Changing Times and Your Teen
It’s okay. Everything’s okay… If you’re the parent of a teen, there’s a good chance that you’re feeling scared, confused, angry, guilty and sad about your relationship with your teen right now, so the most important message that we have to offer here is that everything’s okay. We can help you adapt to the changing times.
We Were all Teens Once, Remember?
The generational gap is very real, but it has as much to do with age as it does to do with the times. Right now your values look outdated to your teen, and their values look shallow to you. One of the most useful things that you can do for yourself right now is to think back to when you were a teen, or more importantly, to when you were a young adult, when you outgrew a lot of the things that your parents must have hated seeing you get involved in, when you started to understand your parents’ values a little better. Most importantly, you eventually grew up simply as a matter of course. Your parents couldn’t make you take your responsibilities more seriously no matter how hard they tried, you simply had to grow out of the short sighted, narrow interests we all tend to hold in our youth.
Kids Need Boundaries
Things are difficult right now and you need to set boundaries for your teen (and yes, these boundaries are just as important even when you know your teen will break them from time to time, because teaching consequences is an important part of being a parent), and you also need to provide them with security, with a place to come home to at the end of the day, a cushion to land on when they do make mistakes (and they will).
Part of being close with your teen right now is accepting that there is this gap, that your child is growing from a child into a young adult, and that they need to make their own path and make their own mistakes. That said, this doesn’t mean that you can’t still be both a parent and a friend to your teen.
Connect on Common Ground
You’ve been through this exact same kind of thing in a lot of relationships before with friends, spouses, family members: Simply trying to take an interest in what they take an interest in can be an enormous step forward. Their music might sound like crazy people banging on trash can lids to you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t findsome common ground somewhere. It could be a movie that you both like, a song that you both love, a book you’ve both read. Whatever that common ground is, no matter how small it may seem, it’s reason enough to start talking.
And that’s the heart of the solution: keeping up with the changing times, keeping up with your teen, is not a process that’s going to involve your picking up a bunch of hip magazines and trying desperately to figure out what the kids are into these days. As long as you stay roughly up to date on the technology and take the time to really talk with your teen at least once or twice a week, there’s very little fear of falling behind.
Genuine Interest leads to Genuine Relationships
There are no tricks, there’s no magic bullet, there’s no strategy that you can put into play here. It’s all about human closeness, it’s all about expressing real love and real interest and real caring. As long as you make an effort to listen, your teen will make an effort to talk.