Having a teenager in your house is hard sometimes. The teens want independence, yet they still need a strong relationship with their parents. It’s up to you to build the closeness with your teen that they so desperately need. It helps to have easy ways to connect with your high school teen.
After dealing with four teenagers myself, I know that building closeness is one of those things that’s easier said than done. It takes patience and availability. It also takes the willingness to sit and listen to your child wax poetic about ideas and concepts you left behind decades ago. But in the end, it's all worth it when you're able to hold onto the heart of your child.
7 Ways to Connect with Your High School Teen
Considering how much teenagers complain about chores, working together is a great way to connect with your high school teen. Folding laundry, washing dishes, or doing yard work puts you in the same area for an extended time. Chores give you a chance to chat.
I must confess that washing dishes is my favorite work activity to do with my kids. I wash. A child dries.
And when it’s just the two of us, my child who’s drying the dishes tells me about their life. My son chats about his favorite video game; my daughter will give me an update on drama with her friends. Or I’ll hear my child tell me about plans for an amazing future.
Working together is an amazing opportunity for connecting with your teenager. So don’t just assign your child chores and walk away; go and do the chores with your teen. You’ll find it opens the door to incredible conversations.
Along with working together, invite your teenager to help you cook. It could be breakfast, lunch, or even Thanksgiving dinner. Cooking together offers a non-threatening time to have a conversation.
Now don’t try to have a heart-to-heart right off the bat. Instead, ask how a specific class is going. Do they enjoy chemistry labs? Has anything exploded yet?
You can also enjoy a light conversation about how vanilla beans are grown or what your favorite dish is and why.
The goal isn’t to have a heart-to-heart conversation to connect with your kids. Instead, it’s to slowly build a bridge, strut by strut, until you have a connection with each other.
Eat Together to Connect with Your Teen
Another great way to connect with your kids goes right along with cooking together. Sit down to eat a meal together. There’s a reason so many dates involve food. Eating is a natural ice breaker and a wonderful way to connect with the people around you.
So sit down at the dinner table several times a week. Chat with your kids and ask them how their day went. And don’t be afraid to dive into obscure topics.
Some of those conversations spark fascinating glimpses into our children’s lives.
As you’re working to connect with your kids, remember to listen sympathetically. Don’t try to have all the answers and don’t try to solve your children’s problems. Your teenagers aren’t toddlers anymore.
They need to know you have their back. That you’ll listen respectfully and contemplate what they’ve said.
Also, don’t be afraid to mirror back their emotions to them. This means that instead of trying to solve their problem, you’ll say, “That sounds so difficult.” Then let your child talk and decide on a solution.
They might even ask you for your opinion!
Ask Before Giving Advice
If you do have advice that’s pertinent to the problem, ask your teen if they’d like advice before just giving it to them. Often kids would like to hear what you think. They just want the freedom to act as they believe best.
And sometimes kids just want to vent. They need sympathy and commiseration before they’re ready to receive advice and look for solutions.
Give your child the love they need. Later, your child will be ready to hear your advice.
Go On Dates Together to Connect with Your High School Teen
Plan dates with your children where it’s just you and them. You can take them to hear their favorite band. Watch a play together. Head to their favorite restaurant for a private dinner with just you and your child.
Or even better, invite your spouse along and give your child the gift of undivided parental attention.
Make the time special and don’t talk about any controversial subjects. Your goal is to simply enjoy each other’s company and relax.
If you’re not up for dates together, you can still participate in your child’s favorite activities. Go to their sports matches. Listen to their favorite music in the car.
Or try my favorite way to connect, which is to play your teen’s favorite video games.
For some reason, my kids love it when I play the same video games they play. I get advice, commentary, and sympathy when I lose badly and often. It also gives us something to talk about that’s not about the future, school, or chores.
So you can either plan regular dates with your teenagers or enjoy their favorite activities with them. Both are great ways to connect with your high school teen.
The most important aspect of connecting with your teenager is the ability to be available to them. Don’t be lost on the computer, talking on the phone, or rushing out of the house all the time.
Your kid needs to know that you’re there and ready to listen to them. That they can count on you. So look for times when you can easily fold availability into your life.
For instance, you can chat in the car instead of listening to music. You can let your kids know that you’re always ready to put down your book for a conversation. Or join them on a walk when they need to talk.
While connecting with your teenagers isn’t the easiest task in the world, it’s also not an impossible one either.
Take some time to get to know your child, chat about their favorite activities, and listen to their problems sympathetically. And if your teenager is having a bad day, do something crazy to help the two of you reconnect, de-stress, and enjoy each other's company.
Also, make sure that you’re available to your children at times throughout the week.
Because in the end, building a bridge of connection with your teenager means you are there waiting on the other side.
Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School has an entire chapter on communicating with your teen and keeping that connection strong. Take a look here: Save Your Sanity.