You get to stay younger. You get to keep up on the latest trends. You get to have them tell you if your clothes are just a little too old fashioned. You get to stay up on music. You get to stay active with them. You get to enjoy their new discoveries. You get to enjoy them growing and deciding who they are now.
Raising teens is a blast!
And, then. There are those Dark Days of Parenting Teens. – Those days other parents further along told you about. You never thought the day would come when you would think, “I’m not sure I like my teen!”
The teen years are where young women and young men are discovering who they really are. What they believe. What they feel. What they stand for.
These are the years they decide if they want to adopt your values or if they want to choose a different path for themselves.
And you know what?
You want them to discover the answers to these questions for themselves during this time in their lives.
Because no one enjoys a midlife crisis. And working through these questions now can help prevent working through them later.
Yes. You still have influence. But now, their friends and other authority figures have even more sway in their lives.
The rejection teens give parents at times can be brutal. Guess what, though? They still need you. They need you to be strong in who you are and how much you love them.
They are usually going through insecurities that are sometimes mind numbing to them. Regardless of what they say to you and the mistakes they might make, it is vital to communicate your love for them. -Even when they let you know your rules are dumb and you can’t control them!
Here Are 5 Ways to Let Teens Know They’re Loved Even On The Dark Days
1. Take them out to lunch, dinner, coffee, yogurt, etc.
This sort of sounds like, “Just feed them!” And it sort of is just that simple. Some years back, I had four children at home. Continuing to have a relationship with the teens was very important to me. -So I began taking one child out every Saturday for an inexpensive breakfast. Some days we would simply sit and eat in silence. And some days the conversation was wonderful! -I especially enjoyed the breakfasts where one of my offspring would let me know what the other children were up to! Those are great memories. I know I let my teens know they were important. I intentionally loved them enough to spend one-on-one time with them on a Saturday morning.
2. Send them texts.
Let them know you’re thinking of them. Quick texts of affirmation and love work great! Texts of “I love you!” “Go Get Them!” “Ignore the Stupid People!” “Don’t eat dirt today!” -Just send them fun texts of encouragement. (That way, they’ll keep looking at your texts later on!)
Life is busy and hectic and tedious and full. And. And. And. Even so, STOP. Take time to give your full, 100% attention to your teen telling you about their life. Turn off the radio. Put down the phone. Turn off the TV. Listen to them. And do just that. Just listen to understand their world. Don’t comment. If your teen is on a role of telling you about their world, don’t comment with any disagreement. You’ll have time to bring it up later. Spend time listening to them.
4. Do what they like to do
Guess what? I don’t really enjoy go carts. Never have. And I really don’t like a certain style of music. I don’t like video games, either. And – If someone talks to me about computers, it takes a lot of effort to stay focused and try to understand their language. All of that really doesn’t matter. My teens have gone through phases where they absolutely LOVED things I really didn’t care about or like. Being intentional about loving them means doing what they like to do. Getting in their world shows them they are important enough to expand my experiences.
5. Get to know their friends
Be careful about this one. Try not to be a private investigator about it. But when your teens are telling you about their friends, pay attention. Ask questions. Meet their friends. Take your teens and their friends out. I have really enjoyed some of my teens’ friends. Some still refer to my husband and myself as their second parents. Our teens have let us know they appreciate us taking the time to get to know and accept their friends. Our teens feel loved when we make time to get to know their friends.
The days are long. The years are short.
The teen years will fly by. Enjoy them. Build a foundation for when your teens are young adults. Don’t burn bridges while they are teens.
Keep them knowing you love them – Even on Dark Days of Parenting Teens.
How will you love your teen this week? What are some other ways you your teen know you love them?
-Kate Pieper, LMFT – Executive Director
The above isn’t professional counseling. If you or your teen are interested in professional counseling, give us a call. The therapists at Selah Counseling Services would be delighted to help you. firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-268-1355 ext. 1 – We’re conveniently located between Grass Valley and Auburn, California.