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Stay Connected with Your Teen

by Michele | September 15th, 2010 | Teens

My oldest child started high school this fall. Although every time a child advances from one school to another, it is a change, this is the one where I have felt the greatest difference. I anticipated that his schedule would be busy, that his social, school, and sports lives would take even greater priority, and that his dependence on parents would lessen, except for driving, of course. What I didn’t recognize was how much I would feel that he has become an independent young man.

A typical school day for him is quite full: up at 5:30, off to school at 6:35, school, football practice until 6:30. Then he’s home, but the evening is filled with dinner, homework, and connecting socially via texts. Granted, I see him in the morning and evening, and he’s more than glad to tell me about his day, but it’s different. I am glad that the transition has gone so well for him. He is involved in school activities, has new friends, and generally is enjoying life at school. It just takes a little getting used to him not being home as much.

Weekends take on their own flow. Sometimes there is a Saturday football game, or he may have a babysitting job. Then there are social outings: going to the mall, hanging out with friends. Sure, if there are important family events, he is here. However, I also understand that having a friend over is a little more exciting than grocery shopping with Mom. That doesn’t mean that I’m not seeking new ways to have one-on-one time with him. Therefore, I am trying some new ideas:

  1. Have a set family dinner night. In our house, Wednesday night is best. Everyone is home from sporting/school events, and neither my husband nor I schedule work meetings for after 7:00 on that day. This is the one night of the week that we can sit around the table for a little longer and chat.
  2. Take your child shopping. No, I am not advising that in order to spend time with your child you need to spend money. However, if your child is saving for a special purchase, offer to drive her to the mall to pick up that item. Go ahead and splurge on a soda in the food court and take some time to talk.
  3. Tuck them in at bedtime. Ok, your child probably doesn’t need to be tucked in, but you still can spend a few minutes in his bedroom at that time. By this time, electronics have been turned off (or should have been) and homework is done. Take a seat, and see where the conversation leads.
  4. Send a text. Teens love texting. So, be part of the conversation. If your child is on the bus heading to a sporting event, send a text wishing him luck. If your child sends a text to you because practice ended early, reply and add an “I love you”.
  5. Let them know you always have time. I know, it’s easier said than done. Your child’s need may not correspond with the best time in your day, but if she is seeking you, do your best to accommodate. If that means that dinner is 10 minutes late so you can discuss an issue with friends, then dinner is late. If you absolutely can’t talk at that time, find a time that will work for both of you later that same day.

While it’s important to let your child spread his wings and grow, it’s also important that you stay connected. These strategies are working for us. If you have others, please share.

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I agree 100% with talking at bedtime. Recently, my almost-teen seemed upset. Though she didn’t share it while the family watched tv together after dinner, I thought maybe some one-on-one time would help. When she went to bed, I simply sat on the side of her bed. She sat down next to me, started to cry, and poured out her story. Just spending 10 minutes in her room listening seemed to make her feel much better, and allowed me to be more involved.

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