Six simple steps to staying friends with your adolescent

Counseling Corner
Graphic by Robyn H. Jimenez/The Dallas Examiner

 

American Counseling Association

 

Adolescence is a difficult stage for both teens and their parents. While most parents recognize adolescence as a time when young people are learning to be more independent, many are unsure about how to loosen the reins and allow more freedom.  After years of making decisions for the child, it’s now time to step back and watch the teenager experiment.

Here are some simple suggestions for maintaining that role of parent, but also for being a friend.

Be loving. If you have a close, loving relationship with your child, then don’t change that. If it hasn’t been that loving, make it so now. This is the time when love, attention and affection are needed more than ever. Keep hugging your child and don’t stop praising and validating him or her.

Talk and listen.  Teenagers don’t want to be lectured, but often need to talk. Have something interesting to say besides, “How’s school?” And be a good listener. Teens will share thoughts and feelings if they know it’s safe to share and that you’re really paying attention.

Spend time together. Giving your teen your time and full attention tells your child he or she really matters to you. Invite your teen on shopping trips and outings of their choosing.

Show respect and trust.  Many teens say adults always want respect but don’t think they have to give respect.  Teenagers want to be trusted to make good decisions and choices; to show their integrity; to make mistakes and to deal with the consequences. They’re anxious to show they’re growing up but need assurances that they’re doing it well.

Be interested.  Take a sincere interest in their hobbies, music and their sports teams. Stay close and available, but don’t barge in or crowd their lives. You don’t have to even like all the things your teen likes. Just learn enough to hold a solid conversation.

And don’t…  Don’t dump your problems, worries and cares on your teen. Don’t embarrass or humiliate your child in front of friends to make a point or exert control. Don’t be judgmental or compare your teen to other teens. Don’t ever start a sentence with, “In my day…!”

Adolescents want a good, healthy life for themselves. They really want to do the best that they can. Let them have their own dreams and help them fulfill them. Be a friend, helping them as they find their way into adulthood.

 

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions can be sent to acacorner@counseling.org or visit http://www.counseling.org.

 

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