photo of mom and son

Courtesy of Pixabay

1. Spend time with your teen

It’s all too easy for parents to be sidetracked right when their children need them most — especially during the teenage years – because our teens are so much more independent now. Our teens need our undivided attention. The fact of the matter is, parents need to spend more time with their children when they reach adolescence, not less. Unfortunately, this is also the time when the kids get busy with school, sports and youth group activities, and parents are at the peak of their careers. We’re all busy, but its essential that you chisel out time on a regular basis to give your teen your full attention.

A busy, stressed-out parent may not only ignore their teenager, but when their teen makes mistakes (and they will), the parent may respond in ways that don’t always convey unconditional love.

This engenders the erection of the proverbial wall between the parent and teen in their relationship and suddenly the teenager and parent become distant.

You see, teenagers need their parents more than they will ever admit. And when the relationship is broken, it is all too easy for a teenager to start down the wrong path in life. When they do, it is a wake-up call for the parents.

Relationships with teenagers thrive when time is spent together, in a setting where everyone agrees, that nobody is perfect and unconditional love is received by all.

2. Feeling the love – Your teenager’s most fundamental need is to feel loved by you. By feeling your unconditional love, he or she is better equipped to handle the bumpy road of adolescence. Your teen needs constant affirmation of your love. Think of it like a bank account that only accepts relational currency.

Relational currency is an act or statement that expresses love, care or concern for another person. Every time you show your teen affection, it’s like making a deposit into their account. The more deposits you make, the more they will feel connected and supported by you, even during difficult times.

On the flip side of the coin, every negative interaction is a withdrawal. If you withdrawal more than you deposit, you deplete your teen’s account, leaving your teen feeling abandoned and unloved. Instead of expressing that to you, he or she may misbehave, act out in school, have tantrums, or rebel. This turns opportunities for connection into power struggles, which leaves everyone angry and discouraged.

Your goal is to keep your teen’s emotional bank account as full as possible. By doing this, when the inevitable “clash” arises, your teen has enough relational currency to cover it.

3. Spending time together…One-on-One – Of all advice you hear or read, this one you cannot ignore. Spend individual and focused time with your teen each and every week. Make it a habit. Take your teen out for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, malls, movies – the list is endless. Even if they resist or say they are too busy, you must insist. This tells your teen “You are worth spending time with.” Drive together or meet in a place you can talk and come prepared with a topic to discuss that interests your teen. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Remember, your positive interactions with your teen must outweigh the negative.

4. Listening – Listening is one of the most powerful, yet under-appreciated ways of displaying affection. True emphatic listening demonstrates a sincere interest in the other person. You can do this by asking questions and listening intently to what your teen is saying. Remember, listen more and answer less.

5. Showing your teen affection – Showing your teen affection can be a tricky thing. Due to developmental changes, you may find that the way you expressed love in the past may not work as well now that he is an adolescent. Your teen may act embarrassed of you or reject you and push you away. For this, a pat on the back, touch on the shoulder, high five or fist bump may be more appropriate now. Follow your teen’s lead on this one, especially when it comes to timing, place and manner. If you’re not sure what to do, ask, trust me, he’ll tell you. Although it may seem like your teen doesn’t want your affection, nothing could be further from the truth.

6. Establish boundaries – Every good thing in life has its rules and boundaries, including your relationship with your teen. Let them know what you expect before something challenges those expectations. Clearly establish your belief system and household rules. Being too lax as a parent and trying to act more as their friend and peer will hurt, not help your relationship.

7. Act on your beliefs – Don’t just say or preach it, put your beliefs into action! Serve others, love others, forgive others. Exercise your beliefs in front of teenager.

8. Develop a sense of humor – Some of us are sour, bitter, stressed or way too serious all of the time, which shows a not so pleasant expression on our face. We need to lighten up – especially around sensitive teenagers. When was the last time you really laughed or even smiled? Why not sit down and watch some hilarious movies and laugh until you cry. Or have a joke night – where everyone has to come to dinner with a joke to share. If you don’t know any jokes? Google them, or buy a joke book.

9. Remember your teen’s past and believe in your teen’s future – Carry a photo of your child as a youngster with you at all times! Post their baby photo on your refrigerator. This way you’ll never forget who this child was before they turned into an alien in their teenager years.

When you keep your teen’s emotional bank account full, you’re able to form a stronger connection between the two of you. A strong connection leads to better communication and a deeper understanding between the both of you. Make regular deposits!