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Relationship Woes – Staying Close to Your Teen

by Lori Sciame | March 23rd, 2011 | Teens

You’ve been through it all – colic, broken bones, first crushes – or so you think. There comes a time in every parent’s life when almost overnight your loving son or daughter becomes a moody teenager. You’ve always been close, but now you think your relationship is beginning to suffer. How do you keep a close relationship with your child once this “distancing” process begins?

The Search Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving communities for youth, offers a variety of ways to help parents navigate this turbulent time in a child’s life. One important way you can make sure you stay close to your child is to foster plenty of open communication.

The Institute’s Parent Further website suggests doing the following:

1. Expect all family members to share a meal together each day (or at least a few times each week).
2. Many children don’t like “just talking,” so be open to conversations while playing basketball, taking a hike through the woods, working on a service project, or driving in the car. Don’t always insist on eye contact if it seems to make your child uncomfortable.
3. Remember that everyone is comfortable with different situations; some kids may prefer talking in public places like restaurants, fitness centers, or parks, while others prefer the privacy of home.
4. Eliminate distractions during family times; turn the radio off when you’re driving, or play a board game instead of watching TV.
5. Designate a regular family time—have a weekly family night, a monthly family outing, or a daily check-in before bed. Do whatever works best for your family.
6. Try starting conversations in new ways—instead of always asking how school was, greet your child with a reflection about your own day, such as “Hey, it’s good to see you—something exciting happened at work today that I’ve been wanting to tell you about,” or “Tell me something exciting about your day.”
7. Unless what you’re doing is very important, be willing to stop and listen to your child when he or she has something to say. When you cannot stop to listen, explain the reason and make a plan to reconnect later. For example, you could say, “I want to hear more about this, but I’m running late for work. Will you tell me more about it during dinner tonight?”

It is important to remember to take advantage of all opportunities for communication with your teenager. Now that your son or daughter is spending more time away from you – at school, with friends, or playing sports – your time to interact is limited. Above everything else, strive to be positive about both trivial and heavy issues.

3 Quick Tips to Stay Close
1. Take time to listen.
2. Give hugs (when appropriate).
3. Let your child know you’re proud of him or her.

Yes, it’s hard to be the parent of a moody teenager, but remember, it’s equally hard to be a teenager! If you love, support, and listen to your child, both of you will survive.

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