It's sometimes difficult to find ways to be involved with your
teen without totally intruding in his/her life. You want to talk
to them, they don't want to talk to you (most of the time
anyway). I've found the best way to connect with my teenage
daughter is to enter her world and do the things she likes to do.
There's a saying that if you want to understand your child's
world you have to play with them, no matter how old they are.
You don't always have to be even directly interacting with your
teen in order to be involved in their world. Just being around
the same influences they are, and taking an interest in their
activities, lets them know that you care and that you understand
what they deal with from day to day. Then later, at home, you
can talk about the things you have experienced together. It's a
great way to connect. Here are some ways my teenage daughter
and I have spent time together:
- My daughter was involved in a music group that did a lot of
fundraising that required a lot of involvement by the parents.
At first I was really resistant to the time involved, but I soon
realized how much fun it was to hang out with my daughter and the
other teens and their parents.
- School activities are another great way to be involved in your
child's life, at any age. When they're younger there's field
trips, class parties, etc., you can be involved with, but when
they get older there are activities like school plays that
parents are a very important part of. I've helped sell tickets,
worked at the bake sale...where I didn't even spend time with my
daughter at all, but it meant a lot to her that I was there
- Attending sporting events is also important to your child.
When they get older it seems like they don't really care if
you're there or not, but it is important to them even if they
don't say so. It makes them feel like you care about what they
- Helping my daughter with school projects has been a great way
for us to spend time together. She gets to do the hard part of
doing all the research and writing, and then I do the fun part of
helping her put it all together in the end. Even with older
teens, most of them don't particularly enjoy doing all this work
by themselves, even if you know they're completely capable of it.
I don't do the work for her, just help her by giving her feedback
on her ideas and giving her a hand. Often beforehand even I will
go to the library with her and help her sort through reference
materials. I know it means a lot to her, especially when she's
doing a huge project and is completely overwhelmed.
- Another way I've been involved with my daughter is to be a
youth leader in her church youth group. Again, I am not actually
spending time with her there most of the time, but I am
experiencing the same things she's experiencing and it's giving
us something in common that we can both relate to and discuss.
Those times together have been very meaningful.
As you can see, not all of these activities involve me actually
talking to and hanging out with my daughter. You know as well as
I do that our teens don't always want us hanging around them.
I'm happy for the time I do get to spend with my daughter, for
the little time I have left with her. When we have things in
common my daughter is much more likely to talk to me and share
her feelings with me. When I don't know what she experiences, it
is very hard for me to relate what she is going through. These
shared experiences have opened up many more opportunities for us
to share and connect that we wouldn't otherwise have.
Copyright 2002. Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and
Christian wife and mom. For complete resources for the Christian
home, visit her web site at http://www.Christian-Parent.com. To
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I enjoyed reading your article. Sound advice. As a parent of two teenagers (and one who thinks he is!), I agree that you don't have to be with them all the time in order to be involved. Showing an interest is often enough. They might not want you there, but they DO want to know you care. -- Hmmm. Maybe there's a poem here....