Ever tried to have a conversation with a moody, grumpy-ass teenager? It’s enough to make you question your life choices.
In all honesty, it’s tough. You want to make a meaningful connection at a critical point in their life, but there are times when it feels like you’re the only one trying.
If you feel your relationship is struggling, or suffering, here’s how to improve your relationship with a teenager.
Transition Your Relationship
Transitioning to adulthood is often associated with something THEY need to do, but you’ll also need to make changes. If you’re a parent, guardian, or mentor there are relationship precedents that will have to transition and change for your relationship to progress.
If you’ve spent the last decade trying to raise, protect, and prepare your child for independence it can be difficult to let go of that role.
As they approach adulthood, strive towards conversational tone you’d have with an equal and not someone who needs to be warned about sticking metal objects in electrical outlets.
Conversation you’d have with a seven year old:
“Don’t do that anymore”
“What did I tell you about sticking metal in there?”
“Do that again, and you’ll be sorry”
Conversation with a teenager:
“Have you thought about what would happen if…”
“What do you think about the consequences to that? You’re okay with it?”
You can still warn them, and help them make better decisions, without making them feel like a complete dumbass for putting metal in outlets.
See Also: How to deal with difficult people
Let Them Make Mistakes
One of the most difficult aspects of parenthood is watching your child struggle, or suffer. You go to great lengths to make sure they make it through the day without breaking any bones.
At some point in your relationship, you have to let them fall. And then you have to let them pick themselves back up without trying to fix it for them.
As long as they can’t cause permanent injury, or irreparably damage their future, give them room to breathe and make decisions. Help them understand the consequences (they tend to block out the bad possibilities), and then let them give life a go.
They’re going to be wrong, they’re going to make mistakes, but that’s just part of life.
And please don’t rub their nose in it, if they make a mistake. One of the more damaging things you can do to your relationship is bombard them with “I told you so”, when they fall down.
Their Life Is Complicated Too
The good old days of racing home and telling you every minor detail of their life is in the past. I’ve had hour long conversations about what happened during second grade recess. You can’t get them to shut up, sometimes. I get it, you like graham crackers.
When you’re in the moment, you don’t realize how much you’ll miss those conversations.
But you can’t expect that kind of interaction with a teenager. There is so much you don’t know. The details of their life they choose not to share are locked away for many different reasons. It’s more than just hormones, and being moody.
They don’t tell you things out of fear, regret, humiliation, shame… Their life and their emotions are incredibly complicated – and new.
Stuff they’ve never had to think about dominates their everyday existence.
Be patient. Empathize, and don’t dismiss their struggles as minor. You have struggles and real life problems. Your emotions are complicated, and not always easy to talk about.
They also have problems.
Related: 5 signs of an unhealthy relationship
They know you’re trying, and even if it’s difficult to make a connection they appreciate the effort. It doesn’t mean they want to talk, yet. But they do appreciate you.
There are going to be good days, and some really bad days, but it’s always worth the effort to try and improve your relationship.
If you stop trying, if you choose to give up, they’ll notice that too.