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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Finding Time To Connect WIth Older Teens

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As any parent of a teenager knows, it can get extremely hard to find time to share some quality time, especially with juniors or seniors in high school, and during this time of year. With the school year ending, SAT tests, SAT subject tests, AP exams, finals and college counseling, not to mention the normal things that may include sports, drama, music, community service, friends, romantic friends, and work, teens are struggling to get enough sleep and avoid starvation - not spend time with their parents!

Sorry to burst your bubble, but we are not even likely to rank in the top 20 of their priority list! For many parents, our role in their busy young lives is to be taken for granted - our love, support, car, money, organizational skills, and physical comfort - are expected to be available on demand. An occasional "thank you" melts our hearts and the pride we feel in their accomplishments keeps us coming back for more opportunities to be taken advantage of.

Other parents may feel like the jilted lover - alone for no apparent reason - reacting badly to the sense of abandonment, and feeling peevish that after "all we have done for this child, we get ignored." Before going too far down that path I suggest you remember that "good parenting is never convenient, or about the parent." This path leads to arguments and frustration - neither of which will help your student do better or you sleep better.

Instead, of feeling out of touch, I encourage you to think harder about how to spend some extra time with your teen doing something that will really help them through this extremely difficult time of their life. Plan a movie night after a weekend of studying, invite the romantic friend for a dinner on a night when the homework load is not too painful, offer to bring them a special lunch to school or work, take them a cup of their favorite tea at 8 PM and ask if you can help get them ready for the next day, leave them a love note in their pencil case, offer to drive them to/from some place they usually drive themselves, hang out during a play practice or music rehearsal , take them a flower, and most importantly, offer them your words of encouragement and support.

Teenagers are handling a tremendous amount of pressure these days - and parents can help! Keep reaching out to them - they still need us and really do appreciate our support.
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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