Rituals of connection aren’t just for couples. Creating connection is something for the whole family. It’s a chance to create something important to hold onto through what can be an awesome, fun, messy and sometimes agonising ride of adolescence. Adolescence is the time in which we explore who we are, and with whom we belong. So much exploration and discovery, so many feelings. There’s a sense of ownership over our own world, we no longer need our parents and yet at the same time, we do need them. It’s all a normal part of growing up.
Here are five ways to connect with your Tween/Teen during this time:
Listen in a way that you haven’t before. They’re going to start saying things that you might disagree with and the next thing you know, you’re down a rabbit hole of telling them right from wrong. “My teacher is such an idiot.” Instead of telling them off for being disrespectful, roll with it first. “Why is Mr Young an idiot?” Then after you’ve shown to them that you’ve listened, you can end with “let’s not call people idiots”.
- Validate their feelings
This follows on from the above. Try to understand where they’re coming from. Notice I said understand rather than agree. You’re also not their friend, so you don’t have to agree with them about Mr Young, I’m sure he’s lovely. However, trying to understand what your teen is going through and then letting them know you understand will be great for them to feel that you’re a safe person to talk with about the hard stuff.
- Create Rituals
Find little things that you can both do together that creates a warmth in your relationship. It can be as simple as cooking dinner together on Wednesdays or having smoothies after swimming. They still need two things from you; boundaries and warmth. The more positivity and warmth you put into the relationship, the more the bond can handle the times of tension.
- Have one-on-one time
This follows on from above too; sometimes family life can get crazy and you need to make room for one-on-one time. Try connecting without any devices, put your phone down, encourage them to put their iPad down and find something they enjoy or are interested in that you can find interest in too – that’s not on a device.
- Show some appreciation
There is a term called “scaffolding;” the idea is the older your child gets, the more you need to let go of your guidance and direction as they start to gain skill and mastery. While they still need parents to maintain authority, by showing your appreciation for your child’s growing maturity and skill, you’re showing them that you respect their ability to navigate this world. Verbalise your appreciation, fondness, and admiration.
These rituals of connection can help us work through our feelings as we move through life’s transitions and stay connected, even when there’s conflict and tension. Doing these five things means you’re turning towards your child and securing your connection.