Being a parent of a teenager can be a tricky business. They are finding out who they are outside of the influence of their parents and that can feel like they are pulling away. This is a good thing and means that parents have done their job well. Raising independent kids who aren’t afraid to step out of the comfort of the nest should be the goal. Applaud yourself if this is what’s happening. Still, you want to keep close tabs on your teen and make a space for them to come to you to talk openly about anything and everything that’s on their mind. A great way to do this is to make it a point to spend quality time together on a regular basis. Making your time together count is what it’s all about. Try some of these ideas to stay close and form bonds with your teens that will last a lifetime.
Step Into Your Teen’s World
It’s likely that your teenager enjoys things that you may not know much about. Be willing to step into their world and let them show you the things they are interested in. Let them be the teacher.
Show Sincere Interest in Their Interests
Anyone with a Gen Z child already knows they speak an entirely different language. But I want to understand this language (even if I may never be fluent in it). Show a sincere interest in what your teens are doing. Ask what they are working on? Ask about their sports and hobbies (whatever is applicable). Why do they like doing the things they do? These questions can lead to more about their likes and dislikes. Ask about their friends and why they enjoy being with them. What do they gain from those friendships? This may be question overload for your teen, so if they are feeling annoyed, back off a little and save some questions for another day.
Try to Hear What Often Goes Unsaid
Teenagers & young adults are not always great at expressing what they want and need. They can sometimes feel vulnerable and may be afraid of making someone angry or being rejected. Your child could be craving one on one time with you but may see that you are so busy with other things that they do not ask for what they need. Take the initiative to plan this time with your teen to keep your bond strong. Teenagers often have trouble expressing their emotions, so make sure to use your parental intuition to get to the heart of what they really want but may not be saying.
Eat Dinner Together
It can be really hard in the times we live in but eating dinner together (even a few times a week) can create an opportunity to talk to your teen. During mealtimes, turn off electronics and focus on the conversation. It can be the best way to find out about your teenager’s day. And even though they may protest, they will really appreciate the time spent together.
Go for a Drive Together
Rides in the car can be a great way to ease into a conversation about almost anything and it gives you the opportunity to find out what’s going on with your teen. One of the good things about riding in a car is that you don’t have to make eye contact. This can help many teens feel more comfortable bringing up uncomfortable subjects. Another good thing about being in the car is that no one can escape the conversation. If it gets a little uncomfortable, you must work through the awkwardness together. Conquering things like that can help you form a stronger relationship.
Do Something Active
Sometimes teens don’t like to just sit down and talk. However, if you get up and get moving, it can lead to easier conversation. You could try going for a hike, going bowling, playing catch in the yard or anything that has you both being active together.
Schedule a Family Night
Set aside time for the entire family to spend time together. Whether you choose to play games together or watch a movie once a week, make it a tradition everyone can count on.
It’s important not to make spending time with your teenagers a chore. At this point in their lives, free time is so important. They want to make sure they have plenty of their own personal time. For this reason, keep the activities you want to do together simple. By setting aside specific time to spend with your teenagers and letting it be their choice, you will likely find a lot of joy in really getting to know who your children are and what interests they have. You make a place for them to express hopes and dreams, that one day may be their reality.