Mealtimes are very different now from how they used to be fifty years ago. With everyone’s lives so busy, many families don’t have time for family mealtimes anymore and parents and children come and go, eating when they can. By setting dinner times for the whole family you can reconnect with your teenager without making it obvious that the real reason is so you can spend more time with them. It also allows you to catch up with the rest of the family and hear about their day, something families rarely have time to do.
Even if your teen is moaning or complaining to you about something, make sure you pay attention and take a keen interest in what they are saying. Even if the conversation has a fairly negative slant, at least they are confiding and discussing elements of their life with you. If a teenager realises you are not interested in what they are telling you, they will be gone before you know it, preferring to chat to their friends over their uninterested parents.
There is nothing worse than treating a teen as though they are still a child. Teenagers go through huge mental changes and although they may still look very young at 15, they will be becoming more and more mature every day and will be very aware of it. The last thing they want is to be put in the same category as their ten year old sibling and treated in the same way. By treating them as an adult and an equal, you will gain their respect and your relationship will flourish.
Ask your teenager when they have a day free and set a date for you to spend the day together. Be laid back about it and don’t treat it as a huge event with bells and whistles. Treat them to lunch, go shopping together or take a walk in the park -- anything you want as long as you are spending time with them. They may actually enjoy it and become open to the idea of more time with mum or dad which could help you stay involved in their life, even if it is just once a month.
This doesn’t mean you need to start mumbling in slang and using "peace" hand signs when a family photo is taken, but becoming a little bit more savvy in the technology department could go a long way. By being able to communicate with your teenager by text message or e-mail, rather than having to ring them from the landline, could put you a bit higher in their estimations. It also means your teen doesn’t have to answer the phone to their mum in front of friends and can just reply to you with a quick "I will be home at 9" text. Being interested in their favourite actors, pop stars and music, rather than not having a clue who they are, also means you immediately have something in common which you can use to engage them in conversation.
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