The end of the year is a great time for assessing what is working in your family life — and what you would like to improve. If you have a teenager, this past year may have had a few rocky moments. As parents, we are always trying to be the best we can be for our kids. Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2017 is to handle some things differently with your teen. So we asked some of our favorite experts for advice on how to improve your parent teenager relationship in 2017.
How to Improve Your Parent Teenager Relationship
1. Enjoy down time together.
I suggest taking a moment to spend time together doing pleasant and low-demand activities. We often get caught up in to-do lists, rules/routines, and screens and forget to have easy, one-on-one interactions. Have a meal together, make a meal, take a walk, play a game, or make a list of things to do together.
Dr. Mandy Silverman is a psychologist with the Child Mind Institute
Find times to be with your teenager when you don’t have an agenda. So often in family life we are nudging our teenagers this way or that, pursuing an angle in our conversations (even if the angle is merely to have a conversation), or trying to offer advice or guidance. These are all important parts of parenting a teenager, but we should also embrace the value of simply sharing our teenagers’ company. This can mean reading nearby while they text with friends, watching television or going to the movies together, or just hanging out.
Dr. Lisa Damour is a psychologist and author of Untangled: Guiding Girls Through the 7 Transitions Into Adulthood.
2. Find Common Interests.
Find a similar interest and spend time doing it — exercising together, hockey together, cooking together, watching Hallmark movies together, eating meals together. Some of my most fun nights with my daughter was when we went to Bruins games together.
Elizabeth Diggins, Mother and Administrative Assistant to Michael G. Thompson, Ph.D., and Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ph.D.
3. Give Them Space.
One definitive thing that you can do to improve your relationship with your teen in 2017 is to make space for them. When parents make every decision a teen makes or behavior their teen displays about their parenting identity it doesn’t leave much room for their teen to reflect and develop from that interaction. This year, try to take a step back when issues arise and give your teen space to be on a separate journey from you.
Mercedes Samudio, LCSW, is a parent coach based in Huntington Beach, CA. Learn more about Samudio at TheParentingSkill.com
4. Recognize Teens Are a Work in Progress.
The most useful idea to bring to being the parent of a teen is understanding that they’re not you, and they’re not done. This helps us maintain our balance even when their boat is rocking. They are in process of becoming their own person. But who they are right now is not the endpoint.
Deborah Paris, LCSW, works frequently with adolescents and their parents