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How To Bond With Your Emotionally-Distant Teenager

If you're like every other parent, you don't always bond with your teenager. He might create distance between you just at the times when you most long to become closer. He might be busy on the computer, the phone, with his friends, or homework. When you try to talk to him, he doesn't listen, or just leaves the room. He thinks that you are embarrassing, and you don't know how to change that.

Despite your best intentions and efforts, creating a meaningful bond with your adolescent isn't always easy. But, you're not alone. A feeling of distance between parent and teenager is a normal part of development, but you don't have to feel like you're losing your son or daughter. By putting in just a little bit of effort, you can re-bond with your adolescent. 

Here are some tips to help you bond with your emotionally-distant teenager:

1. Ask your adolescent to teach you how to produce an online photo gallery. Most young people today were raised in the digital age and are skilled when it comes to anything technological. Why not bond over lessons on how to make a digital photo gallery or a family webpage or blog?

2. Communicate the way your teen prefers (e.g., email, text message, instant message, or non-embarrassing post on his favorite social media website). It may be easier for him to discuss sensitive subjects electronically, without having to face you, even if it feels impersonal to you.

3. Create a routine that involves being in the same place at the same time. Preparing dinner together every night or at least once a week will give you both something to do together without much pressure. Any household chores or mundane task that allows you to be with each other, but that doesn't require a lot of thought or conversation, can create a comfortable zone that allows your adolescent to open up to you, even if the discussion is about random things. Teenagers tend to feel more comfortable talking to you when they don't have to look at you, such as while driving.

4. Discuss movies. Whether you're talking about a classic favorite or one of today's hottest films, sharing your taste in movies is another way to bond with your adolescent.

5. Don’t make your teen wrong. Just because your teen wants to do things differently does not make her wrong necessarily. For example, while most moms and dads want their teenagers to go to college, maybe they not interested right now. If your teen does not want to go to college, instead of being dismayed, see if you can strike a compromise. Perhaps she can work part-time and go to school part-time. Or perhaps instead of a miscellaneous degree, she can attend a technical school. When it comes to teens, sometimes letting go a little allows them to grow a lot.

6. Encourage your adolescent to have a healthy self-esteem by telling him at least one positive thing about him each day. Ask him to name something he likes about himself or feels confident about in addition to what you named to reinforce a positive self-image.

7. Enjoy her favorite sitcom and watch it with her every week.

8. Get to know your teen’s friends by spending time with her and her closest friends. Take her and one or two of her closest friends for pedicures, shopping or attend a new class (e.g., pottery, jewelry making, cooking). Finding a common activity that you can share with your adolescent and her friends will likely earn you a few points with everyone as long (as you don't intrude or embarrass her).

9. Give your teen some responsibility. You may wonder, as a mother or father, how giving your teen some responsibility is a way to reconnect with her. If done in the right manner and not as a command or an order, giving your teen responsibility around the house shows her that you trust her. It may be something as simple as picking up her younger sister after school or going to the post office if she is newly licensed. Small gestures of responsibility give her a feeling that you view her as a young woman now. This will instill a sense of pride and gratitude to you for trusting her more and more now.

10. Give your teen some space. In any relationship, sometimes a little space is necessary. It is no good to be on top of someone else in an effort to make them see things your way or to gain control. If you take some time and step away and keep it casual, chances are more than likely your teen will seek you out if you give her the opportunity to.

11. Go to her practices, recitals or sporting events and cheer for her. She may not acknowledge your presence, though she most likely wants you there for support (as long as you aren't embarrassing her).

12. Learn how to play one of his favorite video games and play with him.

13. Make yourself available to your adolescent. Hang out in a common area of your home or establish a routine where you are clearly available at the same time every day or the same night each week so your teenager knows where to find you if - and when - she needs to talk.

14. Plan at least one outing or activity with your adolescent each month. Take turns planning the activity so he has some control over what you do. Give him a budget and time frame and allow him to choose where you go or what you do. This allows you to learn more about each other's interests and might surprise you both.

15. Share a book. If your teenager is an avid reader, as him to recommend a few books you might like, too. Read one and see what new conversations you can initiate as a result.

16. Share some music. Adolescents feel things deeply, and they often connect with their emotions through music. Ask your teenager to share a few of her favorite songs with you and keep an open mind about what you're hearing.

17. Share some of your interests with your adolescent. She might relate to you more when you let her know about a few of the mistakes you made as an adolescent. She might want to get to know “the real you” more if you begin sharing your hobbies and interests that go beyond the mother or father.

18. Take a short road trip and let your teen drive. This is perfect for the adolescent with a new driver's license. The destination could be anywhere, but venturing out to any fun spot of your adolescent's choosing would fit the bill for an afternoon of bonding. It could be as easy as regular practice sessions in the country or on city streets so that your teen can perfect her driving skills.

19. Take an interest in your adolescent and her hobbies.

20. Talk to your adolescent and go beyond simple "how was your day?" questions. Ask him how he feels about current events, or educate yourself on something he enjoys and ask him about it (avoid personal questions that will most likely cause him to shut you out).

As a mother or father, you may fear that years of being a disciplinarian has negatively affected your relationship with your teenager. Use the tips listed above to press the "reset" button and renew your bond with your adolescent.

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

This made me cry because it's everything both my mom and dad wouldn't do and never did

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