Parenting Teenagers

Showing Up for Your Teenager

connecting with your teenager Jan 21, 2022

It is Friday night and your teenager asks if you can give him and two of his friends a ride to the football game. There are a couple of opportunities to build connection within this request. First, there is the car ride. Before the friends get in the car, take the opportunity to check in with your teen. Be curious and focus on process questions rather than results (see my post Asking Your Teenager Better Questions: Results vs. Process). Once the friends are in the car, just quietly perform your duty as the driver and listen. Somehow when your teen and their friends are in the back of the car or van they almost forget that you are there.


Next, let your teen know that you are going to go to the game as well. Drop your son and his friends off so they don’t have to walk in with you and stay clear of them during the game. The intention, as you can explain to your teen if need be, is not to “keep an eye on them.” Your intention is to gain insight into their life. The next day or on the ride home after the friends have been dropped off, you can acknowledge some of the events of the night. For example:


Parent: That cheer the student section did at the start of the fourth quarter was really cool. I couldn’t believe how coordinated all of you guys were.


Now let’s extend the idea of showing up for your teenager. Show up at any events that they are involved in. This is not just about the band performances, sporting events, or academic contests. It is about going through the car wash the band is doing as a fundraising event. Or going to the pizza restaurant with the rest of the team after a big win on the soccer field. Or attending the parents’ meeting for the competition math team. Also, take advantage of the opportunities to volunteer at school events. Chaperone the homecoming dance or work the ticket booth if your teenager is on the stage crew for the spring musical. Engage in your teenager's life.


Your teenager may never say it, but they will recognize that you are making an effort to engage in their life. This builds the connection between their outside life and their home life.


My daughter once said, “One of the things I love about our family is that we always show up for each other.” How awesome is that?


Remember, when your teenager feels a strong connection to home, they take your love and support with them everywhere they go. Especially that party on Saturday night...







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