At the risk of sound obvious, bonding with a child is easy. Snuggles here, playing with toys there. It can be as intuitive as holding your little one, and as rewarding as seeing his or her face light up with that adorable smile.
But what about teenagers? What about when they are taller than you, louder than you, and (gasp) moodier than you?
Yes, bonding with teenagers is absolutely possible, but it can take some creativity and willingness to try something different. Let’s get into some awesome ways to bond with the soon-to-be adult in your life.
Share a Common Hobby or Interest
I love rock climbing, and it’s awesome to watch parents climbing with their teenagers. Not only does this entail great exercise, but it’s also an amazing opportunity for growth and bonding.
When I was growing up, my father and I shared a common interest in hiking. We’d find new trails near us and explore them, backpacks and hiking shoes and all. Today, I still adore hiking, and while my father may not be in the same shape he was 20+ years ago, he still likes hearing about my adventures.
I know families who play board games together. I also know of another friend who does those infamous escape rooms with his family (which is incredibly cool). I know of another family who run an Etsy shop together! Teenagers need stimulation, and so do adults- get exploring!
I don’t think this can be stated enough: giving feels good. That cliche that you get more when you give? I believe in that wholeheartedly.
I think parents have a valuable role in instilling charitable goodness in their teenagers. During my adolescent years, my father and I occasionally volunteered at a shelter. I remember feeling nervous and shy when I first went along to help out, but I also remember how empowered and accomplished I felt in giving back.
Today, I’m a therapist- meaning I do what i can to give back all day long- but I’ll never forget the virtues and joys of providing service work just because.
Connect With Their Peers
Growing up, my house was that house- you know the one where everyone convenes because you feel a sense of belonging. My parents knew my friends, and not just in the sense that they knew we shared a math class together. They knew their hobbies and passions, their favorite foods and their favorite colors.
In turn, this allowed me to feel safe and encouraged to talk to my parents and vent if I needed support with friendship problems (which are of utmost importance during those tumultuous teenage years).
Just don't get too nosy and stalk all their friends on social media- that's a great way to get ignored, banned, and shut down by your teen.
Teenagers are moody, and it doesn’t take a therapist to tell you that. They have outbursts and meltdowns. They may say one thing in one moment, and then act out in a completely opposite direction. Rather than respond swiftly and dynamically to the change, it’s important to stay consistent and level.
All kids and teenagers need structure- and this doesn’t stop just because they start talking back. Hold your ground and your boundaries!