There’s no such thing as a perfect family. Parents may often think they’re doing what’s “best for their child” because they love them, but those actions may not always necessarily be healthy. As children grow up and reach their teenage years, this is usually when things take a turn for the worst. Arguments may be frequent, misunderstandings increase, and parents will begin to wonder what happened to the sweet child they used to play with. This is a concern commonly experienced and we want to help be a part of the solution. Psych2Go shares with you 8 effective ways that can strengthen parent-teen relationships:
1. Hug each other on a daily basis.
Psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser states, “The older you are, the more fragile you are physically, so contact becomes increasingly important for good health.” When you enter your teenage years, you may be reluctant to hug your parents because it’s no longer considered to be “cool.” As you learn to be more independent, you may keep physical affection to a minimum. However, hugging is good for your health and acts as a natural stress reliever. Approaching adulthood can be scary and challenging. When you hug your parents on a daily basis, it can act as a physical reminder that you’re not alone. Physical and emotional support are equally important when you work on fortifying relationships in general.
2. Turn off technology devices during interactions.
It can be hard to walk away from technology when we are constantly connected by it. You don’t have to live in a cave to save your relationship with your parents, but it doesn’t hurt to put your phone on silence so you don’t feel obligated to respond to every email or text message when you’re interacting with your parents. When you’re in the car with your family, it’s also good practice to turn off the music so it gives you an opportunity to talk. Although music can be a great way to bond by singing your favorite songs together, on bad days when communication is vital, it’s good to stray from using technology as a means of escaping from one another.
3. Connect before transitions or large decision-making.
Making transitions can be challenging, especially in your teenage years. This is the time when your child begins to figure out who they are and the kind of life they want to live. A lot of decision-making takes place. There are going to be many days when they are uncertain about which direction to take. Don’t hesitate to reach out and let your child know you are there for them. Give them advice and any insights you think will be helpful to them, but don’t tell them directly what to do. Have them figure out what they want to do, but be supportive and understanding.
4. Make time to spend quality one-on-one time with each other.
As you get older, more responsibilities tend to stack up on your plate. You start working more to build the skills you want for your desired career path and your friends move away to chase their own dreams. You’re no longer in close proximity with them, so you have to schedule compatible times to see each other. This makes it incredibly easy to put your family on the backburner when you’re already juggling work with your social life. But, don’t forget to set aside time to spend quality one-on-one time with your parents.
I know it can be extremely tempting to postpone plans when you may just want to be alone to unwind for a while or go out and engage with new faces in your networking circle, but this is how parent-teen relationships weaken. Distance is created and putting in effort becomes minimal to none. Sustaining a strong relationship with your parents can be difficult with increasing age, but ghosting on them easily destroys it. It doesn’t have to be a lot. You can spend 15 minutes each day to have meaningful conversations or set aside an hour during the weekend and make dinner together.
5. Encourage emotions instead of shutting them out.
Emotions are messy, but it’s important to be mindful towards each other’s feelings. Don’t be quick to dismiss them, especially during arguments. Regulating your emotions can be difficult when you are strongly affected by a situation, but keep in mind that a strong relationship is built upon the ways in which we communicate our emotions. If your child is hurting, don’t be neglectful towards them. Even if the both of you have a hard time talking about the source of pain, emotions can only be put off for so long until they explode.
6. Listen to understand, not with the intent to react.
When you’re mad or disappointed in your child, it’s easy to listen to them just to confirm your angry emotions. Instead of being quick to react, take the time to listen and understand where your child is coming from. Even if you wholeheartedly disagree with their actions or opinions, if you choose to yell at them, this may cause even more resentment between the both of you. As a result, communication may suffer because your child may retreat and refuse to speak to you. Learn to work out your differences by broadening your perspective and finding a solution together where the both of you can benefit from.
7. Respect boundaries.
Toxic behavior derives from getting rid of boundaries. If you want to have a good relationship with your child, manifest healthy behavior by respecting their boundaries. This can be challenging on your end as your child begins wanting more privacy and freedom, but good parenting involves providing opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t rob your child of that growth. Instead, create a safe space where failure is normalized. Part of loving and caring for someone means letting go when it’s necessary. This is how trust is built.
8. Catch your child in the act of doing something right.
Teenagers often struggle with their self-confidence. It’s important to recognize that peer pressure can ruin your child’s self-esteem because popular beliefs aren’t always the healthiest or most nurturing. Don’t add fuel to the hell they’re still trying to walk through. In other words, refrain from expressing harsh criticism and negativity. Instead, focus on the deeds your child is doing right and praise them for those actions. Not only will it show that you have been paying attention to them, but this will also help boost their self-esteem.
I’d often be criticized for the decisions I made. Even though I was a high-achieving student in school and have a strong work ethic overall, I never felt like I was doing enough. Either that, or the choices I’d make in life would feel hollow. In a lot of ways, I think I just wanted to alleviate some of the misery my parents faced when they emigrated to the U.S. It was a lonely experience growing up and watching them slave away in labor for something that felt uncertain every day. And I guess I grew up to be the kind of person who can’t stand the idea of doing something that feels so completely wrong. So, I’d screw up at times just to tell myself it was okay to be messy.
I didn’t want to get sucked into image and high status. Overall, I hated the American dream, because it wasn’t real —not when there were too many nightmares. But, I am grateful to have become a better, tenacious person for recognizing them. My parents taught me to learn to dream with my eyes open, even if they didn’t always nurture the idea. Still, the idea was always there, and I managed to pick it up.
Is your relationship with your parents disintegrating? What do you wish to see differently? But more importantly, what do you want to do about it? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like 10 Ways to Deal with Toxic Parents from Psych2Go.
Fox, A. (2015, February 24). 10 Tips for Improving Parent-Teen Relationships. HuffPost. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
Holmes, L. (2014, March 27). 7 Reasons Why We Should Be Giving More Hugs. HuffPost. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
Markham, L. (2017, June 27). 10 Routines That Will Strengthen a Parent-Child Relationship. Psychology Today. Retrieved December 7, 2017.