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Parenting is hard, then there is parenting for teenagers which is even harder. For a parent trying to strengthen a connection with a teenage child, building that connection requires trust. The connection cannot be forced, hence you will be gradually chasing them away from you, and rather it takes a slow process that requires patience and persistence.

Do not assume that you know everything about your children. The more they grow older, the more you need to know them over again without making assumptions or being judgmental. As teenagers, what they require from you their parent is support, guidance, and discipline. There are three basic things you need to connect with a teen: an open mind, a sense of equality, and a supportive attitude. Remember those three things, and you’ll have a closer relationship in no time.


1.   Give Listening Ears

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Start by getting to know your teen’s interests and their social and school life. If you find yourself completely clueless about any of those things, just ask. This is especially true for those of you who are building a brand-new relationship with a teen, like foster parents or relatives. A big key to getting your teen to open up is to find common ground. Talk about your own life and what your social and work life are like. You do not need to pretend you are also experiencing everything your teen is going through, but a sense of relatability can do wonders for your relationship. If you don’t seem to relate with them about anything, don’t panic. This is a good opportunity to be quiet and just listen.

If you want to get to know them and why they are the way they are, you have to really listen to what they’re saying without making it about you. Engage with them, ask questions about what they’ve said, and don’t shut them down if they say things you dislike or disagree with. Open-mindedness is crucial if you want to build that trust and prove that you’re not going to reject them for who they are.


2.   Create Time for Them

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You might feel that your teen does not want you in their space, what they actually want is one-on-one time with you—just on their terms. Once you learn about their interests and hobbies, suggest trying one of them out together and let your teen decide what to do. When teens feel overcrowded or micromanaged, they can get resentful and distance themselves. But if they feel like you are interested in spending time with them doing something they like, they are more likely to take you up on the chance to do something together. Learn about your teen’s love languages and how they show and receive love. This can be a great tool for bonding and building shared boundaries.


3.   Be Sincere with Your Support

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Holistic support should be showered on your teenage kids, comprising of physical, emotional, and financial support. You have to be present in your teen’s life if you want them to open up to you. This doesn’t just mean being physically present, like showing up to their games or recitals. It also definitely doesn’t mean that you can give your teen money and expect that they’re going to pour their heart out to you.

Supporting your teen means that while you’re going to show up for them in the good moments and highlights, you’re also paying attention to when they’re struggling and showing that you want to be there for them through the hard times as well. It can be really difficult for a teen to open up when they’re struggling, so this is when you have to be patient. Prove that you’re not going anywhere and that you won’t reject them for their situation. Show love and encouragement to them while they navigate life at this age.

Connections take time, just like everything else in life. Be patient, open, and real, and you’ll find that parenting a teenager isn’t so scary after all.

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