Last week, I posted advice for teens on how to better connect to the adults in their lives, excerpted from an interview I did with my good friend (and award winning author!) Lela Davidson. This week, I wanted to share more advice from the same interview. So here's four tips on how adults can connect with teens.
1. Partnership over parenting.
While teens still need guidance to avoid risky and impulsive behavior, parents have already often done the instruction. They've told them about the perils of drug use and the importance of studying. Now it's time to walk alongside their teen, to be there when needed - for support and for encouragement.
Dr. Ryan Rana, one of my favorite professors, calls this idea the balancing of relationship and discipline. I think of it as being a partner over a parent. The end goal, is to be able to let go of the habit of disciplining our children and land in a healthy relationship with them.
2. Authenticity is important.
Our teenagers are still paying attention to what we say and do. Be authentic. Discuss how you feel about things. Talk about how you respond to particular situations. When you talk about yourself, you give your teen permission to borrow your ideas, and to feel what you feel.
This kind of vulnerability and authenticity is not something teens get from others and so it is a positive opportunity for connection. This does not involve telling them how they should feel or what they should do; just sharing you and your experiences and letting them take what they need.
3. Be prepared to forgive your teenager for doing things that seem irrational.
It is not easy to be a teenager. I cannot emphasize this enough. The current culture is a difficult environment in which to grow up. It is filled with mixed messages and many unspoken rules. Offer grace.
4. Treat teens like you want them to treat you.
To see the rest of this interview, please visit Lela's site.