Connect with Your Teenager

Connect with your Teenager

It can be quite a challenge to connect with your teenager.

The teenage years come with a lot of tensions, a lot of already-but-not-quite-yets. Teens grow in independence and autonomy, making their own decisions and forming their own opinions… but they also need you to do basic things like sign them up for Drivers Ed or make their doctor’s appointments.

As your children grow into full blown teenagers, it may seem like all they do is withdraw- spending time alone in their room, playing video games, or glued to their phone. The good news is that this is totally normal and developmentally appropriate! You’re not alone.

So how as parents do you respect that developmental need for space while continuing to strengthen your relationships? How do you connect with your teenager despite their best efforts not to? Here are a few quick ideas to keep in mind.

  1. Ask open ended questions.
    • The questions we ask can make all the difference! It’s so tempting to ask “how was your day?” but more specific or creative questions can invite unexpected conversation. Try asking “What was the best part of your day?” or “What made you laugh today?”
    • Ask about projects, assignments, or art. Is your child creating something? “Tell me about __.”
    • Show interest in their friends. While they may not be upfront about what they’re going through, sometimes you can gain a lot of context with what their friends are dealing with.
  2. Show Interest in the things they’re interested in.
    • You don’t have to be crazy about Minecraft or K-Pop just because your kids are. But when teenagers feel heard and valued, they’re more likely to open up! Listen to understand when they share their interests.
    • Affirm them by planning things to support their interests. Maybe that means you have a family tennis night or set aside an afternoon to visit an indie bookstore.
    • Read the books that they’re reading. This has double benefits. One- you can hold a conversation about the topics they’re going through. Two- you’ll know if they need some parental guidance for the content.
  3. Lean into quiet car rides.
    • At least in my car, I have a tendency to fill the silence with music, sermons, or podcasts. However, when I leave the sound off, my children fill the silence with their observations and songs.
    • Don’t be afraid of empty space. It creates an opportunity for children to share, without face to face eye contact.
    • This could also apply to activities like fishing, gardening, working together on a car, or cooking.
  4. Create family rhythms of connection.
    • This will look different for every family. With little ones, mealtimes and bedtime are these special daily moments that we have to connect. Even if it’s just once a week, family dinner at the table can make a huge difference!
    • Make use of the time you’re already together. How can you use your drive to school to pray for and bless your child?
    • Think through the ways that your family already works. If everyone gets home late from church on Wednesday nights, maybe you have milk and cookies at the table before bed. Maybe you have Saturday morning breakfast together each week. Institute a family walk in the evenings while one parent gets dinner on the table.

If you’re here, it’s because you care about the relationship you have with your child. We are praying for you as you seek to disciple and connect with your teenager. Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not easy! But you have been uniquely equipped for this journey as the parent of your children.

You can find helpful information like this and more every other week on the It Takes a Village Podcast. This podcast is hosted by the Youth Ministry Staff and offers insights and practical ideas for parents of teenagers. Listen this coming Monday for our next episode about helping your child create healthy boundaries around cell phones! And be sure to check out all the Parent Resources we have available.

Chelsea Judkins

Chelsea Judkins

Chelsea Judkins is the Girls Minister at FBCA. She and her husband Kyle have two children, Lucy and Theodore. Chelsea enjoys hiking, cooking, and having coffee dates with the youth girls!

Recent Posts

Making The Most of Their Last Summer

By Chelsea Judkins | June 9, 2024

Your child’s senior year overflows with lasts: the last football game, the last curtain call, the last dance, the last awards ceremony. Until finally… the last day of…

The Problem of Pain

By Curt Grice | May 17, 2024

Pain comes in a wide array of shapes, sizes, sources, and solutions. At some point, in some way, everyone experiences it. You could say that “pain” is one…

The True Meaning of Forgiveness: Don’t Give Up

By Ryan Chandler | May 15, 2024

Has anyone ever done something so terrible to you that you labeled it “unforgivable?” Then, today’s blog is for you. Forgiveness is one of the most challenging ideals…

10 Reasons Not to Go to Church

By Luke Stehr | May 14, 2024

Life throws curveballs, and sometimes that means missing church. But at FBC Arlington, we’ve got your back. Whether you’re in a hospital bed, lacking a ride, or welcoming…