A new year. Countless opportunities to get more of what you want in life. Exciting thought, eh? So what do you really want? If you're the parent of a tween or teen, I'm guessing you might want a healthier relationship with your child. (For "healthier" substitute one or more of the following: more affectionate, more open, more harmonious, more fun.)
Easier said than done. Teens can be prickly. Biological speaking, they're already out the door on a quest for a future mate who will be found in their peer group, not hanging out with Mom or Dad. So your daughter and son are a bit distracted. Nothing you can do about that. But you can stop doing certain things that make you no fun to be with.
I've compiled a short list of the major complaints teens have about their parents' behavior. They'd like you to stop doing these things. I'm passing along the information for your own good. Change your ways and you're likely to have more of the closeness you want in 2015.
1. Yelling. Parenting can be chaotic and stressful. With everything on your plate, it's easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed. If yelling has become your go-to place, you need to stop. Lashing out at your kids and spouse pollutes your home and hurts your family. Without at least one healthy, effective stress-management tool, you're not fully equipped for your job and you will be much less loving and lovable parent. The easiest de-stressor I know is breathing. Breathing requires no gym membership or trendy clothes. It's free and always available. Yes, it's habit-forming, but in a very good way.
New Year's Goal: Stop yelling and start breathing. Your kids will give you less to yell about. Guaranteed.
2. Tuning out. Adults in general are always telling kids what to do and what to think. When kids take the bold step of opening up to us parents (because they need to ask questions and to be heard), we often aren't listening... not one hundred percent. When we are listening, we're often quick to interrupt and invalidate. ("You don't really feel that way.") Yet, we want our kids to stand up for themselves with their peers. How can they learn to do that if we never show an interest in what they have to say?
New Year's Goal: Stop tuning out and really start listening. Your kids will develop more self-confidence in their ability to communicate.
3. Rushing around. Every family needs down time when kids and adults hit the brakes, unplug from our devices, and reconnect with each other. Hopefully you all got some of that during the holidays. But what about next week and the week after? Most of us need down time every day. How about dinner? Research shows that kids whose families sit down and eat dinner together at least three times a week are more likely to do better in school, more likely to delay sexual activity, less likely to be overweight, and less likely to use alcohol or illegal drugs. They're even less likely to have friends who do drugs. Talk about a simple and delicious way to help your kids.
New Year's Goal: Stop rushing around. Have meals together. Your kids will look forward to touching base with you and restoring their sense of who they really are.
Happy New Year from my family to yours.