Well, as of 3 weeks ago, I officially have two teenagers. I feel like I have leveled up in the mom life. Two teens is like two toddlers. I get a little more respect from other moms. Not as much as the mom with three or four teens, and certainly not as much as the mom with teens AND toddlers. Let’s not kid ourselves, those moms should have their faces put on a stamp or some sort of US currency. But having a couple teenagers is an adventure.
Is parenting them a walk in the park? Not exactly. But is it a million times less physically exhausting than when I was moving carseats and wiping bottoms and chasing toddlers in parking lots? A-HECK yeah.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It is…tricky. I don’t like to say it is harder or easier than parenting littles…it is just DIFFERENT. I will also tell you, the “mom tools” I picked up in other seasons don’t translate well to parenting adolescents. Trent and I make mistakes all the time with our kids, and we learn through trial and error what works and what doesn’t. What motivates them? What embarrasses them? What makes them feel loved and what irritates them? (Don’t misinterpret–we still make choices that irritate them, and we DEFINITELY do things that embarrass them. Often. And on purpose.)
But I’ve noticed a few ways that I have been able to connect…with both of my teenagers–ages 15 and 13, a boy and a girl. Nothing has a 100% track record, but these are pretty close.
3 Tips for Connecting with Teens
1. Feed them. Seriously! Surprise your kid with a special treat or drink (bonus points if it is something you usually say no to) and they will forget you are the most embarrassing human alive. For my kids, it is often Dutch Bros or Great Harvest scones. Once I had an entire 12 inch sub sandwich waiting for my son after school. He was THRILLED. And ate the entire thing at 3:30 pm and had no trouble eating dinner at 6:00.
2. Laugh with them. Find something you both think is funny, even if you have to hunt a little! Maybe it is a sitcom, or memes, or movies. Whatever it is, visit the comedy well often and laugh with your kid. If you can’t think of anything, ask your teen what makes them laugh, and work hard to find the humor.
3. Don’t stop hugging them. Most teens won’t initiate physical contact, but they still need healthy, loving physical touch from their parents! If you wait until the right moment (Usually when they are tired, like first thing in the morning or late at night. Like toddlers!), they will be more open to it. Offer to scratch their back, comb their hair, massage their shoulders or give them a hug. Don’t push if they aren’t wanting it, but don’t stop offering. Even big kids need to be reminded their grown ups love them.
What are your tips for connecting with teens? I’d love to hear from you!