As your children grow and become more independent, parenting challenges evolve. Many teens begin spending less time with their families than they did when they were younger. They may look for reasons, like clubs and after school jobs, to spend more time out of the house. Relationships with friends become very important.
Sometimes it can feel like your teen doesn’t need you as much as they used to. But teens still need their parents’ love, support, and guidance. In many ways, your love, support, and guidance are more crucial than ever at this stage in your child’s development.
What You Might Be Seeing:
It is normal for your teen to:
- Crave independence.
- Question rules and authority.
- Test limits.
- Act impulsively.
- Sometimes make mature decisions and other times make more childish decisions.
What You Can Do
Simple, everyday activities can reinforce the connection between you and your teen. Don’t focus on grand gestures as a way to erase past conflict. Sometimes the build up to a big event can lead to feelings of disappointment. Do make room in your schedule for special times, but also use routine activities to show that you care.
Tips to Keep in Mind:
- Have family meals. If it’s not possible to eat together every night, schedule a regular weekly family dinner that accommodates everyone’s schedule.
- Share “ordinary” time. Be on the lookout for everyday opportunities to bond with your teen. Would waking up 20 minutes earlier mean you could drive your teen to school? Even walking the dog together offers a chance for your teen to talk about what’s on his or her mind.
- Get involved, be involved, stay involved. Attend games and school events. Ask about homework and school projects. Learn about your teen’s favorite websites and online games.
- Get to know your teen’s friends. Knowing your teen’s friends is a good way to connect. Make your home a welcoming place for your teen and his or her friends. Get to know friends’ parents too, when possible.
- Be interested. Care about your teen’s ideas, feelings, and experiences. Then make it clear to him or her that you care. If you listen to what he or she says, you’ll get a good sense of the support and guidance needed.
- Set clear limits. Yes, teens still need your guidance, but they don’t always love the limits you set. One way to ease conflict here is to involve your teen in setting the rules and consequences. Make sure the consequences are related to the behavior and be consistent in following through. Choose your battles and provide choices in areas that are less important.
Remember: Your words and actions will help your teen feel secure. Don’t forget to say and show how much you love your teen!
(Adapted from: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/teen_ts.pdf)