How to get your teen to talk to you this summer
By Sherise Henry
If you’re a parent of a teenager who finds themselves with more free time this summer, an opportunity could be calling. Many parents agree that raising a tween or teenager can be one of the most difficult seasons in child rearing. Isolation, rebellion, broken communication or even miscommunication can all be little foxes that attempt to destroy the vine between you and your child’s relationship. Be encouraged. The extra leisure time your child may have during summer break could create a season of bonding and a chance to create a memory while they are still under your roof.
WHAT IF MY TEEN IS JUST PLAIN DIFFICULT?
It may be wise to go in to conversation with your teen with a predetermined game plan. Once you are convinced your goal of spending time will come to fruition it’s easier to convince your teen of the same. In his advice to parents concerning “7 Keys to Handling Difficult Teenagers” Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. states that you must first “avoid giving away your power”. A teen that loves to push your buttons can affect you negatively. If they are successful what may happen is their negative attitude can frustrate you into giving up on your goal of spending quality time. Ni suggests that the less reactive you are to your teen’s provocations the more control you have over the outcome. Ni says it’s also okay in mild situations to “maintain humor and show empathy”. He states that it’s okay to smile at their responses when your teen is being difficult and say to yourself “there he/she goes again”.
I’VE GOT THEIR ATTENTION NOW WHAT??
If you’ve reached the point where your teen is willing to hear about how you want to engage them. Congratulations! Now comes the interesting part finding out what to do. In an article written for Very Well online magazine, licensed clinical social worker Amy Morin suggests turning off all electronics. That means phones, video games, and television. This may prove difficult for both parent and teen but the purpose is to engage and explore one another’s interest. Remember let’s stick to the game plan. Morin also suggests “stepping into your teens’ world.” It’s important to lend yourself to their interest. It shows that you are willing to meet them halfway and spending time will be enjoyable for both parties. Once you’ve reached this point it’s not about what you do but that an attempt to spend time together is successful. For ideas on what to do visit the article “50 Fun Ways for Your Teen to Spend Summer Vacation."
KEEPING UP THE GOOD WORK
Now that you have successfully engaged your teen one of the ways to keep up the momentum of enjoying family time together is to make a family mission statement. It’s suggested by the Christian organization Focus on the Family. There are several articles and tips on their website that will help you list family characteristics, find similarities and set goals as a family unit. For Example a mission statement may sound something like: Through God’s Grace and Will, We the Williams family will recognize each other’s talents, support one another through prayer and communication, and serve God through one special volunteer effort a month. Opened doors of communication has been a proven method in serving a family well.