Being a teenager can be difficult and challenging. The eclectic mix of emotions, hormones, friendships and pressures can make for a difficult time for your son. It is a time of discovery, learning and growing up and unfortunately for parents, they may not feel the closeness that they once did with their son. Some teenage boys prefer to spend time with their friends or sit in the privacy of their room, instead of spending time with parents and other family members.
Despite the likely change in dynamics in your relationship, there are steps you can take to ensure that you remain close to your son. His journey towards independence and self-identity needn’t mean your relationship suffers.
Here are 5 ways to stay connected with your teenage son:
1. Share a hobby or project
Sharing a hobby or a project can be one of the best things you can do to maintain tight bonds with your son. The hobby should be something you both enjoy and can by anything from bike riding, cooking or swimming, to fixing up an old car, playing music or kicking a footy. Having a shared passion, project or goal will bring you closer and give you a shared purpose for spending time together.
2. Take an interest in his interests
By taking an interest in your son’s interests you are demonstrating that you care for him and his passions. For example you may think that football is a dangerous or pointless pursuit but if your son loves it, make the effort to listen to him talk about football, go to his games or sit on the couch and watch live games with him. He’ll appreciate you taking an interest in his life and you might learn something or find a new interest of your own.
3. Be around and available
Being accessible to your son doesn’t mean you need to sit next to him every waking hour, but it is important to be available when he needs you. We all live busy lives - including your son - however just being available means you can provide him with the opportunity to come to you when he needs help. A great example of being around is making yourself available to drive your son to school, friend’s houses or activities. Car rides provide great opportunities to chat as you can sit casually, side-by-side, and just talk. Not having to make eye contact means that your son may be more inclined to open up about things that are happening in his life, or problems that are bothering him.
4. Give him his personal space
This may sound contradictory to our last point but there is a need for both space and time together in order to have a balanced and healthy relationship. As a teenager, it is important for your son to have his own personal space. Everyone needs time alone every now and then, so allow him that time and encourage it if you feel he might need time out. This is a good time for you to be in prayer for your son and to ask the Lord to help you know the right time and context in which to talk with him.
5. Create regular family time
Creating a regular time for your family to be together, could be as simple as a scheduled dinner time each night, a regular family outing or even a routine family movie night. Scheduled time ensures the family gets together regularly and creates the opportunity for conversation and bonding. Be sure to remove distractions (phones etc.) so that the time you have together is uninterrupted.
Trying to talk to a teenage boy can feel like talking to a brick wall, but rest assured, it can be done. We were all teenagers once, so try and relate to the struggles he is facing. Be persistent and patient with him because one day, he will recognise your effort and may even thank you for it.
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