While on a recent trip to the grocery store, I happened to hear a mother telling her teenage daughter not to answer her ringing cell phone. Of course, the daughter explained to her mother that “she just had to answer it" As the mother was in the middle of stating how she barely gets two minutes of her daughters time in a day, and her daughter answering the ever so “important" call anyways, all I could think was how much I could relate with this poor woman. In fact, I'm sure most parents with teenage children can relate to her as I did.
On the Parents side of the coin, it's like we went from diapering our children and being the center of their universe to complete strangers. . ! Of course, the teens would say we have just plain out turned into a major pain in the rear for them. It's a bit weird for me when I think about the time when my boys were younger, all they wanted was my complete attention that sometimes was a struggle to provide at every minute of the day. Welcome to the Teen Years Parents. . . ! The roles have switched. . As much as we dislike it, we will now struggle to get the attention of our children as they struggle to give it to us. . . Ultimately, we do want our children to become strong, independent, and well-rounded adults, and most of them will. However, during this whole process of becoming a teenager, as parents we tend to go through a bit of separation anxiety of our own. Our teens simply do not require the same attention they did when they were younger. It is important for all parents to realize during this transition, our teens DO need our attention and our love, but we have to approach it differently as they make their way to independence. This is the phase where talking and relating with our teens will meet its biggest challenge. Hang on to your hats parents. . . !The time you once shared with your child is now going to be limited because of academics, extra curricular activities, friends, and maybe even a part-time job. Because of these factors, it's important to take advantage of every opportunity you get to spend time with your child and make the most of it.
The first part of doing this is grabbing their interest first.
For myself, I have found the best ways to grab their attention is to find things that I have in common with them or show a genuine interest in the things they like or may be involved with. Unfortunately, teens tend to feel they really don't have anything in common with their parents, or the parents just can't seem to grasp what it's like to be a teenager in today's society. This is why you need to show them you're not the person from the “dark ages" as they may think and to do this, you need to listen, learn, and pay attention to what they have going on in their world. If you can manage to do this, you could be well on your way to being the “cool" but responsible parent they didn't know they had.
Now you're probably wondering how you are going to pull this off. . Don't worry. . .
I will give you an example. My teenage son has a big interest in stereo sound systems, so one day I just started asking him questions about stereos and sure enough, his face lit up like a Christmas tree. . In fact, I couldn't get him to stop talking. At the start of our conversation, I had little knowledge about this subject, but at the same time it was a complete joy just to be talking with my teen and have him actually open up and I learned a few things too. My main focus was to get him to engage in a conversation with me and by asking just a couple short questions about something he really had a passion for, he opened up. Before I knew it, he was bringing me magazines, pictures, and even took me to the computer to show me all sorts of things. Before long, we went from discussing stereo systems to all kinds of things. This approach has worked magic for me, so I suggest to other parents to find what peaks your teen's interest the most and roll with it. This is the time to keep it light and keep things fun. Your goal is to open the lines of communication again with your teen rather than leaving them closed. Once you have managed to show your teen that you are interested in the little things that mean to so much to them, they will be more apt to come to you with bigger issues they have going on in their life. Especially once they realize that they have one of the coolest parents around. At this point, your most likely asking yourself “Where do I find the time?" Timing is the biggest trick for parents and finding the most opportune moment is key. While your teen may not have several hours to devote to talking with mom and dad, there are probably more times in your day than you realize in which you can utilize to communicate with your teen.
In fact, it only takes just a few minutes to get a lot of information passed along. The simplest way to find the time might be the car ride to and from school, at breakfast time, or dinner etc. . Keep in mind that the car ride may not be the best time to get into heavy conversation, but a great chance to find out what they have planned for their day and to get a feel for what their mood is. Meal times tend to provide a more relaxed setting, which means if you have more than one child, you can talk to them as a family unit rather than targeting one of them out. This is also a good time to address light topics that pertain to ALL of your children such as homework, chores, etc. Sometimes talking as a group relaxes everyone and for the teen that thinks his parents are always on his back, it's a perfect time to discuss minor things in a way that the teen doesn't feel he/she is alone or being singled out. Choosing the right time and place to talk to your teen is always important. If the topic of conversation is related to only your teen, be sure to have that discussion when it's only you and your teen present.
Participating in a one-on-one activity they like is also a good time for what they may consider a private discussion. Sometimes it's not anything heavy they wish to discuss, but they have the need to maintain their privacy and don't always want their business (no matter how minor the topic) open for a group discussion. It's all part of them gaining their independence. When our children were younger, they were literally on our heals for the attention, but in this NEW period of their life, they appear as if they don't need it or want it anymore and they are constantly pushing us away, But don't be fooled. . !
They “still" very much need us and need to know we are there for them. The transition from child to adult can be a trying time for both the teen and the parents. They may need you more then ever as they complete this journey, but their needs will be that of a different level. So get on their level and relate with them. Be there for them and most of all LOVE them for who they are becoming.
This article was written by Tammy Pinarbasi, Owner of the Parent Super Site, http://www.parentsupersite.com
You are welcome to use this article, however, a link back to this site would be appreciated. Thank you!