Remember as teenagers we felt as if our own parents didn’t understand, and we swore we’d be ‘cool’ as parents? The only problem is that now we are the parents, and we still feel disconnected from our teenagers. So, it seems, the pattern of teens pulling away from the parents does indeed repeat generation after generation. How do the parents of today’s Millennial and Generation X generation get them to put down the screens and talk to us? How do parents reconnect with their teenagers in the 21st century?
“It’s not easy because kids this age are pushing you away. They want to be independent,” Janet Morrison, a Toronto psychological associate.
Centralize the Television Set
Many families today have a TV set in every room (including the kid’s bedrooms), not to mention numerous computers and phones. When the screens are scattered all around the house, everyone is in separate rooms for long periods of time. The solution is to remove the TV’s, and just keep one in the family room or the den. This will bring the teens together and you can sit down and watch with them. The family time in front of the TV just gives everyone something to talk about together.
Family Time Not Screen Time
Do something that doesn’t require electronics. In fact, ban them from the family time so everyone can be ‘present’ in the moment to truly encourage interaction. Suggestions include riding bikes together, baking brownies, enjoy hot chocolate together, or play a game of Rummy. When you spend time together with your family without the ‘screens,’ there will be memories created that will last for a long time.
“Welcome Their Friends”
According to Morrison, welcoming your teen’s friends in your home will mean your own teens are home more. On top of that, she says:
“I’ve talked about all kinds of stuff — things that would have been a lot harder to talk about with my kids one-on-one — over breakfast with my kids’ friends. When your kids are forced to see you through their friend’s eyes, they realize that everything you say isn’t stupid.” – Morrison, 20 Ways to Reconnect with Your Teen
Learn to Listen More to Your Teen
One of the hardest things for me as a parent to do is to talk less and listen more, especially when it comes to my own teenagers. However, as parents we all need to show them the same respect we expect from them. If we want them to act responsibly like adults, then we need to show the same respect we do to our neighbors, friends, and other adults. As you learn to allow them to process through feelings without putting in your two-sense, your teen will learn the skills that will last a lifetime when presented with problems and issues.
Safety and Love
No matter what is going on with your teen or with yourself, and even if there is a heated disagreement, be sure he or she knows the love you have and that they are always safe with you.