What do I need to do to get a better relationship with my teenager?
Having a good relationship with your child during the teen and young adults years can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. In our culture, there is an expectation that teens will be difficult, they will rebel and they will not like or want to be around their parent(s). While the reasoning behind these ideas has some foundation and many real examples that we can all see, we can do some things to create a continued atmosphere of respect and love and trust with our children even during the teen and young adult years.
Here are some basic guidelines to staying connected to your teen or young adult:
1. Be the adult. You synchronize first. Take care of yourself emotionally and physically so that you can be the more mature person when conflict arises. Focus on keeping the relationship bigger than the problem. Reflect back to your teen what they are saying so that they feel heard and when they calm down, you will have a chance to speak some wisdom into the situation. Take deep breaths, stay calm and wait for the right opportunity. The relationship is worth it.
2. Help them find the things they are good at so that they won’t look for other unhealthy things to bring them satisfaction, excitement and “happiness”. Its so important to be “into” what they are into. Sometimes parents fall into the trap of expecting their child to like what they like or get skilled at something that will get them a scholarship or somehow help them in the future. When a young person is able to find what they are good at and what brings them satisfaction naturally, they will thrive. When the parent(s) of this young person is supportive of this in the right ways, the relationship will thrive.
3. See them for who they truly are and not how they are acting. As a parent, one of your main goals is to see your child through the lens of their best self. This is tough because they may not ever or hardly ever act like their best self and they probably have no idea who their best self is. We all act like someone we don’t want to be at least part of the time. When the identity center of the brain is growing during adolescents, it is so difficult for a teen to act like the person they want to be. It is our job as parents to reflect back to them even in hard times who they really are. When they are truly seen and loved in spite of their difficult behavior, the bond you share will become more secure than ever before.
It is so important for families to stay connected during the teen and young adult years. We dream about the day that our kids are grown, and they come back home for holidays with their spouses and children. This sense of deep belonging and connection with our family is something we naturally crave and that gives life meaning. If we lose connection now, this future together may not be what we hope it will be. Teens become adults and adults who were not able to resolve conflict with their parents don’t want to be around their parents. Don’t let yourself get in the way of creating a beautiful future for your family.