Your once loveable, huggable, snuggly child now seems to be pulling further away from you. As most parents end up finding out, the transition from a kid to a teenager is a trying one. It’s a time where your child is trying to learn how to identify themselves and fit in with their peers as they get closer to adulthood. During these years their social lives, studies, and the outside world become a lot more interesting than their parents. Needless to say, many adults don’t know how to cope.
Though you may want to know what’s going on in their lives and build a closer bond, interrogating your teen, becoming controlling, or displaying negative emotions towards your teen will only push them further away. So, how does one handle it when their teen becomes distant? Here’s some advice below:
Give Them Space
This may seem counterproductive but the best way to deal with a distant teen is to give them space. Their behavior at this age is completely normal as they’re simply learning how to navigate life, develop their own opinions, and fit it with a group of their peers. They want the freedom to do this without having to feel guilty. The more you try to force quality time or open communication on them, the harder it is for them to open up. So, unless you see behavior that could harm them or others, just give them the space they ask for.
Be There When They Need You
Your teen may think they’re grown, but they’re nowhere near adulthood yet. They will still need to know they can come to you when there is a problem or they just need a solid opinion. This means you not only need to be there when they need to talk, but you need to communicate with an open mind. Whether they want to talk to you about a relationship gone sour, struggling with their studies, or, for adoptive parents, if they want to learn about their birth parents (click here for advice on how to handle this), it’s your job to listen. Then, as best you can, provide them with your opinion without trying to force it on them. This will encourage them to come to you whenever they’re in need instead of confiding in others.
Ensure They Have Positive Role Models
The truth is, your teen isn’t going to feel comfortable coming to you about everything. Be that as it may, you’d prefer them to go to someone that has their best interests in mind. Now is the time to ensure that they have other positive adult role models in their lives that they can turn to. Whether they go to a teacher, coach, counselor, aunt, grandparent, or cousin, it’s imperative that they have others they can turn to.
Hang How They Want to
On the very rare occasions that your teen does want to spend time with you, it would be best if you find ways to bond with them that they’ll enjoy. Since they’re older, a trip to the park or to get some ice cream isn’t as appealing. Whether you go rollerskating, bowling, shopping, a trip to the nail salon, or to a sporting event, just try to find fun ways to bond with your teen. As you’re hanging out, be sure not to try and badger them into opening up more than they want. Simply enjoy the time together.
Parenting a teenager is a difficult transition from what you’re used to. It is during these years that your child will need space, trust, guidance, and understanding to further develop into positive young adults. If you feel that your teen has been pushing away from you, remember it’s normal, don’t take it personally, and utilize the advice listed above.