Be unconditional: investing in your teen takes time

By on June 5, 2015

You are your teenager’s biggest influence.

It’s statistically true, even if some days it feels hard to believe. The investments you make in your son or daughter will shape him or her for life.

No pressure, right?

According to Psychology Today:
“Parents vastly underestimate how closely they are observed and how constantly they are evaluated by their child. The child tends to idealize the parents, the adolescent tends to criticize the parents, and the young adult tends to rationalize the parenting received.”

It’s no wonder why parenting can wear us out. Toss in teen insecurities with our crazy schedules and we may begin to doubt our effectiveness as parents altogether.

Hang in there. You are able to make a difference, one moment at a time.

Become the go-to person for creating and making the most of family time together.

Here are some tips for creating the space to connect.

5 Routines of Family Time

  1. Daily: You can only give so many great bursts of energy and attention each day, so make sure your family gets one of those bursts. Aim for eating at least one daily meal together. Ask open-ended questions as you chat, like “What has you excited or concerned today?” or “What’s a question you’d like me to give you a clear and honest answer about?” Prioritize starting or ending your day in prayer. Never give up on this!
  2. Weekly: Arrange a regular “family” night or morning time that you all agree to honor. Give each member of the family the chance to rotate ownership of any choices that may be involved, like watching a movie, playing a game, or eating together.
  3. Monthly: Find something special to do each month, be it repeating activities you’ve enjoyed in the past or trying new ones. Ask local friends for ideas, and encourage your teen to likewise brainstorm among his/her own peers to deepen ownership of the final plans. It’s not always necessary for this to be an outing as much as a special time together.
  4. Quarterly: Every season requires new investments in who you each are and how you all live. Pick a day each quarter to spend all day investing in your home or yard, and then discuss what might be needed for every person to contribute as they can.
  5. Yearly: It’s healthy to plan a yearly event with each one of your kids, especially if there is a large age span between them. Teens may have special interests that can’t be explored with their younger siblings through typical family outings, such as rock climbing or a ski trip. Plan a unique outing that considers the uniqueness of your teen, even if it takes months to plan. As always, involve your son or daughter in the process.

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