Staying connected as a family during the teen years

Many parents also say they worry that when their children become teenagers, they won’t want to spend as much time with the family as they did when they were younger.

“I knew it had begun when my son said ‘Just drop me off round the corner from school, I don’t want anyone to see you dropping me off’ I was so tempted to drive to the front of the school and give him a big kiss in front of everyone, “but I said nothing and dropped him around the corner” Suzanne – Parent of Jake 13

One of the greatest challenges for a teenager is trying to establish their own independence, while keeping a loving relationship with their parents. The older children get, the busier they become and the harder it can be to find moments to connect. While it is normal for teenagers to begin to want to spend more time with their friends, it shouldn’t mean that they detach from their families. Parents need to take deliberate action to stay connected with their teenagers or to re-establish strong connections during this time.

Family connectedness not only gives teenagers a strong sense of belonging and emotional stability, it also has lasting effects on their health and wellbeing into adulthood. Teenagers who describe their relationship with their parents as warm, kind and consistent are more likely to be involved in positive social contact with other teenagers, struggle less with depression and anxiety and have higher self-esteem.

Taking a deep interest in your teenager will build a relationship that will consist of good open communication, mutual trust and respect.

Top Tips to help you find a few extra minutes with your teenager

  • Be involved in your teenager’s activities – at school, at sport, their hobbies.
  • Take an interest in your teenager’s friends. This will give you valuable insight how they are coping socially and emotionally, as well as connect you to the young people that are most important to your child.
  • Make the most of time in the car. Drive them to and from friends’ houses or outings and spend the travel catching up. When they are learning to drive, supervise their driving practice.
  • Make the most of everyday activities. Encourage them to help you cook meals in the kitchen or on the barbecue.
  • Exercise together. Go for a run, bush walk or sign up for a social team sport together.
  • Participate in activities as a family.

If you are keen to learn more on this, listen to this podcast with Karen Young.

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