Having had almost one year under my belt as the parent of a teenager I can say with all certainty that parenting a teenager is basically as involved–perhaps even more so- as the parenting of a toddler or tween…
Now these almost adults are out in the world – and there is just an overload of information coming at them- that as parents- it’s really up to us to help them wade through it– but our biggest obstacle– them! These teenagers who refuse to give us more than one-word answers and “would die!” if we hung out with them at Roller Jam with their friends…So what’s a parent to do, knowing that they still have to parent their teenager- and be there for her/him- even when she implores them to “GET OUT OF MY ROOM!”–this quote comes directly from a friend of mine whose daughter just barked this statement at her!
Well- here are some wise words of encouragement from a mom who has been there and done that– and has two wonderfully successful adult kids to show for it…
Virginia Bentz, Ph.D., author of Quick Guide to Good Kids (Frederick Fell, 2007) has got some great ideas about ways to stay connected with teenagers.
— Read the same books here and there. One great suggestion is the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer. These 4 books are page turners, extremely well done, with a well-handled supernatural element. I guarantee you and your teenage daughter will both enjoy them. Then, you can see the movie of Twilight together when it comes out in December. (Your daughter will probably go with friends, but will want to see it more than once, is my guess.)
—Find an activity that you like to do together. One father I know bought a 1969 Mustang, and then he and his teenage son spend several years restoring it. This was great bonding time without the pressure. Both father and son share a love of cars of all kinds. This experience brought them closer.
–If you’re athletic, train together and plan a long distance bike ride one summer. This is good for moms and dads as well as sons and daughters. It’s exciting, it’s something they’ve never done before, it’s something they’ll always remember, and it’ll give you several uninterrupted weeks of time together. (Not to mention great material for those “What I Did Last Summer” essays that are assigned in the fall.)
–Participate in a church mission trip together. Volunteering is about working together, but also about recreation after hours, and having lots of free time to talk about anything in the world for that week or two. In addition you both walk away with the good feeling of time not wasted but put toward actions that make you feel better about life.
–Learn cooking together by watching any of the Famous Chefs on the cooking channel. Watch it done, get the recipe, and try it together in your own kitchen. Cooking is one of those things you always wish you knew how to do, but you need someone to work with or model on. Voila, Rachel Ray!
Teens are really very naive about the world, and there are lots of things they’ve never done that would be possible with a parent but not alone. One single father I know took his teenage daughter to Mount Kilimanjaro on vacation one summer. They’re bonded for life. He admits he’ll never top that one. She’s a lawyer now.