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A child’s teenage years can be extremely difficult for parents to navigate. It’s a time when your relationship with your child undergoes a fundamental shift that may cause mistrust, frustration, sadness, and anger.

Listening is important, but it often proves difficult and is easily undermined by strong emotions and entrenched opinions. However, it’s important because these are the years of experimentation, a time when teens push against parental restraints and test their boundaries. Young people are exposed to sex and tempted with illicit substances.

Establishing a common ground for conversation and a meaningful dialogue may be difficult, but with openness and understanding, you can encourage your teen to listen with an open mind and make informed decisions that encourage healthiness without spending a lot of money in the process.

We know how challenging the journey of parenthood can be. To help you through this phase, read on!

Listening

As a parent, you’re used to having an authoritative relationship with your child. You may have found that relying on authority to get a teen to listen doesn’t work very well. Try to develop a more open and collaborative form of communication.

The Child Mind Institute suggests listening attentively to what your teen says. Don’t ignore or dismiss his feelings, even if it sounds irrational. Remember, now that he’s a teen, your primary role as a parent is to help steer him toward healthy decisions, not adopt a punitive stance that will only encourage rebellion. 

Set a Good Example

Being a good role model is never more important than when your children are teenagers. Don’t use tobacco or drugs, prepare healthy foods without spending a lot of money, put your seatbelt on every time you get in the car, don’t overindulge in alcohol, and never drive when you’ve had alcohol. If you need one, use a designated driver or call a rideshare service. If your teen is uninspired about school and you never finished  your degree, apply to an online program.

Also, if you don’t spend a lot of time exercising, chances are your child will pick up on that habit. So, make an effort to get moving for at least 30 minutes per day. This could ultimately encourage your child to get more active and take up a sport. If your child develops an interest in soccer, for example, get them the gear they need and show them you’re in their corner as they grow and learn the sport.

A Frank Discussion

If you haven’t discussed the dangers of drugs and alcohol, now’s the time to have that conversation with your teen. Reinforce the physical and psychological dangers, and remind him that drug use is illegal. Talk about why it’s important to eat healthily and get regular exercise, even if he’s not into athletics. Spend time with him. Go for walks together or do something he enjoys, like bowling or playing laser tag. If you both enjoy cycling, grab some new gear and hit the road.

Sex is usually the most difficult conversation any parent has with a child. It’s an uncomfortable subject for both parties. Parents are encouraged to broach the subject by adolescence, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Many parents dislike even bringing it up for fear it’ll somehow encourage a child to engage in dangerous behavior. Yet in many cases, having an open and frank conversation about the birds and the bees can strengthen your relationship and build a bridge of trust between you.

Teens sometimes appreciate a parent being candid with them and trusting that they’re mature enough to handle the subject. For teens, it’s a necessary conversation that can have a tremendous impact on their ability to make good decisions about intimacy.

The teen years are a challenge for most parents. Rely on logic and reason when talking with your child. Listen to what he’s telling you. Above all, stay consistent in your behavior toward him. And do what you can to support his sense of self-worth through the teen years, when self-confidence may be at a low ebb.

Remember to turn to Homeschool Daddy for more tips and ideas to help your child thrive!

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