We’ve all been there. Feeling like your teen doesn’t like you at all. Maybe they are yelling at you? Maybe they are ignoring you? Maybe they are just saying it to your face, “I don’t like you.”
You throw your hands up in the air and say, “Fine! Be that way! See if I care!” But you do care. It is a crushing blow when your child treats you this way. It isn’t the way you imagined spending these last years before they leave your house to go and live their own life.
How do you capture this time? How do you build that relationship so that it can last through anything?
First of all, don’t take it personally
Your teenager is going though a lot and they will lash out at you. You have to help them find healthy ways to take out their frustration and learn to communicate with you. Which also means, you need to be receptive to them and their needs.
Remember, teenagers want independence
They are striving to be their own person, so give them the space that they need to try things on their own. You also need to let them have their wins. It is possible that they may be right sometimes, and even harder for you to admit when you are wrong. Don’t hesitate to say, “I’m sorry.”
Let them make mistakes
When you give them independence, be prepared for them to make their own mistakes. If you try to control their decisions so that they don’t have to suffer consequences, they will not appreciate that you are trying to prevent bad from happening, and instead they will only see your controlling behavior. Instead, let them make mistakes and live through their consequences. We learn best from our mistakes.
Stop Talking So Much
Now is the time to listen. Spend more time listening to understand, rather than being understood. Make sure your communication is spent less on telling them, and instead on understanding them.
Compliment Them More
Start paying attention to your interactions with your teenagers. Do you spend most of the time telling them what to do or criticizing? We have high expectations as they turn into young adults. Focus on complimenting them more often than giving a directive or criticism. They need the positive reinforcement during this time of high insecurity.
Their world is constantly in flux, with school, friendships, relationships, and trying to decide their future. They need to find comfort in the stability you provide. This also means that when you are reacting to your teenager, be sure to stay calm, patient, kind and caring. These reactions comfort them during a tumultuous time.
Help Them Find Other Trusted Adults
There will be times you just can’t be the one for your child. Some topics are just difficult. Guide them to other adults they can talk with such as school counselors, trusted family members, or even a spiritual guide. Sometimes knowing that you trust them enough to talk with others, makes them feel even more safe with you.
Stop The Pressure
Parents put a lot of pressure to perform on their child. You want them to be happy, and to be their best. But as humans, we have to accept that at times, we are going to be just “middle of the road.” Average is OK. Let your child feel that acceptance.
Do Things Together
Make time for your child, and do things that interest them. I have spent many conversations talking bout Minecraft, or Dungeons and Dragons. Do I understand it? No. Do I really want to spend my time learning about it? Not really. But it is important to my teen, and spending time with them engaging in their interests helps build our relationship. Take time to enjoy every minute you have together.
Being the parent of a teenager isn’t easy, but it can be one of the most enjoyable experiences. Take time to understand your child, their interests, and everything that makes them unique. Along the way, you will build your relationship and they may just start enjoying spending time with you too!