As your child reaches puberty, their hormones change, and so does the simplicity of navigating your relationship. During this time, they desire more space. These are the years when your feelings are more easily hurt, because your teenager would rather be with friends than be with you. Don’t fall into the trap of shutting down or giving up. You can have a wonderful relationship with your teenager. It just should look different than it did when they were your “baby.” Please allow me to share a few ideas with you.
Identify Common Interests
My oldest daughter is really into songwriting. In addition to working in youth ministry, I am a songwriter and working musician. It would be crazy for me to not take advantage of our common interest and use it as a way to spend quality time together. We both find great pleasure in creating music. Why not use it to strengthen our relationship?
Look for New Experiences to Share
There are few things that bring people together like shared experiences. They just have a way of breaking down walls and causing people to open up. As long as you live, there will always be opportunities to experience new things. What greater way to experience them than with your teenager? Go see a new movie together. Try out a new restaurant. Believe it or not, as simple as these things are, they can work wonders in assuring that you and your teenager stay connected.
Be Creative with Affection
It is no secret that it’s much easier to show affection toward your children when they are younger. They crave and even initiate kisses and hugs. This is usually not the case by the time they enter high school. They still love you and want to know that you love them. You just can’t shout “I love you” in a room full of their friends. As they develop physically, it becomes more uncomfortable for mom to give her son kisses or dad to give his daughters hugs. Be creative. Create some inside “code phrases” that mean I love you. Maybe create some short, cool handshake that only you two know. There will be times when your teenager initiates an “I love you” or gives you a hug. Accept it when it comes, but don’t try too hard to make it the norm. If you’re willing to continue to creatively show affection, you’ll see your relationships remain strong.
I’m sure you’ve heard this more times than you can remember. It’s because it’s true. There is no substitute for being present. Be there when they have a fight with their friend. Be there when they break up with their boyfriend/girlfriend. Be at their games and recitals. Be there to provide guidance when they get off course. Be there to encourage them when they mess up and celebrate them when they succeed. By doing so, you will have also succeeded in maintaining a wonderful relationship with your teenager.