Fifty years ago, who would have thought we’d be using the word “strategies” in articles about parenting? And yet, here we are. Bonding with your teenager is important, and developing strategies to remain close through their tween and teen years isn’t only a noble endeavor,
Here are seven strategies for bonding with your teenager.
1. Give Them the Right Amount of Space
Teenagers are especially sensitive to micromanaging or helicopter parenting as they seek to gain independence. It’s good to know when to give them space. The key: knowing how much space to give without fostering a habit of isolation.
Try inviting your teen to join you instead of insisting on it. By allowing them the space to choose, they’ll be more likely to interact with the family genuinely and willingly.
2. Require Respect
Even when it comes to lighthearted banter between you and your teenager, never let it cross the line into disrespect. Requiring respect from your teen does a couple of things:
- It reminds them you’re still the parent.
- It sets healthy boundaries without being overly authoritative.
One great reminder, from Empowering Parents, “…be respectful when you correct your child.” By modeling respect, you can confidently require it from your teen in return. This is a crucial for staying close to your teen in the most balanced way possible.
3. Invest in What They Enjoy
A key way to enhancing bonding with your teenager is to learn which activities excite them and invest in those. This will go a long, long way towards strengthening your connection.
In this Washington Post article, Six Ways Parents Can Stay Connected with Their Teen Sons, author Phyllis Fagell states, “When parents demonstrate genuine curiosity about their child’s passions, they are more likely to establish a strong connection.”
Even if their interests are boring to you, take time to invest in them for the sake of establishing a strong bond. Doing so will give you insight into their thinking and passions.
4. Step Out of the Ordinary
Be spontaneous. Step out of the ordinary and shake things up. Pick your teen up early from school and surprise them with a fun outing. Some ideas: schedule a weekend getaway, or attend a college athletic event or theater production. Chances are, your teen will remember those times well into the future.
5. Don’t Overreact
Perhaps, this strategy should have been listed as #1. Overreacting is the quickest way to distance yourself from your teenager. Even when you’re alarmed by something they’ve said or done, take a few minutes to calm down before addressing the issue.
Hand in Hand Parenting says, “Often, and especially once our children get older, we are tempted to focus on all the things that are going wrong, not being done, or could be improved.” No matter what, try your best to remain reasonable and rational in every situation. Don’t focus on the negative and don’t overreact.
6. Make Your Home a Safety Zone
With all of the pressures teens face, they need to have one place that’s as stress-free as possible. Strive to make your home a “safety zone” for them. Create an atmosphere of peace and calm whenever possible.
Even if they don’t appreciate it now, a strong sense of security will be developed in knowing their home is always a safe place to reside.
7. Go the Extra Mile
Show your teen you’re present, on their side and in their corner. This will convey your love and support.
Strengthening the bond between you and your teen is one of the biggest gifts you can give to them, and yourself.