Remember the days when our kids looked at us with complete adoration and love? When we were all they needed and hand-written notes declaring ‘You r the bestest mum/dad in the hole world’ would regularly be posted to our bedside tables? The days when hanging out with us was their favourite thing to do? In fact, they loved hanging out with us so much that it was tricky to find time for the luxury of a hot cuppa! But now you find yourself in the season of parenting a teen, and the state of play may be somewhat different. As parents, we want nothing more than to build connection and relationship with our teens. And we absolutely still can! It will just look a little different from those early days, when feeding the ducks and stopping by your local cafe for a fluffy were enough to make their little hearts sing.
Oh what we would do to hear our teen speak the words, “You are my favourite person”, or maybe have them ask “What would you do in this situation? I need your help, oh wise one!” (Too far?) What a dreamy thought to be invited into their hearts and world – the places that are so readily being shaped daily by sub-cultures, friendships and, of course, technology.
So how do we maintain our influence and continue to build connection and relationship? Notice I put the onus on ‘we’, rather than insisting on effort from our teens to meet us halfway in the relationship. (I mean if they cared, surely they would want to unload the dishwasher in the morning or keep their bedroom tidy, wouldn’t they? Nope, we’re not going to go there.) Instead, I want to invite you to ponder the idea that it is our challenge as parents to pursue our kids, even on the days when their behaviour is challenging. It’s on us! And that’s an amazing privilege.
Here are three ideas to help you stay connected with your teenager, or to reconnect if you’re feeling a little distanced.