don’t take their choices personally; they are their choices that reflect their heart not yours. When we take their choices as an attack on us personally it weakens our ability to give them unconditional love.
4–Set responsibilities, and expectations –
Set responsibilities and expectations that they will rise to those responsibilities. Have consequences that teach responsibility not punish lack of responsibility. They have to learn to balance responsibilities with a full adult life. Just because they have commitments doesn’t mean they don’t do chores around the house. Find a way to make this work: eg the chore roster may have to change from how it has always worked.
5–Continue to teach life skills –
Continue to teach life skills. They need to know different things for this phase of their life – be available to teach them. Money and time management, being a friend, filling out forms to name a few, understanding taxes, voting, etc
6–Remind them of the heart issues at hand –
Remind them of the heart issues at hand and give them time and space to think about it. A simple reminder and then walk away is all it takes to prompt them without nagging. Don’t nag.
7–Hug them when they hurt –
Hug them when they hurt. Don’t use the situation to teach – just hug. There’ll be plenty of time to help them, but for now they need to know our love and acceptance.
8–Deal with moods –
Deal with moods: moods happen, but they do not need to affect everyone else in the house. Release them from being a part of family activities until they have their attitude right (they need to spend time alone to sort out their stuff!)
9–Spend time together –
Spend time together – not just sit and have heart-to-heart, but do something. Maybe as mundane as the weekly grocery shop, or as fun as a weekend away – but spend time together doing life otherwise you become like ships passing in the night as their life get busier.
10–Expect respect and responsibility but not obedience –
Expect respect and responsibility but not obedience. If our teens are allowed to make their own choices then that diminishes the need for instruction and obedience. Instead other responses take place: respect and responsibility. Respect towards us their parents and responsibility towards their family and their values. Just because they are teens does not mean they live a selfish, self-centered life.
I have loved living with a houseful of teens. The things we taught them when they were young truly start impacting our family at this stage. They are caring, interesting and involved young people – and it does make it easy to live with them. But not to say that we haven’t had to use every one of these above tips at some stage.
Being a parent, teaching, training, helping our children to grow into mature, character driven adults who love God and love other people will always stretch and challenge ourselves to be loving, kind, consistent, true and respectful – and never more so than when we have teens in our home!
Over to you:
How’s things going with you and your teen? What do you do to build relationship with your teen?