Preserving the parent-teen relationship

Communication and Discipline   ›   Preserving the parent-teen relationship

A strong parent-teen relationship does not happen overnight; it develops over time through love and trust. If you would like to strengthen your relationship with your teen, read on to learn some basic principles that make a good starting point.

Many parents think they have to do a lot with their teens to cultivate a relationship. When our children are little, we stimulate them in a thousand and one ways, when they get older, we shower them with gifts and take part in awesome activities. All this is great fun, and no doubt pleases the child. These are means of instant gratification and give parents the tangible proof that they are meeting their children’s needs. However, to build a relationship with a child, simple things often suffice. What matters is accepting them for who they are, trusting them, and meeting their basic needs.


The relationships we create with our children need to be maintained throughout their development, which can be challenging. As long as there is a relationship, there is hope that a child will look to their parents to get what they need and trust them enough to turn to them if they are having a hard time.


Accept Their Feelings

For example, instead of telling them they shouldn’t cry, tell them that you understand their pain and give them a hug. You can also help them reflect by asking what they plan on doing and encouraging them in the solution they decide on.


Give Them Space to Express Themselves

You may be quick to tell them what to do. To foster a good relationship with your teen, you can also choose to ask them how they dealt with the situation or what they could have done instead and validate the choices that worked for them. You can praise them for having spoken to you and encourage them to do so again if they need to.


Balance Rules and Trust

This means letting them make mistakes sometimes! You can choose not to voice your opinion on their choices every time they speak about it in front of you, and try to avoid lecturing. It’s challenging to offer a reassuring presence that is free of judgment and open to what your teen might say. Before getting carried away or asking intrusive questions, think about what is important in your relationship with them. Before lecturing, ask questions that will help your teen get to the point you are trying to make themselves. Increasingly give them more trust and responsibility. Of course, our kids won’t do exactly what we would do. They do things in their own way, based on their own personality, choices, and aspirations. Parents need to be available to help, welcome, encourage, and guide their teens.


Have Realistic Expectations

A child or teen thinks and acts differently from an adult. It’s normal that they don’t understand all the consequences of their decisions, don’t clean up after themselves without being asked, and resent not being able to do whatever they want. It can often be easier to lay down a few rules and consequences rather than expect them to do or understand everything on their own.


Keep Having a Good Time Together

Keeping the parent-child relationship alive during adolescence can be challenging. Teenagers don’t need us to be around as much, it’s normal for them to go out often or stay shut in their rooms. Instead of telling your teen that they shouldn’t stay cooped up, why not offer to take them out for a meal, suggest a sport, or propose watching a movie together and having a chat afterward?