Welcome to being the parent of a teenager! Be prepared for a large amount of eye rolling, emotional outbursts and thoughts of running away… and that’s just from you!

No seriously, more often than not it will feel as if you’re running a bed and breakfast instead of a family! They come, they eat, they leave… right? Yep, home is often simply a pit stop for older kids and meaningful conversations could become as rare as snow in Africa.

As teens become more independent, they often spend more time away from home (or behind closed doors!) Sound familiar? The first thing to do is to take a deep breath and understand that pulling away from parents is not only normal, but also a necessary developmental stage of adolescence. But truthfully, navigating this transition towards independence can be a challenge.

Yes, there will be times that your child will only vaguely resemble the sweet, adorable little person on the baby photos, and it would be easier to check out as a parent (and many parents do!), but you will be missing out on priceless opportunities to influence your child as well as on building a relationship that would last a lifetime.

So, throughout this metamorphosis, never lose the link between the two of you. We have a few ideas on how to breach the barriers of adolescence:

  • Talk about your day. This could spark a conversation and open the door to hearing about theirs.
  • Eat together; share your highs and lows.
  • Be there. You’ll never know when they’re ready to talk. Your presence will give them stability, security and comfort.
  • Choose your battles. Doing themselves harm or doing something that could be permanent (like a tattoo), those things matter. A messy room or purple hair – those things don’t matter. Don’t nit-pick.
  • Seize every moment. When they come to you, give them your undivided attention.
  • No interrogating, no directing, no sneaky probing. They will sniff out manoeuvring motives and instantly shut you out.
  • Follow their lead. Look for opportunities to pursue new interests. Take a yoga class together if maybe the white river rafting didn’t work out! Or, do a marathon together for a good cause.
  • Talk to him/her like an adult, with respect, and make it clear that you value their opinions and expect respect in return.
  • Validate their feelings and show empathy.
  • Welcome their friends; you might see more of them.
  • Create rituals, maybe pancake Sundays?
  • Keep it real. “When you’re doing activities with your teen, keep your expectations realistic,” says psychological associate Janet Morrison, “which means low.”
  • Tell their stories. Share sweet, funny stories of when they were small – they will experience a sense of belonging, of being connected to you.
  • Say: “I love you” often. Not as a reward but just because you are glad that this child is part of your life. Leave a sweetie on her bed or a guitar magazine on your son’s pillow. Just because.

These are magical, frustrating, insane, hilarious years. And, (believe it or not), so very short.

So, spend all of your time developing love, trust and transparency with your older kids. Keep them close, love them, and laugh with them. Listen to their dreams and fears when it is least convenient. And know that those moments will come with regularity if you stay connected.

Source: childmind.org, www.usnews.com, villageconnector.com, za.pinterest.com, www.ahaparenting.com, raisingchildren.net.au, onetimethrough.com, www.todaysparent.com, www.huffingtonpost.com, www.metroparent.com, www.foxnews.com, www.brighthorizons.com, www.webmd.com, jenhatmaker.com

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.