Whether fair or not, teenagers have somewhat of a bad rap. They’re stereotypically sullen, they talk back and they’re embarrassed by our very existence. Not always, of course, but parents can find their relationship with their child strained during the teenage years. And it’s not necessarily the kid’s fault.
Don’t act cool
One of the biggest cringe-worthy ways a parent can negatively impact their relationship with their teenage child is by trying to act too cool, Greenberg says. That includes, but is not limited to:
- Dressing like your kids or in attire that is inappropriate
- Using their vernacular (please don’t study and then attempt to use their slang)
- Attempting to gossip with them about their friends or drama at school
- Blasting (and dancing to!) their favorite music when they have friends over
Keep their secrets
If your teenage child confides something in you, you need to keep it to yourself. You might think it’s so cute that Emma has a crush, but when you gush about it on the phone to your sister or your best friend, it will sound like you’re making light of something that is sacred to her.
Don’t compare them to their friends
“Parents do this constantly,” Greenberg says. “‘Why can’t you be more like so-and-so; she’s so nice to her mother, or she gets good grades.’ It’s usually about grades.”
You are full of sage advice! You, too, have been a teenager and you know what they are going through! Except no, you don’t, because being a teenager now is much different than being a pre-smartphone-era teenager. And interrupting them doesn’t make them listen to you more closely anyway; it makes them tune you out.
It’s more important to listen to your kids than to be heard. They need to know that their words and feelings are important to you and interruption gives the opposite message—that what they’re saying isn’t important enough to listen to.
Don’t be critical about little things
Sure, you have to set some limits on what they can or cannot wear. But whenever possible, let go of stuff like wardrobe and hair style. You might think that outfit doesn’t even remotely match or they look so much better with their hair pulled back, but keep it to yourself.