Four Steps to Connecting With Teens
by Patti Chadwick

One thing that most parents of teenagers want is a better relationship with their teens. As our children continue to grow and change often the parent-teen relationship suffers. This doesn't have to be the case. With a little effort, we can stay connected with our teens all through these somewhat turbulent years and into adulthood.

There are many ways for you to build a better relationship with your teenager, but I've found that if you follow four basic steps, you will build a firm foundation on which your relationship will flourish. These steps are: showing respect, having fun, giving encouragement, and showing love.

Respect is the first step to improving any relationship, and the parent-teen relationship is no exception. While our job as a parent is to provide guidance and discipline for our teenagers, we also have the responsibility to treat our teens with respect. Parents will often complain that their teens do not respect them, yet how often do we as parents show teens a lack of respect? Many things show disrespect such as nagging, yelling, hitting, talking down, and doing things for teens that they can do for themselves. Following a double standard is also a sign of disrespect that is often overlooked by adults.

While the parent and child have different roles and responsibilities in the family, no one should be considered more important than any other. You show respect when you treat your teen like an equal. This doesn't mean that you both have the same authority and function in the family, but it does mean that your are both human beings and both deserve respect. One of our roles as a parent is to guide are teens, but we need to do this respectfully.

The next step to take is to have fun with your teen. As your teens enter high school, time becomes a premium. With high school sports, studies, friends, and extra-curricular activities, there isn't much time left for family togetherness. Having fun with your teenager is important and while it doesn't need to take much of your time, you will need to make sure you plan for it. It can be as simple as sharing a meal together, renting a video to watch together, driving together in a car. It helps if you know your teen and 'tune in' to their sense of humor. You will find lots of things to share on the radio, in a magazine, and on TV that will make you both laugh. It also helps to try to plan special things that you both will like to do. This past year I took my teens on an overnight shopping trip for school clothes at a big factory outlet center. We got all our school shopping done and had loads of fun together. We made some memories that will never be forgotten.

Third, parents need to remember to give encouragement to their teens. We all need to believe in ourselves, feeling that we are capable and worthy of being loved and this is especially important to teens. Make sure you point out their unique qualities, putting more emphasis on their strengths than on their weaknesses. Focus on their efforts, which will let them know that you have confidence in them. This kind of encouragement goes a long way in gaining your teens cooperation and building their self-esteem.

Finally, remember to show your teenager love - and with this, timing is the key! Though they are no longer children, teens still need to feel that their parents love them. Show them you love them by both words and actions. Tell them you love them, give them hugs and pats on the backs (but NOT in front of their friends!), fix their favorite meal, do little favors for them, and continue to release them to grow in responsibility and independence.

Building a better relationship with your teenager may take work, but it is definitely worth the effort. Use these four easy steps to help you build a firm foundation on which your relationship can flourish!}

Patricia Chadwick is a a freelance writer and has been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. She is currently a columnitst in several online publications as well as editor of two newsletters. Parents & Teens is a twice monthly newsletter geared to help parents connect with their teens. Subscribe at History’s Women is weekly online magazine highlighting the extraordinary achievements of women. Subscribe at  Patti is also the author of "History's Women - The Unsung Heroines".  By the ebook at: or

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