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Your teeners no longer tell you how their days were. Instead, you’d overhear the score while they’re yakking with their friends. And you’re not even in the inner circle anymore, and that includes being in their Facebook friends list. And what about those times when they’ll blow hot and cold, you don’t know what they really want?
Welcome to the maddening world of teen parenting! If you had a hard time at the “Terrible Two” stage, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This is a rough time when you and your child both struggle to find the right mix of independence and supervision. It’s tough but it’s a necessary stage as it will help your kids understand about choice and consequences. Here are five tips on how to make the process as painless as possible.
1. Know Their Friends
Take interest in who your teens are hanging out with but make sure it’s genuine interest and not because you want to spy on them. Teens can smell subterfuge a mile away. Invite their squad over to your home. Prepare food and fun games. Join in on the fun. Teens will appreciate your support and will know that you are on their side.
2. Thou Shall Keep Meals Sacred
Make them understand that family time is sacred. The “strictly no cellphones on the dining table” rule should be a non-negotiable. Expect eye rolls and loads of grumbles and mumbles but the payoff is worth it. With no distractions, you can bond with them over food and conversations.
3. Thou Shall Not Judge
Whether it be their taste in music, in fashion, or the cut and color of their hair, chillax. Get with the program and let them make their own choices. If you don’t get it—like who would want a pink streak on their hair or why screaming and cursing is great music—ask them. Your teens will find it awesome to have the chance to play teacher on you. This builds their self-esteem and is deeply affirming.
4. Never Pass Up the Chance to Say, “I Love You”
Say it over the phone before hanging up. Or after the huge argument when you’re finally settling down to talk. Teach your teens that disagreements are normal and not a deal breaker. And they don’t need to say it back. Them knowing that you love them is enough.
5. Carpe Diem
Don’t wait for big moments—it’s the daily stuff that count. Bond with them while you’re all caught in traffic. Seize every opportunity to have a one-on-one with your teens. But don’t be pushy. Like with all relationships, staying connected is about constancy and letting them know that no matter what happens, mommy and daddy will always be there for them.