One of the greatest joys in life is to have a teenager. OK, for some parents they may want to finish that sentence in a number of different ways, but the truth is, teenagers can be one of the greatest joys this life has to offer.
Sure, they can test your patience, drive you crazy, make you want to scream and even disappoint you. However, they can also provide some of life's greatest memories as they are selected as the lead in a play, make a sports team, befriend another teen who is struggling and many other choice experiences.
One of the biggest challenges parents face today with their teenagers is the outside influences of the world. With all the good that technology continues to offer, it can also strain relationships. Here are some tips to help ensure you are doing the things that can help build a lasting bond with your teen:
Social media is great and has a purpose, but when it is the only way you are communicating with your teenager, you are in trouble. No amount of Status Updates, tweets, pins, or hash tags make up for good old face-to-face conversation. You may think your teen does not want or need it, but they do and probably more now than ever. Turn off the technology and just talk. You can learn a lot in a 15-minute conversation.
No, this does not mean stalk your own teen or hover over them. What it does mean is find out ways to get involved in the things your teenager likes. If your teen loves to sing, find every opportunity to allow them to sing, if they want to play baseball, take the time to play catch, if they just want to read, find out what they are reading and read it so you can talk about it. When you are involved with your teen, they see you care.
This may be the hardest and is often the one thing that seems to get tested the most. Oftentimes, teenagers push the envelope to see how far they can go. This is actually more normal than people might want to think. It is important to try hard to trust your teenager. Yes, you need to set boundaries and rules, but you also need to be there if they make a mistake. Be quick to forgive and give them a genuine chance to gain your trust. If you don't, someone else will.
Get to know their friends
For teenagers who might be reading this, you may be thinking to yourself, "No way, I don't want my parents knowing my friends." If that is the case, I would invite you to read point 3, again. When parents know their son's or daughter's friends, it helps them know their own teenager. There is something very rewarding when you see your teenager hanging around friends you know and, for the most part, trust. Don't push it, but be as proactive as your teenager will allow.
One of the most underestimated ways to bond with your teenager is simply to love them. Sure, parents will find many ways to be proud of what their son or daughter accomplishes and achieves, but nothing can replace the genuine and unconditional love between a mom or dad and their son or daughter. Teenagers deal with more pressures than ever before, and the last thing they need to be worrying about is whether their own parents love them. You may have to swallow your own pride at times because you are angry, sad, disappointed or frustrated, but it is worth it.
There is no perfect way to parent a teenager and build a strong bond. As mentioned before, there are so many outside influences, it can get frustrating to see what your teenager has to endure. It can become even more of an issue if you see them beginning to make decisions that are not good. Our role as a parent is the most important role we will have. We cannot afford to allow others to raise our teenagers, especially the media and the world, in general. We have a responsibility to teach our teenagers, to love them and to help them reach their full potential.
As we make this a priority in our life, we will see great things from our teenagers. One of the sweetest sounds we can ever hear is our teenager simply saying, "I love you." Right now, make the decision that you will find a way to bond with your teenager, and be sure to make it a consistent and genuine effort. There will be great blessings for both you and your teen as you strive to build a strong and lasting relationship.