Here are a few things you can do to unwind the tense relationship you have with your teenager:
1. Take better care of yourself. If you’re not used to taking care of your own needs, passions and hobbies, now’s a good time to start. Even if you neglected yourself for so many years in order to educate your child, you can now find activities that you like and that fulfill you. Remember what you would have wanted to do when you were a child, but couldn’t, and do it new. I know someone who learned how to play the violin at 43, when his child became a teenager. When your inner balance lacks, you’ll only obsess over your problems with your child, and do nothing more then make them worse.
2. Be patient. You need to be very patient in order to properly communicate with a teenager. And if you haven’t been patient so far, no better time like the present. Start from the premise that an improvement in the relationship with your child is within your reach, and that you will get there, but only with time and hard work. If you were sure that you’d succeed and that you’d end up getting along great with your child, do you think you would find the resources and the patience?
3. Accept your child the way he is. Only when he feels accepted will he be open enough to listen to what you have to say and take your opinion into account. In other words, you need to take the first step in order to improve your relationship and, if you’ll keep trying to reach him, sending him positive signals, you will eventually receive a positive answer. Even when you wished he were different, nothing will work until you accept him. Because every change needs a transition from what it is to what is should be.
4. Offer him whatever he wants. Many conflicts between parents and their teenage children come from the fact that adults see their children’s requests and desires as over the top, unhealthy and inappropriate, or downright silly. But if you were your child, if you lived his life and had his thoughts, you would probably want the same things. When your child shares you his desires or asks for your help, offer it to him. It’s more important that he feels you near him, than that he does whatever you want. And, once he’ll feel accepted and understood, it’s quite likely that he’ll realize he didn’t even need that thing or that he could get it in a different way. But what can you do if it’s a totally unacceptable request? Then the challenge is to find some common ground. In order to do that, tell him what you want and help him find out what he wants and what lies behind his wishes. Ask him to come up with ideas and solutions that will make you both happy.
5. Don’t ever forget that you love that person very much. When we fall in love, we admire everything about the person we love, we ignore the things we dislike or even find them cute. How would you feel if, during this romantic phase in a relationship, you’d start criticizing your partner, screaming at him, punishing him? Be this open and accepting towards your teenage child as well.
6. Tell him about yourself. Many parents get upset because their child won’t tell them anything about what he did in school or about his friends. At that age, a child’s communicational needs are focused more on his friends. Until he gets home at night, he’s already discussed all the important things to him with whomever he felt the need to. So, you can set an example by telling him all about your day, about what happened to you, and who knows, he might actually want to share something with you.
7. Act as a team. Help him see the two of you as a team. Find an important objective for the both of you and get involved in seeing it through.
8. Create the home he needs. Most of the time, a teenager feels like he’s waging war with everyone around. Do what you have to so that he doesn’t also feel like he needs to fight it at home as well.
9. Get involved in his hobbies. It’s an age when many new interests can pop, new desires and hobbies. As much as your relationship allows you, you can try to get involved in his hobbies, because it might make the two of you even closer.
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