When we’re children, our whole world is at home. Our parents are our favorite people, and everything we need is taken care of in the house where we live. However, as we grow older, that changes. Once we become teenagers, our lives take place more outside of home than in it.
Home is still important, of course. However, what’s notable at this time is that it can become difficult for parents to feel involved in their teens’ lives. When they were little, they clung to you for every little thing. Once they hit age 13, they seem to not want to be around you anymore.
Numerous studies show that parental involvement, as much as teens might fight it, is a key ingredient for healthy, well-adjusted teens. So how can you be more involved in your teen’s life?
1: Help with Homework
You probably remind your teen to do her homework every day. But how often do you actually sit with her and help? Helping with homework can help you better understand what your child is actively involved in at school each day. It can allow you to troubleshoot problems and struggles, and open up conversations about school, life, and the world, that you wouldn’t otherwise have. If your child prefers to do homework solo, consider sitting together during homework time all the same. You have your own projects to take care of, and just being nearby can still help you to be involved.
2: Watch her Favorite Shows
You might also consider listening to her favorite music, or reading her favorite books. Many teens closely relate emotional development and awareness with the media that they consume. Consider how passionate your discussions were with friends about music, art, and movies during your teen and young adult years. Engage in these conversations by getting up to speed with the media. Not everything your teen likes will be to your taste, but if you have an open mind, it’s easy to find common ground and common interests.
3: Get to Know Her Friends
As your teen’s life starts to revolve more and more around her peer group, you can still be dialed in to what’s happening. Seize the opportunity when friends come over to have small talk with anyone your daughter spends her time with. Listen without judgement to the dramas and changes that happen in your teen’s relationships. Impart advice judiciously and look for the good in everyone that your child cares about.
4: Be a Teacher
Parents of teens often find themselves wondering when they need to be “friends” to their daughter, and when they need to put on the “parent” cap and lay down the law. One way for you to respect your teen’s growing capabilities, while still reinforcing your authority, is to find opportunities to teach. Although your teen is growing in leaps and bounds, and becoming more and more familiar with the adult world, there are still plenty of things she needs to learn: how to handle finances, how to juggle a social life, how to drive, how to prepare for the professional world, and how to foster life skills that she’ll need when she’s independent, such as cooking for herself and doing her laundry.