It was freezing rain this one morning as my son and I hustled into the car to start our day. As we sat down, he noticed a thin layer of icy slush on the windshield. My son asked, “Will the wipers work or did you need me to scrape it off?” It seems like an everyday comment, but at that precise moment I felt an overwhelming sense of pride (and relief!) for my son. He was genuinely thoughtful!
My son is very much a typical teenager whose brain is still developing and enjoys his video games too much. But I sighed with a sense of relief because I felt the respect. I knew at that moment that we are building a good respectful relationship that will help carry us through any bumpy roads ahead.
Parents are very important in a teen’s life, even if it doesn’t feel that way at times. We know that parents who stay involved have teens that are more resilient, do well in school and enjoy being at home. These teens also are less likely to get involved in risky behaviours like drugs and alcohol.
Many of the strategies used when your teen was younger no longer seem appropriate, and rightfully so – after all, you are helping shape a young adult.
There are actions that parents can take to help build that strong parent-youth relationship. As you read through the next five actions, you’ll notice (and hopefully feel good about the fact) that none of it is “rocket science” or even new for that matter. You’re already doing it! Now you can simply be more intentional with some of the actions.
- Be connected
This means developing and maintaining a positive relationship. Be intentional about having conversations, but also be aware that your teen may not want to talk to you the moment they get home from school. Often family meals are a good time to talk. Teens also seem to like to chat before bed or even on car rides. Remember to try and listen more and not overreact at what your teen might say.
- Be involved
Include your teens in the decision making process. Share disappointments and celebrate effort – not only accomplishment. Also involve your teen from a young age with caring for the house, including chores. Stay involved with school; continue to have regular contact with teachers and the school community.
- Continue to monitor
This is a bit trickier as you are not usually around. So how do you do this? Start by setting clear limits and expectations by negotiating rules and responsibilities together. Get to know their friends and help them plan ahead. Talk about real concerns and have the “What if” conversation: “What if your friend offers you a drink? What if you lose your bus money?” Then brain storm solutions together, listen to your teen’s suggestions and come to an agreement on the plan.
- Be a good role model
Show kindness and respect. I always treat my kids the way I would like to be treated. Do what you say you will, keep your commitments and admit when you are wrong. Think, act and live with a positive outlook. Be aware, your kids are always watching you.
- Provide Support
Accept your teen for who they are, and continue to show warmth and love. When your child has an emotional outburst, help them learn to cope. Be sure to stay alert to signs your teen may be struggling and encourage them talk with a trusted adult or ask for help.
Feel confident in your parenting skills and as you continue on this amazing journey, try being intentional with these five actions. Research shows that by using them, it with help:
- build a strong parent-youth relationship
- youth become responsible, resilient and adaptable
- provide positive mental health
- develop strong decision making and problem solving skills
- reduce high-risk behavior & aggression
Share your stories about parenting a teen. We’d love to hear from you.
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.
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