As a parent of a teenager, how would you describe your relationship with your teenager last year? Did it go as well as you had hoped? Are there any areas you would like to improve in the New Year? If honesty was required, than I bet every parent of a teenager would agree there is room for growth in their parenting relationship. Whether you are a veteran parent of a teenager or a newbie, here are some practical suggestions of how to improve your relationship with your teenager in the New Year.
1. Make a weekly time to have breakfast
The great thing about breakfast is it is usually the only time of the day when it is easy to be on time. No prior meetings can cause delays. No prolonged prior appointments will necessitate a need to reschedule or cancel. Some families find it helpful to find a morning during the week because they are already at home together. Others find a weekend morning better. Why not use this time to catch up on your teenager’s activities for the day?
2. Make it a point to eat 3-5 meals together
I’ve heard there are studies that suggest eating meals together as a family decreases at risk behaviors in teens. I would attribute this to it provides a time for parents to stay consistently involved in your teenager’s life happenings, more than just once a week. Use this time talk about what is taking place in their daily lives, not to lecture them. Out of 21 meals in a week, what 3 meals will you set aside to eat together with your teenager?
3. Improve communication with your teenager
Use your ears more than your mouth. If you are unsure what to talk about, find something to get your teenager’s opinion on. If there is one thing a teenager likes to give, it’s his/her opinion. Check out the popular culture blogs for some conversation starters. You do not have to necessarily agree, just have a dialogue with them.
4. Combine mutual hobbies and quality time
In today’s overly scheduled society, both parents and teenagers can find it difficult to find some time to spend together. Why not combine the two. Does your teenager like be outside, and you like to exercise? Why not learn a sport together? Get your creative juices flowing!
5. Implement a Family Night once a month
A Family Night is simply a scheduled time where everyone in the family will be together. Even with hurried schedules, it is still possible to gather together once a month to spend time together. A Family Night has just one agenda: Fun, fun, fun – no lectures, no handling any conflict or discipline problems. Just some time to relax and be with one another. It can be as lavish as a dinner and play, or as relaxed as ordering pizza and watching pay per view.
6. Plan a family vacation
I know this sounds simple, and for some it even seems crazy given the difficult relationship you may have with your teenager. However, family vacations can also be healing for some parents and teenagers. A lot of conflict arises from miscommunication, short tempers, and just being exhausted. Family vacations allow parents and teenagers to relax and recharge. Involve your teenager in some of the vacation planning to give him/her a sense of ownership. This can decrease the amount of conflict and self reported claims of boredom on your family vacation
If last year did not seem to go as you had dreamed, then do not get discouraged! You now have over 300 days to strengthen your parenting relationship.
Are you interested in finding out more about how to improve the relationship with your teenager? I invite you to check out http://www.parentingyourteenager.com where you will find common sense advice on how parents and teens can become better friends when they feel like enemies.
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