How To Connect With Preteens And Teenagers

The preteen and teenage years are full of challenges. We all remember the acne, the awkwardness, the quest for popularity, the need to be free of parental rule and the list goes on.  As difficult as it is for the adolescents and those entering into adolescents it is sometimes even more difficult on their parents. Once an adorable baby or a cute toddler to your parents, now 12-17 year olds are these moody creatures who grunt answers, hide in their room and attempt to sleep through these years. At one time these kiddos cried when you left the room and jumped with joy when you returned. They hung onto your legs in uneasy situations and ran to you about everything. However, now that they are teenagers they cannot wait to get away from you and rush by as they enter the house without so much as a hello, half a grunt or a wave.

Sometimes it may feel as if there is a disconnect between your teen and you.  Who is living in your house, eating all your food and spending most of your money? Here are a few ways you can reconnect with your preteens and teens.

  1.  Try playing some family games and instituting a family game night. Some of those games can even be played on gaming systems.  Games are a great way to include everyone and spend time with your teen.
  2. Start a weekly themed meal. Gather in put from the entire family and everyone has to participate in the making of the meal. This will require sacrifice on everyone’s part. Parents may have to leave work early that day, kids may have to give up social media time but at the end of the day, work and social media will still be there. Here is an example your first themed meal–ITALIAN. Teens can download music to be playing in the background. No cooks in the family? Never fear, your local grocery store is prepared for you. There are bags of Italian style salads in the fruit and vegetable section, the bakery has garlic bread, the frozen food section has all kinds of ready made meals and desserts. Its all a matter of going out and getting creative. If you really want to take it to the next level pick a movie with the word Italy in it like The Italian Job or movies with Italian actors such as The God Father.
  3. Another way to connect with teens is through music. All the artists your kids like to listen to are most likely influenced by the artists that you listened to when you were their age. Do some research and share your music with them and allow them to share music with you. You can even have an “off limits” category. If you know your children will loathe classical keep that off limits and if you know you loathe rap or hard rock keep one of those off limits.
  4. Try engaging your teen in areas he/she enjoys.  Do you have an avid reader?  Perhaps you could read one of “their” books when they are done and then both of you could compare notes on the characters or plot.  If your teen enjoys sports, this avenue could provide an opportunity for both of you to take up an athletic activity that is new to both of you – like racquetball, ping pong or bicycling.  You get the idea…observe what your captures your teen’s interest and venture into their world of likes.  You might find you genuinely enjoy the new interest as you get to know your teen better.

The point is to see your teen as they really are today and recognize it may take effort to connect with them. Their time as teenagers will fly by,  along with your chance to get to know who they are before they are out the door. School, work and commitments can make it hard to connect but if your kids see you making an effort they will too. These last few years are just as precious as the first few, don’t blow it because you’re tired, you’re working too hard, you think your teens are weird or you dismiss this age saying “it is all a phase.”Give yourself a chance to get to know your kid and your kid a chance to know you.