How In The World?
“How am I supposed to be connecting with my son when all he wants to do is play computer games or sports?” “How am I supposed to be connecting with my daughter when all she wants to do is listen to music, text her friends, and watch movies?”
Connecting with your teen when you have very different interests can be a challenge. You love art, they love sports. You love classical music, they love dubstep. You love reading books and quiet time while they love talking and hanging out with friends.
Whatever the case may be, if you feel like you are from different planets and the little person you use to share picnics and blow bubbles with is floating away. Know this. There is something you can do about it!
Connecting By Embracing This Time.
From the beginning, parenting has been an adventure. On this journey, you learned the magical powers of the binky, the astonishing impact of Oreos before bed, and the breathtaking speed that a clean room can transform into a pig sty!
When you first became a parent, you had, obviously, never done it before. More specifically, you had never parented this unique little person before. You had to get to know this little package of personality. It took time and focus to figure out the best way to connect with your baby, toddler, and grade schooler.
Your teen is still on the journey of growing up. Continuing to discover their own individual strengths and weaknesses. Your company and support are still required. As they keep learning about themselves you can continue to learn how to parent them. Do so wholeheartedly. They will be out the door before you know it. Embrace this time.
Connecting By Engaging.
Choose to be interested in your teens’ interests because they are!
You may be thinking to yourself, “Why should I be interested and engaged? She doesn’t care about what I am interested in.” or “He thinks what I am interested in is just dumb or boring!”
First, remember that your child is a teen. This means he or she is very self-absorbed right now. It’s just the way it is. There is so much growing going on inside of them. It is highly distracting! The result is that they are focused on their interests, their stresses, their world.
Second, you are the parent. It’s been your job to be engaged in your child’s life from the start. Just because they are more independent doesn’t mean you are done raising them. Teens need you engaged in their lives even more, not less. Even if they don’t act like it.
Third, you need to show your child by example how to think beyond themselves. Lead the way by: being fully present when spending time with your teen, choose to be interested in his or her world, and give your teen a chance to practice inviting someone unfamiliar with their interests into their world.
Steps To Get Connected: Make Time And Get involved.
- Invite your teen to teach you how to play their favorite computer game and play it with them.
- Ask your teenager to teach you how to play their favorite sport, if you are physically able. If not then have them teach you the rules, what the terms mean, and how a person scores, so you can understand it. (Sometimes we don’t like things because we don’t understand them.)
- Attend games and be their cheerleader. Even if you still don’t like the sport be interested in the sport because your child is interested in it.
- Enquire about what music they like. Ask if you can listen to it with them. Have them share with you what they like about their favorite songs.
- Enjoy the time your teen spends telling you how things work and why they like them. As they share the details you will learn more about how your child’s mind works and discover new ways in which they express themselves. This will provide you a chance to have more interactive dialogue with your teen other than, “Did you clean your room?” “How was your day?”
Caring Opens Doors to Important Conversations
Asking what it is that they like about these different sports, computer games, and music, shows your teen that you care. In doing so it opens doors to conversations about other things.
The important stuff about growing up is hard to talk about, especially if you don’t talk that much about other things that are important to them.
This is an exciting and scary time right now for your teen. They are trying to discover who they are and what they are made of. Having you reach out to them and be by their side will mean a lot. Even if they don’t show it right away. One day the lightbulb will go on and your young lady or young man will say, “Thanks for being there for me.”
Embrace. Engage. Connect. You’ve Got This!