As a parent, have you ever asked yourself how “relatable” you are to your children? When our children are younger, they think we do no wrong and are completely innocent of the world around them. They look up to us and follow all that we do. As they get older and become teenagers, they develop their own ideas, thoughts, and opinions along with likes and dislikes.
As parents, we spend a lot of time teaching our teens right from wrong, making sure we tell them things that they should and should not be doing based on our own experiences. We are always talking to our teens, but how well do you really relate to them?
Our teens still need our guidance, but they also need to relate to us in a different way. They are growing up and going through things we may not even realize.
Remember having that boy or girl you had a crush on but perhaps they never gave you the time of day? Remember your first breakup? You were totally crushed, but your parents only said, “Don’t worry. You get over it. Trust me. Move on.”
Did their words really make you feel any better? I don’t think so. Why not share your experience with your teen and relate to them? Let them truly understand that you know exactly what they are going through and the painful feeling that goes with it.
When we become parents, we sometimes get so wrapped up in teaching our kids that we forget we were one once kids ourselves—those things that seem so minor to us now as adults were huge as teenagers and had a great impact on us.
Have a good laugh with your teen when you share your experience. Let them know you have been there and get them to open up by asking such questions as “What happened?” And be sure to tell them what happened to you.
We have all had tough moments getting through middle school and high school—friends who suddenly won’t speak to us, that teacher who seems impossible to please or get along with and you are certain they hate only you. You have that class you have to take but can’t understand it for the life of you no matter how many times it’s explained to you. There’s that tryout that scares you to death, and what about getting your driver’s license?
We can take these moments to not only teach our teens but also relate to them and find a place to be a parent and build and nurture a friendship and bond that can be carried forward with their own teens one day.
These moments don’t have to be so stressful for our teenagers. Do they need to feel as though there is no possible way we could ever understand them? Absolutely not.
They need to know we are there for them and that we do understand—not just by our words but also by how we handled things that hurt us. You will be surprised at the relationship your teen really wants with you. They don’t just want to be stubborn and not have you in their life. Quite the opposite is true. They just need your help in finding a way to relate so that they feel free to talk.
Our teens are going to make mistakes, do things, and, yes, you will say to yourself, “I knew it. I wish they would have just listened to me.” Keep that thought to yourself, though, because you should remember that you also made your fair share of mistakes. It’s all part of learning and growing. We still make mistakes as adults and have to find our way. We still need people we can relate to.
I am not condoning bad behavior in any way. I am simply saying that you need to get down to your teens’ level and remember what things you were going through at their age and share your experiences with them. Get your teen to laugh with you at the experience instead of feeling as if it is the end of the world. Sure, they are still going to hurt and still have to get through it in their own way, but knowing your parents have been there can ease the hurt, stress, and anxiety and give them courage and confidence to move forward.
Our children don’t stay children for long, so nurture that relationship every day.
So what do you say? What things can you do to relate to your teen and become not only a parent but also a friend they can always rely on?