I think we can all empathize with adolescents who are annoyed by their parents. To a point.
Most of us remember being annoyed by our parents as well, back when we were teens. But as a parent, you are on the other side of that equation - and empathy can only take you so far. At a certain point, you know that your teen has to engage with you, and you wish that they could at least show you a little appreciation for everything that you do for them. And, ideally, when you remind them of this, they could say "thank you"... without also rolling their eyes.
So, how do we get from eye rolling to genuine affection?
We work on building that relationship, on demonstrating genuine affection for one another. Yes, it comes from your side, too!
Looking back on the past month, ask yourself how many times your teenager has been disparaging of something you've said, either by vocalizing this or demonstrating a disrespectful attitude through their body language. Now, consider how many times you may have criticized one of their choices or offered a correction to choice they made that wasn't truly a huge concern.
When I collaborate with parents to work with their children and teens, I recognize that relationships are all about the back and forth. So below are a few suggestions for building a better, stronger relationship with your teen.
Tip #1: Choose your battles
Decide your priorities. Sometimes, I find that parents and their teenagers get into power struggles, and their relationship strains because of this. Notice arguments that happen again and again, and consider if there are some issues worth tabling. There's a difference between your teen coming home 5 hours after curfew vs. your teen just using a snotty tone.
Tip #2: Start a new family tradition
Taco Tuesdays! Board game night! Going to a new restaurant once a week! Monthly movie! Throwing more requirements at a teen who avoids you can be a struggle, but eventually the new requirement becomes a new tradition for the family.
Tip #3: Let them make some suggestions
Are you the only one who sees a problem, or does your teen also feel that your relationship could use some work? If they had the option, what would they want to address, and how would they address it? They may not be open to these questions, but give them a few opportunities to have an open conversation about this.
Tip #4: Leave them alone
Your teenager is already avoiding you - should you really let them have this much space? Sometimes, the answer is yes. Make an effort to include them in family events, and keep them updated on what you're doing that they can join, and then don't make it a big deal if they join or if they don't.
Tip #5: Take the pressure off of yourself
Every parent has some trouble in building a strong relationship with their teenager, but sometimes you can feel like the only parent in the world having this much difficulty. When you feel like the least effective parent EVER, that puts a lot of pressure onto an already strained relationship. Give yourself the permission to know that this is an ongoing process.
Tip #6: Practice your own self care
Finally, make sure that you have your own time set aside to manage stress for yourself. Incorporate mindfulness, meditation, exercise, or yoga into your own personal schedule. And, save time where you're not worrying about how to impact your relationship with your teen.
Our children and adolescents are so perceptive, they quickly pick up on our own concerns and issues. So, if we're able to cultivate a calm outlook on life, while still recognizing the areas for growth and development, this will impact the relationship as well.
These tips are just the starting point! If you would like to hear more, or if you think your relationship with your teen goes beyond the scope of what's covered here, contact Kelsey to set up your free 15-minute phone consultation. Kelsey works with teens from her office in Webster Groves, MO.