It’s natural, as your child grows from toddler to teen, that she will become more involved with friends and activities outside the home. However, if you feel like you are completely losing contact and association with your child, check your own attitude and behavior to make sure you aren’t contributing to the problem. Here are three things parents often do without realizing it that could, in fact, be driving your teen further away from home:
- Being too critical or controlling. A parent that hovers or checks every action of their teen might be too controlling. If you not only have to know where your teen is going, but every minute detail you are being not only controlling, but also critical of their decision making process. Teenagers need a little bit of leeway to learn to express their individuality. They need to learn to make decisions on their own without the help of their parents. This is one of the hardest concepts you will ever face as a parent, but it is a necessity. Parents who continue to critique or control the decisions of their teenagers will find their relationships suffer. The goal as a parent is to guide your child through teenage years as you build a relationship with them. This is not done with control but mutual respect and trust.
- Forcing interaction. While family involvement is important, forcing your child to attend family events could backfire. Yes, your teen could attend the event, but they won’t have a good attitude and may negatively impact others, as well. These forced interactions will not produce the family bonds for which you are hoping. Instead, it is important to plan positive family activities that your teenager will want to participate. Find things that interest your child and include those as family events.
- Not asking them to be involved. While your teen doesn’t want you to control or force their interactions with the family, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be there. It’s important to involve your teen in planning events as well as asking them to attend. It’s important to remember that even as your teenager seems to be pushing you away, they still need you and want to involve you in their life. You just have to make more of an effort so that your teen feels connected and understands that they can have relationships both with their family and their peers. Involving your teenager in planning family activities and events helps to create this understanding. The key is to make sure you are involved in the planning together. Simply letting your teen plan an event does not promote involvement, it is the process of working together that makes it effective.
While your teenager will begin to find new interests and spend more time with friends, it is not impossible to blend both family time and friend time. If you will take the time to stay involved with your teen without taking over, you can establish a strong relationship that will not only take your through the teen years but well beyond.
Dr. A. Lynn Scoresby is the founder and president of www.firstanswers.com, www.achievementsynchrony.com, and www.6innovations.com. He has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years and published more than 20 books/training program.