Make a Date With Your Tween\Teens
All parents face the inevitable with their kids. The warm, fuzzy, cute, adoring, child was just that until say, 5th grade, definitely by 6th, for sure. Then, they changed, wanted space, wanted to be with friends, did not want to hang out with mom or date for long, if at all. Parents tried to bridge it by being around, something the tween\teen silently did not want. The more the parent tried to "hold on", the worse the once fuzzy relationship got as they wanted independence. Similar to a marriage where one partner claims it is over, and the other, clings or denies it.
The tween and teen years are not unlike that for parents. For parents, it is so hard to let go of an image of our kids when they were younger, we tend to get stuck in the past and treat them as if they have not changed. There is no greater love than from parents, and yet, for the tween\teen, they are moving on, changing, becoming young adults who do not want parents around too much. Parents misinterpret this as a sign of losing love or contact with their kids, the kids think nothing of it because they are breaking away. That is the dilemma.
Even the days of helping them with homework, are pretty much gone when in middle school and high school, unless they are desperate. After school activities and friends take a further bite out of any time spent with your older kids. Face it- they really need you for food, a place to live, money, taxi service. In return, the parents get, an occasional hug, scintilla of love, problems, and a bare minimum of time spent with them.
As a parent of older kids, you can arrange with them a time, once a week, to do an activity together. During this time, insist the cellphone if muted or off. This is will turn off distractions. When planning the activity, make suggestions but make sure the teen provides suggestions. Do what they like to do, even if you could yawn about it. In essence, you are making date with your older kids. Great places are movies (let them pick it out), restaurants, shopping for clothes\shoes, sport events or activities that both parent and teen are able (tennis, soccer, baseball, volleyball, come to mind). During a conversation, whenever that is, talk about what they are into, not about you like. Don't be an interrogator (which is SO hard to not do) with question after question. Ask about their school or how their week has gone, is there anything you need to know, upcoming events.
If, as a parent, you need some affection from your kid, just give them a quick hug, kiss on the cheek. Odds are they will like it even though they will not usually be proactive about it. As this quick moment flies by, say, "I love you". Their response usually is, "Love you , too". For any parent, that IS what makes everything okay.
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