When’s the last time you had a sincere, engaging conversation with your teen? Once puberty hits, hormones will have your kids crying on your shoulder one second, and slamming the door in your face the next. Don’t fret – remember how you felt when you were that age? It’s not easy dealing with responsibilities and expectations while keeping all your emotions in check. The solution is definitely not to just let them go through it on their own, either. These are the years that you should stand right by your child’s side, making sure they know you have their backs no matter what. It won’t be easy if you guys don’t have the best relationship, but there are plenty of little things you can do to show them your willingness to work on it with them. These small acts aren’t groundbreaking, but they’re simple ways to remind your teen how much you love them and make use of the time you can still spend with them before they’re all grown up. Don’t look back ten years from now with regret – do something about it now!
1. Write a Letter
Photo Source: The Odyssey Online
A letter is a great way to show affection and remind your teen that they’re on your mind even if you don’t spend a lot of time together. Plan out a few things you want to say before you start writing, and feel free to come up with more than one draft. Stay on a positive note by bringing up recent accomplishments and fun memories. Leave it somewhere you know they’ll find it, like taped up on their mirror or near their computer. With any luck, they might even write back!
Photo Source: Writings of Life
Make an agreement to spend thirty minutes without your phones, really engaged with one another. Quality time is critical, but it’s easy to get distracted with all the different forms of contact we have these days. Whether it’s eating breakfast or walking the dog, you’ll appreciate having real eye contact and your teen will love knowing all your attention is on them. Don’t just do it as a one time thing, either. Set up one of these mini-dates each week and make sure to hold each other accountable for keeping up with them.
3. Look at Old Photos
Photo Source: A Healthy Slice of Life
Reminisce on something you both have in common: family. Pull out some photo albums from when your child was still a baby, when their first tooth came out, and their first days of school. If you have some of when you were younger, grab those and compare them! Finding similarities is a great way to get your teen to open up when they’re a little reluctant to hang with you in the first place.
4. Let Them Teach You Something
Photo Source: Wired
Let your teen take the spotlight for a bit. Ask them to teach you about something they’ve been into recently. Of course, this means you have to pay closer attention to what little they might tell you in the first place, but that’ll just make you a better parent than you already were. If they know how to play an instrument you don’t, ask them to teach you a few notes. Or, if they keep talking about the same artist at dinner, have them show you some of their work. It’s remarkable how people respond when you show that you truly hear them and care about what makes them happy.
5. Cook Together
Photo Source: Home Chef
Eventually, all kids have to leave the nest and make a life of their own, so you might as well send them with all the preparation you can. See if your teen would like to learn how to cook their favorite dish of yours the next time you make it. This gives you a chance to ask them what’s going on in their life while giving them a skill they’ll be grateful for in the future. Be patient and remember you’re focusing on creating fresh, sweet memories.