Guest Author - Stephanie K. Ferguson
The following ideas are presented to help you adopt new and healthy ways of relating to your adolescent. Accepting that you can’t control every aspect of his or her life, encouraging communicating honestly and negotiating fairly may help you find new ways to express your love and support and bring out the best that everyone in your family has to offer.
Whatever we focus our energy on tends to get more powerful. This can work positively or negatively depending on our perspective. There are many ways to acknowledge and encourage the positive aspects of your relationship with your adolescent. Find occasions for laughter, praise, and just pleasant conversation. It will help to remind you both that you have more in common than just problems.
~ Enjoy and appreciate your teenager. Look for the characteristics and qualities that you enjoy most in him or her and express how you feel about them: “I love to hear you sing;” I admire the way you stand up for yourself;” or “You always have a nack for making people laugh.”
~ Enter the adolescent’s world. When it’s appropriate, take an interest in the music your adolescent listens to, the clothes he or she purchases, the books he or she reads.
~ Be available to listen when – and if – your adolescent asks to share a problem. Consider asking if you can make suggestions instead of promptly offering advice. If your input is resisted, then back off. If a confession or troubling news is forthcoming (e.g., a bad report card, or a ding in the car bumper), try not to lecture or saying “I told you so.” Instead consider saying: “I’m glad you told me. It’s important for you to be able to confide in me.”
~ Ask questions. Sometimes if you present information that your adolescent already knows, then the pertinent parts he or she doesn’t know are lost. To avoid being condescending (and sometimes downright boring), find out what he or she already knows about the topic. That way, you’ll be able to focus your comments more effectively.
~ Make time to be together as a family. Even if you are a single parent, spend time together that have nothing to do with homework, chores, or crises. Have standing play dates. Visit the local amusement park, check out the latest teen interest movie, or go bowling. When you’re not looking or try so hard, you’ll be bonding.