This list of what a teenager needs was written in 2004 by my then teen daughter. She was helping me develop a course for parents of teens I was presenting at a Buddhist conference/
- Support. Anything from going to a soccer game, a dance recital or school event shows that you care about the teen. These efforts show them that you are interested in their life and happiness..
2. Love. Even though they won’t admit it, teens like to hear they are loved by their parents. If they don’t hear that you love them, they will believe you don’t.
3. Listen. Teens are constantly told by adults that what they think and feel doesn’t matter. The result is that teens feel devalued and unimportant because they believe nobody cares about them. Really listen to what your teen has to say with curiosity and interest not judgment and criticism. This simple act can mean a lot to a teen and is the most meaningful way to show you love them and are grateful they are your child.
4. Be open. Tell your teen important issues in your lives. A teen knows when something is wrong with his or her parents and feels unimportant when family or private issues are kept from them. Note: if you feel your teen will worry too much, still tell them just much more gently. They will be able to tell something’s wrong and will worry that the worst will happen.
5. Believe in them. Look objectively beyond their imperfections, messy rooms and struggle for power and independence. See their positive personal qualities such as courage, confidence, sense of humor, caring for others, wonderful friendship skills, creativity or love of music or dance that are developing. (Probably away from home.) Share with them specific times you have seen their strengths. Teenagers are their own worst critic. Be their best ally.
What makes it hard for you to give your teen what he or she needs? What emotional triggers get in the way? How much of your childhood is impacting your ability for you to be present and in the moment with your teenager?
©2013 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 24 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.