I know first-hand that parenting a teen can be challenging at best.
It often involves a balance of offering the right amount of guidance with providing enough freedom to make mistakes.
Fortunately, I learned a thing or two as I parent my own teenagers – and along the way, they’ve commented on what they like and need from me as a parent.
I’m passing on these 7 proven tips for an improved relationship with your teen:
1. Be clear on the rules.
Your teen needs you to be a parent before being a friend.
For teenagers, rules mean you care about their health, safety, and well-being.
By the same token, rules should not be arbitrary or unreasonable. You should be able to explain to your teen how the rules promote their best interests. And what the consequences are for breaking them.
This makes it more likely your teen will buy into the rules and make wiser choices.
For some really good examples of house rules for teenagers, check out this recent post.
2. Give them the freedom to make mistakes.
Teens need plenty of opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. This is how they learn to develop good judgment.
Though it can be difficult, it’s important to refrain from swooping in and running to the rescue too soon. Especially if you want your teen to be self-reliant and resilient.
Teens also tend to resent not being trusted to make certain decisions. So, when you’ve clearly communicated the rules and consequences, you can (fingers crossed!) let go and trust – and be there as backup.
3. Sit and truly listen.
Like all of us, teens want to be listened to with respect. And they hate to be interrupted.
Therefore, it’s important to be an available resource to your teen who can feel comfortable expressing viewpoints and feelings.
Of course, you don’t need to agree with everything. First, just listen. Then, your teen will be more likely to listen to you.
4. Be the wind beneath their wings.
Teens are determined to find their own way as they navigate the social scene and develop friendships.
And pulling away from their parents is a natural reaction.
By the same token, teens are not likely to admit they still need you waiting in the wings to offer guidance and catch them if they fall.
5. Teach by example.
If you want your teen to be responsible, respectful, and kind, make sure you “walk the walk.”
You might also offer an example of a situation similar to one facing your teen. Explain how you handled it and how you might have handled it differently today.
On that note…
6. Let them know you’re not perfect.
Of course, parents aren’t perfect. Mistakes are par for the course in life. It’s what you learn from the mistake and what you do next.
Likewise, admit when you’re wrong. Your teen will be more likely to learn to own up to his or her own mistakes.
And even better if they learn to take responsibility for their part in a fight with a friend or a bad grade, instead of rushing to place all the blame on others.
7. Have regular (unplugged) alone time with your teen.
Any activity counts. Shopping, eating, bowling, working on an outdoor project that you both enjoy.
Relaxing and learning more about each other means the world to your teen.
What I’ve found is that it’s not just doing these 7 things; it’s how you do them – your commitment and authenticity – that ultimately brings you closer to your teen.
Please share this article with others who would find it useful.