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Seven steps to a terrific relationship with your teen

Seeking connection with your teenager? Here are some real-world tips that you can implement every day to strengthen the bond between you and your teen.

1. Find an activity your teen enjoys which you can do as a family, regardless the age of siblings or other family members. For our family, its karaoke. Bianca, 17, sings and the entire family — all the way down to Emma, 2 — has a turn at the mike showing their stuff and creating silly memories for all! 2. Loosen and tighten the reins as your teen’s behavior warrants it. Sometimes he will act like he’s 25 years old and other times you will swear he is five years old. If he is acting in an immature fashion, set firmer guidelines and rules. Without knowing it, he is begging you for it. As his behavior improves, loosen the reins. Base your grip on his behavior, not on the calendar or his peers.

3. Communicate on a daily basis the specialness of your teen. She is not her grades. She is not her peer group. She is not her extracurricular activities. She is a precious gift from God, who loves YOU with all her heart, even as she is screaming at the top of her lungs in a hormone-induced frenzy.

4. Actively show concern for your teen in all his activities, not just the ones you enjoy most. Support him in all he does that is legal, ethical and moral. (And if he is doing things that do not fall in this category, by all means STOP him! :-�)

5. Be a parent your teen and her friends want to be around. Open your home to them. Have teen-friendly treats available. State the ground rules for visitors, and expect to enforce them. Appreciate your teen’s friends as individuals deserving of respect, just as you would treat your own adult friends.

6. Participate in school activities. Bianca loved it when — believe it or not — I brought cupcakes to school on her 15th birthday. Enough for the entire band and drill team. Be aware of the school calendar. Rearrange your schedule as much as possible for your teen, it will reap you many rewards.

7. Once a week, take your teen out alone for a cup of coffee, to see what is happening with her. Talk out any problems, brainstorm solutions, offer concern, have celebrations! This may be the most special time of the week for her…and you, too!

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