Hazem, or Zoom as he prefers to be called, is a 15-year-old from Houston, TX. He enjoys fantasy novels, video games and chilling with friends. His favorite subjects are English, Literature and Chemistry. He wants to be an International Lawyer.
Many parents are under the false impression that their kids don’t want to be friends with them. The truth is, while it seems for a great portion of the time that that is the case, teens in fact strive to have a relationship with their parents. Of course it differs substantially from individuals and cultures but I believe it is safe to say that there lies certain do’s and don’ts all parents should generally be aware of before attempting to build a relationship with their kids beyond the simple, “How was your day at school?”
First and foremost, parents and teens need to have a powerful friendship. Teens want to feel that they can trust their parents to not judge them, mock them or punish them the second that their ears register their teen has done something bad. If the teen knows that their parents would beat them blindly or even merely verbally abuse them without hearing their case, for example, there is almost no chance that said teen would share with their parents anything wrong they’ve done.
The case is quite similar with interests and passions. Teens need to know that if they decide to share one of their interests or passions with their parents, they will listen to them for the sole reason that their kids are interested or passionate about these topics. For instance, if you work primarily with science and have minimal musical exposure and you reject your teen’s desire to share with you her new love for the clarinet, be sure that she will feel very bitter and will almost definitely refrain from sharing other things. Therefore, parents must never ridicule, judge or dismiss what their teens share with them. They must keep in mind that many of today’s youth think it’s “cool” to be independent and keep as much distance from their parents as possible.
Another good idea for parents to do is to tell their kids about their day. Many teens feel that most of their conversations with their parents are about them. Believe it or not, being the constant center of the conversation is not a good thing. If parents share with their kids as they would like to be shared with them, kids will get a better sense of the relationship and would feel more comfortable talking about school, their passions or whatever. Furthermore, while it is absolutely important for parents to keep a good eye on their kids to ensure their wellbeing, a distance must still be kept. There are few things today’s teens hate more than the feeling that they are being spied on. It gives them the sensation that they are not trusted and that their parents have a bizarre desire to control them. While in most cases that is not really the case, teens still feel very uncomfortable with that and many will block their parents from Facebook as soon as they get even a clue that they are spying on their lives through it. That is of course provided that the teen hadn’t done that the day they found out their parents joined!
These are just basic steps to building a solid foundation for a friendship between parent and teen. There is work beyond, for sure, but for the most part it will be related specifically to the teen and the parent will have the pleasure of finding it out as they grow closer together.
Photo Credit: Boris van Hoytema from Flickr