Raising teenagers can be a painful experience – ouch! You want a close relationship with them, but they make it so hard to get close when they display disrespect and disobedience towards you. This “back-and-forth” causes the rift to widen each day in your relationship with your teen.
Remember the good ol’ days when your teen was little, and he would turn to you for everything? It was so simple to discipline him using rewards and consequences, and even easier to forgive him because he was so cute. But as you child grows into a teenager, he seems to want to do the exact opposite of what you say, he argues about everything and cares more about reaching out to his friends, playing a video game or being on his phone. If you even try to probe into his life, you’re often met with disdain and disinterest and receive responses such as, “nothing” or “I don’t know.”
So how do you get through to teenagers without making them feel as if you’re stepping on their toes? The biggest parenting tips for raising teens is to use tons of love and time on them. How? Read 5 steps to improve your relationship with your teen:
1. Show Your Teen Love
Show your teenager how much you love him through your actions. Giving him hugs, tousling his hair, and smiling at him is often an excellent way to start. I know it’s hard at times when all you want to do is grab him by the shirt and shake some sense into him, but remembering that this is an awkward phase in both your lives and it will soon pass, will give you that extra dose of patience.
It is important to discover what gets through to your teen so you can use that. Some ideas would include, showing him affection often, giving him a thoughtful gift sometimes, making his favorite meal or dessert and saying you did it especially for him, or simply expressing encouragement and praise for the things he does.
2. Give Your Teen Time
A teenager also recognizes love as the time you spend with her and the family as a whole. It may seem that taking part in family activities is not what she wants to do, but that time spent together will help keep her connected to you and rest of the household. She needs this family time to thrive but doesn’t know it herself.
Spending one-on-one interaction time with your teenager is another good idea. Take her to do something fun together, like going out for coffee or to her favorite restaurant. A teen girl would love to go shopping, go for a spa day with mom, or get a new hairstyle. I know this may seem like you’re spoiling her when she doesn’t deserve it, but setting this “girl-time” will give her something to look forward to and spread good memories together. The key is to choose to do something she will enjoy as a young lady, and there are tons of options without spending a cent as well.
3. Listen to Your Teen
Let your teen know that you are always willing to listen to him. When you say phrases like, “I’m here for you” or “I would love to hear about your day,” you are letting him know you support him. Do not put any pressure on him to talk and to answer multiple questions. Be a good listener and allow your teen to problem-solve. In other words, if your teen seems troubled, ask him one of the above questions and wait for him to answer. Show him that you are listening, but don’t chime in with any solutions. When you ask him casually more questions, he will work on problem-solving it himself. Afterward, you can subtly add your advice to his solution, so he doesn’t feel as if you are telling him what to do.
If your teen feels that you are railroading him with advice and lectures, especially after he is opening up, he may start tuning you out. I know that tends to be difficult to control when your instinct as a parent is screaming otherwise, but being subtle and talking when the timing is right will get better results when communicating with your teen.
4. Be Real With Your Teen
As you try to understand your teen, let your teen understand you. She will feel that she can relate to you more when she understands that you had similar feelings and confusion at her age. When you share some relevant teen stories or events of your own, you are showing her what you were like before you were a parent. This will make your teen feel more comfortable sharing her stories with you because she’ll feel that it is normal and won’t cause you any shock.
Even better, admit the mistakes of your past and relate the life experiences you’ve gained from it. Showing your teen that you are human and have weaknesses too, will make her admire you as a person who has the courage to admit her faults. She will also feel more comfortable knowing that you are not perfect either and that your mistakes made you wiser.
5. Be an Example to Your Teen
Teenagers don’t think of their parents as role models because they think their parents are too judgmental and unconcerned about their young lives. Your teen will place a higher value on “being real” (as mentioned in #4), even if he doesn’t always live that way. Remember your teen is watching everything you do and say. He will observe how you handle ethical situations and how you treat other people. Teens look to see if you are doing what you say they should be doing.
This might be the hardest step for a parent to do because we want our child to be the ideal example of ourselves, yet we forget that we can’t ask our kid to do what we cannot do. That’s why it pays to be respectful toward your teenager and not be condescending when addressing him, even when you disagree.
It is possible to have a healthy relationship with your teenager, don’t believe otherwise or think she is too selfish to care. She cares way more than you think, as she is at a most sensitive stage in her development. What you say negatively to your teen will cut deep even though she won’t admit it.
Work on strengthening your relationship with your teenager and leave the door of communication wide open. Also, continue to show her your love, even when she pulls away. Lastly, keep setting aside time to spend with her on your own and as a family. InshAllah with time, the teen phase shall pass, but at least you won’t bear the guilt of feeling that as a parent you didn’t try, or that you failed because you gave up. Allah SWT also reminds us that our children are a test for us, and we will receive our reward one day.
“Your wealth and your children are only a trial, whereas God, with Him is a great reward (Paradise).” (Quran 64:15)