A BLOG FOR PARENTS WHO WANT TO LEARN HOW TO NAVIGATE THE TEEN YEARS AND NOT JUST SURVIVE BUT THRIVE!
Do you remember all the silly shows you would watch, and the games/toys you would play with for hours just for the sake of your growing baby/toddler? It may not always have been the most fun way to spend your day, but you knew you had to get on their level to connect and help them learn and grow.
So why is it that this concept is thrown out the window once kids start to become teens? Suddenly we have “better things to do” with our time than listen to our teens talk about their day, friends, favorite shows, sports, or hobbies. Is it because our kids can now think and behave in more complex ways, so we expect them to do more “adult” things with their new capabilities?
How can we forget teens are still growing and learning, and need us to meet them where they are? It’s been my experience that parents of teens who engage in activities meeting the teens where they are developmentally, tend to have better relationships and know more about what is happening in their teen’s life.
How can a parent reengage with their teen? Here are 3 easy ways:
1. Meet them where they are.
Pay attention to what they are into. Learn more about it on your own. Ask them questions about their interests. Human beings love to talk about themselves and their passions. Teens are no different, but they do want to see you GENUINELY care. This means put down the phone, turn off the tv, and ignore other distractions (within reason of course). Learn how you can participate in their interests and meet them in the middle where necessary.
2. Actively Listen.
We all can tell when someone is listening and when someone is distracted. Ask questions. Reflect back what they are talking about to make sure you’re understanding. Validate their experiences and emotions. Remember don’t label their feelings. While labeling their feelings was helpful when they were younger because you needed them to be able to express themselves clearly, now it just makes them feel like you’re telling them “what to do/feel.” Let’s be honest no one likes being told how they feel by someone who is not experiencing their thoughts and feelings.
3. Fight the urge to fix it.
As an adult, do you like it when others don’t listen to you when you have a concern or want to voice an experience? Do you appreciate it when someone begins criticizing or judging you based on your choices, behaviors, style, friends, partner, etc.? I’m going to guess the answer is no. Guess what? Your teen doesn’t like it either. Your role as a parent is to guide, protect, nurture, support, and teach not to judge or criticize. There will be enough people in your teens life who already occupy that space, they don’t need that at home too. Remember why you like to come home? Maybe it’s because you feel safe, loved, understood and supported. That’s what your teen should feel too, so check in and see if you are doing what you can to make this a reality for them.
Reconnecting with teens is easier than at first glance, but it does require effort and focus just like when they were younger. You need to be genuinely interested in connecting. If you are not, your teen can tell a mile away and will shut down almost instantly.
Want some practical ideas on how to reengage with your teen? Then be sure to download my FREE Ideas List for more ways to actively and authentically connect with your teen.
During stressful times we may find our relationships take a hit too. Parenting during the teen years can put a strain on your marriage/relationship with your partner. Between struggling to keep your emotions in check and learning to handle your teen’s experiences, you may find relationships get neglected or you have trouble bringing your best self to the relationship.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be this way though! There is hope! I’d like to share with you a few ways to continue nurturing your relationships, in addition to the one with your teen.
One thing you may have heard is that relationships take work and nurturance. So, it only makes sense that you would need to dedicate time, energy, and love to those who hold a special place in your life. What does this really look like in daily life though?
A good way to show you care is to make time to reconnect. This means setting aside time for one another despite all the stuff that might be dividing your attention right now. Pencil it in, get a sitter, and show up. Make sure when you are dedicating time to your relationship that you are as present as you can be. This means putting down the phone, which I know might be tough, but I promise you will thank me later.
It’s not so much about the price tag or how big the actual thing is that you are doing for someone you care about. More times than not, we just want to know that someone else thinks of us when we are not around or that someone is actually paying attention to the things we say. A thinking of you text or call can truly turn someone’s day around and put a smile on their face, and yours! Get creative!
When it comes to marriage/partnership and parenting, remember that you are in this together. Revisit your roles in parenting, chances are they need to be reevaluated, you do have a teen on your hands now! Revisiting roles, discussing individual values and parenting styles can help ensure you are on the same page. This way you won’t be divided or manipulated by your teen who is all about that freedom and independence, no matter the cost.
It can be a struggle to find the time or energy to focus on something other than your teen, but it is possible and necessary. If you keep the foundation of your relationship intact then you won’t be alone in your frustrations or in trying to figure out healthy solutions.
Need help figuring out some fun ways to reconnect or make some of those small gestures? Be sure to download my FREE Reconnecting Ideas List for ways to be creative and breathe new life into your relationships.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term self-care by now. It basically means taking time to care for your needs. These needs include physical ones like sleep, water and food, as well as emotional, psychological, social, and intellectual needs.
As parents we often feel our needs come last. We are expected to focus on the needs of our kids, partners, friends, and family. It is becoming increasingly evident that we ALL have needs and that self-care is a NECESSARY part of our well-being.
There are three huge benefits to engaging in a regular self-care practice as the parent of a teen:
So what exactly does self-care look like, practically speaking?
Download my FREE Self-Care List of ideas to get you started!
Emotions run high during the teen years. Most of the things that happen are felt at a ten instead of the five or six they really are. It becomes fairly easy to get sucked into that highly emotional phase in development with your teen. You might find yourself feeling overly empathetic and powerless, becoming anxious or frustrated all the time, and struggling to manage your own complicated feelings about your teen years.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you respond to your teen’s comments, experiences, and behaviors:
While emotions are great, they can get in the way of effective parenting. Considering these questions, and responding versus reacting, can help you get through some tough situations with minimal power struggles.
Check out my FREE cheat-sheet to learn ways you can help build more self-esteem and confidence in your teen!