We have heard some great tips for parenting teens so far this week on Imagine Hope's blog. Today we will review the fourth and final tip: 4. Build a relationship with them. As teens are appropriately distancing form you, they are letting go of the dependence they once had on you as their parents. Many parents struggle with this part of parenting, even though it is a normal and healthy part of development. It's important as a parent to not take this distancing personally. Having a relationship with them means you are the one stable thing in their crazy life, even it it is from a distance. Know it is healthy for them to disconnect from the family, and connect to friends and activities. But just because this is normal does not mean you do not have boundaries with them. Remember that having rules without a relationship will result in rebellion. As you develop this relationship, it is important to not smother your teen and to require mutual respect in the relationship. You are not to be their friend, but a boundary enforcer, supporter, prayer warrior, unconditional lover, and a stable force in their out of control world.
Don't forget that as you to master your role as the parent of a teenager, remember that you need support as well. Leaning on your spouse, friends, and loved ones through tough times and to seek out wise counsel is important. Be open to your teen reaching out to another trusted adult to help guide and mentor them. Being grateful that your teen has a support system outside of the family is a good thing! It encompasses the concept of "It takes a village to raise a child". As you attempt to succeed as a parent to a teen, stay focused on your role and remember: "This too shall pass".
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.