By Sacha Kaluri.
Being a parent of teenagers who just want to live their own lives can be hard work. If you’ve been feeling a bit out of touch with your teenagers lately, it is possible to reconnect with the children who were once your babies.
In my job visiting schools around Australia and talking to teenagers, I’ve learned that young people want to connect with their parents, but they also want space to be independent and find themselves.
Young people need to be reminded – and often – how much you love them and that you do remember what it was like to be a teenager. This is a great time for parents to personally reflect on your own teenage years (without necessarily relaying your stories to your teens).
6 tips to help you reconnect with your teenager
- Talk to them in their time, not yours. Communicate with them when they are free and in the mood, not just when you have time.
- Get involved in their life without being too involved. If they have a sport, go and watch, then talk about it later. If they play a computer game, give it a go with them.
- Show an interest in what they are doing. Get your teenager to explain what they have been a part of or what they have learned.
- Have their friends over at your place often. Make sure you create a time and a place for them to have space in your home. Even if it means they have the lounge while you watch TV in the bedroom. They live there too and have a right to space as well.
- Encourage your teenagers to be friends with your friends and family. Making sure they have good adult conversation with people you trust is vital. They will often ask them for advice and you can make sure they have good sound advice. Good adult mentors are essential to a young person. You don’t want them getting all their advice from their friends.
- Be a mentor to one of their friends. If one of their friends needs advice, help them out. All teenagers love it when their friends think that their parents are great – but remember, you are in a parenting role and they are not your friends.
Some final words about point 5 above – although many young people crave adult interaction and advice, they may not want it from their own parents. They are fresh into the young adult world and they just can’t help but think they know everything and that their parents don’t understand how they feel. If you are struggling to connect with your teen yourself, consider asking one of your trusted friends or a relative to be your voice. Make sure that other adult is someone your teenager relates to, and is someone that can offer good, sound advice to your teen.
About the author
In 2011, Sacha co-founded the Australian Teenage Expo, a large-scale youth event which last year attracted almost 8,000 visitors to the Melbourne Showground.
Australian Teenage Expo aims to provide everything a teen, parent or educator needs to know about in three key areas – Education, Services and Products.
The 2013 Australian Teenage Expo showbags will include a postcard from The Kids Are All Right with details on how to win an iPad Mini.