Keeping the lines of communication open with your teenager
They are not wrong when they say that the days are long, but the years are short. My oldest is a sophomore in high school and fully capable of walking himself to the school bus stop. My son has flown across the country by himself and doesn’t need his mommy walking him to the bus stop. My older daughter is in middle school, and she doesn’t need me either.
But as they both put on their backpacks, they look at me expectantly and ask, “Are you ready?” And then we walk the short path to the bus stop in the early morning before the sun even rises. Every day I make three separate walks to the bus stop, one each for the older kids and then one more time for the younger two. It is in these few minutes before their school day starts that we find time to connect. If you are raising kids of any age, you know that it can be hard to find time with them. And if you have multiple kids? Forget it. Time is a luxury.
Why do I do it if they do not need me?
Why do I do it? If I didn’t walk the kids to their bus stops, I would easily gain 30 extra minutes in my morning and again in my afternoon. But I would lose out on time to connect with my children.
My oldest will be applying for colleges soon. It is during these early morning walks that my son opens up to me about things he’s listening to, books he’s reading, the upcoming math test, or his apprehension about being able to juggle his school work and his extracurricular activities.
My daughter chats about her classes, friendships, the after-school clubs she wants to join, her apprehension that there won’t be a soccer season if not enough girls sign up for our recreation league.
Walking the littles to school is more leisurely. We talk about their teachers and what they do at recess. It’s this time where they can sneak in an extra hug before their bus arrives or hold my hand for a little extra reassurance.
But for each child it is a time of reassurance. Mom is still there when they need her.
My kids used to tell me everything, and now they don’t
It is typical for children between the ages of 9 and 13 to start distancing themselves from their parents. They stop sharing as much information. They may spend more time up in their rooms behind closed doors or out with friends. This behavior is typical as pre-teens and teenagers begin establishing their independence.
Adolescents do not want to share as much information with their families. Think about this time in your life, did you tell your parents everything?
According to Teen Line, a non-profit, community-based organization that provides emotional support to youth, there are several reasons why your teenager isn’t telling you everything:
- They want to do things on their own without you fixing it.
- They don’t want to worry or overwhelm you.
- They don’t think you will understand.
- They think you will not approve of their behavior.
Keeping the lines of communication open
It is essential that during this time of spreading their wings that parents remain steadfast.
My years of working with adolescents in middle school taught me that teenagers want:
- Stability. As much as teens want to try new things, they crave stability. They like routine and know what is expected. No matter how far they venture out of their safety net, they want to see that you are still right there.
- To know that they are loved. Teenagers can be impulsive and make some big mistakes. They want to know that no matter how much they have screwed up that you still love them.
- To be accepted. In a time of teenage angst and insecurity, the adolescent in your life wants you to accept them for who they are, even if it isn’t who you expected them to be.
You can keep those lines of communication open when you spend time with your teen. The best thing to do is listen.
I’ll keep taking those bus stop walks with my children for as long as possible. Sometimes there isn’t much talking in those early mornings, and all we’re doing is walking together. But sometimes, that is all they need; to know that you are there even when they have nothing to say.
How do you stay connected with your teen? Let me know in the comments.
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