Let's face it, your role as a parent will change from meeting all of your child's needs to guiding them to meet their own needs as adolescents. All the while, parents should still stay involved with what is going on in their teen lives. And there is a big payoff when you do. When parents stay involved, teens make better decisions, stay out of trouble more and know where to turn for help.
No, it isn't easy and no, there isn't always time. But the effort is worth it, so here are a few ideas that can help:
- Set the time and date to do something together.
It doesn't have to be a big planned event. Simply schedule some time to spend together. Be sure your check with your teen so you can schedule it together and you will both be free. You can even make it a part of something that has to be done, like going out for haircuts. Taking chores that need to be done and turning them into together time helps with an active parent's time management and a teen's busy schedule. It's an added benefit that you are showing them time management skills.
- Have you praised your teen today?
Praising your teen takes two minutes but it can make your teen's whole day. This goes hand-in-hand with being involved because involved parents will know what their teen has done recently that they can offer some praise about. If you've too busy to notice - and we have all been there - look around and find something. While you don't want to praise your teen for praise sake because that will have the opposite effect, letting your teen know that you appreciate them is a great way to stay involved with them.
- Listen to your teen and be interested in what they are saying.
I've always been amazed at how mature a teenager sounds when they are telling me about an experience they've had. They don't sound like kids anymore. They offer up pieces of their own opinions - tidbits of who they are becoming - in these anecdotes. Listen for them! I love to hear them. When you listen to your teen like this, it's like watching their first steps.
- Check your planners together.
The whole family should be involved in keeping up with tasks and appointments that need to be done and while mom and dad get to do the family calendar as well, planners are done per person. They are used to keep everyone organized with their own responsibilities. There are apps and programs teens can use to help with this task, as well. Setting a time each week to check planners together will help you see what times you have to do things together and things you can ask your teen about during the week.
- Set the limits and give responsibilities.
Teens, just like everyone else, do better when they are staying within their boundaries and completing their responsibilities. Without these things your teen will have a hard time being successful. Being an involved parent means you will need to set the limits and revise and maintain them over time. Also be sure your teen has age appropriate responsibilities.
- Meals together are where family togetherness thrives.
There is something about food that gets a conversation going. Try to have a meal together at least 4 times a week to remain actively involved with your teenager. It doesn't always have to be dinner together, breakfast and lunch together work just as well. Don't forget to allow your teen to help with the preparation of the meal, a life skill they will need to take with them as young adults.
- Keep up with their technology.
While you can email them a thank you for switching the laundry, private messaging them on their social network or texting it puts you in their world. While you're there, check it out and keep them safe.
- Ask your teen for their opinion.
Looking for a good book to read? Want to know what television show your teen is into. Ask. They'll tell you want they think and they may even let you voice your opinion as well.