Tips To Reconnect With Your Teen
They are moody, prickly creatures. One moment, they can seem deceptively inert, even lazy…but the next, look out! They can infuriate you in the blink of an eye-roll, then finish you off with a sarcastic sigh. They are teens – and everything you have heard about them is true.
Disclaimer: I, myself, am currently personally at odds with my eldest teen. Does this make me biased? Absolutely not. I am 100% completely objective when I state: What a nightmare! Gone are the days of sweet, cuddle deliciousness. Welcome instead to the days of grumpiness and sullenness, the new default settings, with smiles reserved only for their peers.
Oh, you might still catch an occasional fleeing glimpse of your your baby from the past, trapped in a body suddenly too big for their hormone-addled brain, peering out like a panicked cartoon mouse trying to operate a giant killer robot.
However, those that are the most unlovable need the most love, and as the parent, you are their home base. Want to help make sure your relationship with your teen weathers the storm of this tumultuous time in your parenthood journey? The key is reconnection. Here are some tips for reconnecting with your teen, even when it seems like you’re a million miles apart…
Reconnect by always listening from the heart
This may be hard to do when your very presence seems to put them on edge, and the words coming out of their mouth cut your soul so deeply. Instead of arguing, take a breath, calm yourself down, and actually listen to what they are trying to say. Listen with your heart, not your mind. In this non-reactive mode of communication, you might be surprised by how much your teen opens up to you when you aren’t lecturing them.
Reconnect by allowing them to find themselves (within limits)
Teenagers are navigating through the world feeling both exhilarated and untethered. As parents, we may feel like this is the time to put in more controls, but the opposite is true. Try to let that umbilical cord stretch more like a bungee cord. Cut your teen some slack, and allow them to experience an appropriate degree of independence, while being mindful that family limits still need to be set and adhered to. Sit down with your teen and have them contribute to the family rules. Rules made with the input of all family members will make everyone more accountable.
Reconnect by speaking their language
Bet, ROFL, Boomer, or whatever crazy emoji your teens may text you, parents trying to navigate this “foreign language” can really miss the boat on meaning and syntax. Don’t be shy about asking them what they mean. You’ll be surprised by how quickly they’ll welcome the opportunity to teach you a thing or two. Spend a little time uncovering what they are “into” these days. Whether it’s Tik Tok, Minecraft, or Among Us, take a little time here and there apps and games. Maybe even let your teens talk you into making a Tik Tok or two (maybe.)
Reconnect by doing things together
This is likely the hardest of the bunch, since kids at this age often refuse to participate in pretty much any activity that you bring up. Put your armor on and accept that they’ll likely only come along kicking and screaming, but once at your destination everyone will be better off. You’ll find that shoulders relax, words turn into sentences, and smirks into smiles.
Maybe you’ll even get a glimpse of the sweet cuddly deliciousness that once was.
Zaiba Hasan is an American Muslim who grew up biracial and bicultural. Born and raised in Chicago, Zaiba’s Irish/Pakistani heritage and interfaith upbringing gave her a head start on navigating between identities.
It’s therefore no surprise that she is frequently invited to speak at interfaith events, since her background makes her a natural at bridging gaps between Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States. A degree in Political Science and Communication further shaped Zaiba’s outlook on issues like race, immigration and nationalism, as well as her parenting philosophy, which is geared towards raising compassionate, responsible global citizens.
When she isn’t busy with podcasting, public speaking, fostering interfaith community, or working on her Masters In Divinity & Spirituality, Interfaith Certification, & Parent Coaching Certification, Zaiba can usually be found on the basketball court or baseball field with her husband and their four children.