Sunday, January 22, 2012

How Do You Connect With Your Teenager?


Teenagers need your time. I know they say that they don't want your time and they come up with every conceivable excuse to avoid time with family, but giving your teenager your time is still the best way to connect with them and maintain a relationship through those challenging years.

It's true that teenagers don't always want to spend the kind of time that WE want them to spend with us, so it's important to be there for the things that THEY want to do. That means showing up to support them in their world.

I will leap tall buildings to try and be at every sports game, orchestra concert, school play, or piano recital involving my teenagers. Regardless of what the event may be, my attendance is very important to them. They may downplay the importance, but I know they stand a little taller when they see me in the crowd. 

This weekend I spent half of Friday and all of Saturday watching my daughter's volleyball tournament. Her team lost every game and I was there for every point. Every time she ran onto the court, she would peek over at me and smile. She didn't care so much about the score, but she did care that I was there to experience the event with her.

This past fall I attended my first cross country meet. I wasn't there because I suddenly discovered great entertainment value in the sport of cross country. I was there to support my son who was on the team. If you've never attended a cross country meet, let me paint you a picture. About 50 kids line up on the starting line. They fire the starting gun and for the first 100 meters it looks like a store opening on Black Friday. Runners are pushing a shoving their way onto the course. Then you wait...and wait...and wait. About 18 minutes later, runners start crossing the finish line. I began to wonder if I really needed to be there. But after each 5K my son would excitedly come up to me and explain how he ran a personal best time, or how the hill on the 3rd lap was really challenging. I would smile and give him a high five. Then he would run off to be with his friends. 

Today I am sitting in Starbucks writing this blog post and my daughter is sitting next to me drinking a hot chocolate and reading her book. Even though we are not talking, we are connecting. Never underestimate the value of your presence in the lives of your teenagers. It will always be time well spent.


Valerie said...

I commented your post in a reunion and a lot of teens parents asked to read it. I just forwarded it... and I'm sure it will "help" more than one! Very helpful and great inspiration for parents - like me - who are starting with teenagers. Thanks a lot.

PixieGirl said...

I will NEVER forget Gibson's first cross country meet. When he passed you on his first lap and looked you right in the eyes with that "Aren't you proud of me Dad!" kind of look!

He didn't care who else was cheering him on, as long as YOU were there to see him.

When I was in High School I was on the track team, the diving team and on a competitive cheerleading squad. Through all my years of High School competitions, my dad only came to one. But to this day I can remember how much it meant to me to have him there!

john said...

Starbuck's, Tim Horton's and the local breakfast joint are the places where I exchange the most words with my two teenage sons. And in the car when we are driving somewhere. I take what I can get which is why we go out for breakfast a lot :-)