Three tips for a healthy relationship with your teen
Being a teenager can be very challenging – for both the teen and the parent. Parenting your teenager might feel easy at times and extremely difficult at others. Though it may feel impossible, the way you raise your teen plays a key role in the way they live their life as an adult and the relationship they have with you. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you navigate parenting your teen.
An important first step is to do your best to try and understand what your teen is going through. Being a teenager can be a tough time. Between school, friends, family, relationships, possibly a job, and the weight of everyone’s expectations for their future, teens are under an incredible amount of stress, which only seems to be getting worse in modern times. You were a teen once too, and so try to use your own experiences to empathize with your child. If they get into trouble or an argument with you, take a moment to think about what might be on their mind and use that to guide how you react. Approaching them with comfort and concern gives them space to open up to you and have a real conversation with you as opposed to a yelling match.
Another thing to keep in mind when parenting your teen is that respect is a two-way street. Are you returning the respect you expect your teen to give you, in equal measure? Just as you ask them to respect you and the things you provide to them, you should do your best to respect their boundaries, their privacy, and their possessions, especially those they purchased independently. Work to give them more freedom as they grow more independent and responsible. Work with them to set rules and boundaries instead of just handing them down. Teens often act out or show disrespect to their parents because they were first disrespected in some way. By setting up a respectful relationship from both sides, you will likely find less conflict and clearer expectations for your relationship. You can also show your respect for them by valuing their opinion and treating them as the young adult they are growing into.
One last thing that might help you with parenting your teen is to express genuine interest in what they are doing or the things they are passionate about. If their interests are foreign or unfamiliar to you, take time to learn and talk to your teen about those interests. Teens are creative, passionate, and have all sorts of swirling ideas that often need an outlet. You can be on the receiving end by engaging and Supporting them and their pursuits is important; it makes them feel validated, valued, and free to be who they want to be.
It can be difficult to see your teen grow up into their own unique person, especially someone who will rely less on you. It can be just as difficult for your teen to go through this transition as well. By taking considerations like these as you raise them, you can build a strong relationship with your teen, one that can remain strong long into their adulthood.
About Between Us and the author
Between Us is a grant-funded program from the Minnesota Department of Health that creates access to confidential reproductive healthcare for youth and young adults who receive their care at Hennepin Healthcare. Teens have the right to confidentiality for certain kinds of care under Minnesota’s Minor Consent Law. Between Us works to transform primary care into a more teen-friendly environment, welcoming teens and their parents, while also providing confidential care when needed.
Zach Schmit is an intern with Between Us and a Master of Public Health student at the University of Minnesota, studying community health promotion and sexual health. He is also a graduate assistant in the School of Social Work. Zach is most passionate about health equity for LGBTQ+ people, particularly teens and adolescents!