Simple tips for staying connected to increasingly independent teens

By psychologist Jane Dodding

Staying connected to teenage children can feel difficult and frustrating, as they increasingly become more connected to their friends and peers than us.

It can sometimes feel like the only communication is us trying to get them to do something, change their behaviour or teach them something. And all we get in return is a grunt … if we’re lucky! Yet they seem to talk constantly to their friends – either in person or on social media.

Although this can be hurtful, it’s worth remembering that it is our responsibility as parents to maintain attachments with our children, to protect them and keep them close to ensure we are able to continue to influence and provide them with guidance and support. Here are some tips for maintaining communication and connection:

If you regularly have time away from your kids (working FIFO or DIDO etc) you will need to work on reconnecting when you return. Create a ritual – something you always do together when you return (e.g. frisbee on the beach, hiking, breakfast out, movie night at home).

If you’d like to read more on this topic, check out the great book Hold on to your kids: why parents need to matter more than peers, by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Matè.

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