January 22, 2014 —

As parents, we have the responsibility of guiding our teens into healthy adulthood. There are plenty of voices trying to influence their decisions. If we want them to trust us and hear what we have to say, they have to be convinced that we care.

Here are a few recommendations for convincing your teens that you care:

Slow down and listen to them.
Even when you think you know what they're gonna say…let them say it. They will talk to someone. Make sure you're on that list.

Learn about the things that they love.
You don't have to share their same preferences, but you will miss out on tremendous opportunities for connection if you don't learn something about the things that they love and why they love those things.

Spend time doing fun things with them.
This probably seems obvious, but it's so easy to neglect. The time goes by so quickly! They have to know that you are a real person who likes to have a good time.

Help them pursue their passions.
My parents did all that they could to make sure I had opportunity to do what I loved. (For me, that happened to be skateboarding!) I want the same for my kids. My resources are limited, but I want them to know I'll do what I can to help them find out what they love and then pursue it.

Give up something you care about so they can have something they care about.
It can be as small as allowing them to have control of the remote when you'd prefer to watch something else. Other times, you may have to make larger sacrifices to allow them to do something they need to do. When we give up something, it's putting our actions behind our words. It not only shows them that you care, but it also shows them that you are willing to put their needs above your own.

The goal in all of this is to make it clear that we, as their parents, do have their best interests in mind.

We want our teens to know that we're not just making our decisions based on what's convenient for us. We're trying to help them have the best life they can possibly have. If they are convinced of these things, we have a much better chance of helping them engage in positive behaviors and avoid the pain associated with negative behaviors like cough medicine abuse.

 

Mike Burns is a father-of-six that lives in Phoenix, AZ. He blogs about living well and focusing on what's most important at theothersideofcomplexity.com.  He and his wife, Jen, also write about intentional parenting at sotheycanfly.com. You can connect with Mike on Twitter (@mikemikeburns) and Facebook (facebook.com/theothersideofcomplexity; facebook.com/sotheycanfly).