On our last sailing adventure Drew & I had the pleasure of hosting a marriage & family therapist. I picked her brain like I Iwas a patient in her office and she was gracious enough to comply. While we were enjoying the wind in our hair at the bow of the boat, she referenced that some parenting is common sense. 21st century parents have too often gotten away from some basics that connect us to our teenagers. I would say the 3 tips I will offer today would fall in the “common sense” category. However, if you’re like me, life can get hectic and it’s easy for the basics to take a backseat in exchange for activities that on the surface are deemed important. Activities like sports, school and hanging out with friends are critical for development. They help to create a well rounded teenagers. However, if you and your teen are so busy you don’t ever get a change to connect, then you’re both too busy! Here are 3 things you can do today to show your teen you love them and desire to connect with them.
- Give Your Teen a Hug: This may sound odd, especially to the parent that naturally gives lots of hugs. So I’ll be the parent in the back of the room raising her hand to say, I forget to hug my teenagers sometimes. I actually had to make it a personal goal to initiate a hug with my teens at least once a week. This is embarrassing to admit, but if you can relate then know you’re not alone. Initially some of my kids didn’t fully welcome the affection. However, given time they are all open to my hugs and do a ton of hug-initialing!
- Sit Down to Dinner as a Family: By now this may not come as a surprise to you, but I had to make this a goal too. We had gotten away from family dinners. Once I began to have multiple drivers and each kid in an extracurricular activity, dinner was often on the go. Between picking up from soccer and dropping off to piano, we’d often hit a drive thru or grab what was left of the counter for family members to eat as they arrived home. I started small, with one night a week as designated family dinner night. We’d all sit down. We’d do a conversation starter. And, we’d eat TOGETHER. Last week we were able to eat together 4 times Monday thru Friday. That’s still rare, but it shows progress!
- Take your Teen Out to Lunch: Pick them up from school & have a lunch date. If that won’t work, stop into a Starbucks for an after school treat. Do something out of the ordinary from your regular routine to let them know you value them and you want to spend one on one time with them! Make sure you sit down together and have some conversation questions ready to go. They may not be very chatty at first, but if you continue to make this a practice, they will open up.
I could keep going, but these suggestions are a great place for your to begin. Teenagers want to be loved, heard and valued by their parents. Parents desire the same from their teenagers. These 3 suggestions are an excellent way to reconnect with your teen and show them how much you love and value them.