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5 Ways to Stay Engaged With Your Teen

You live under the same roof with your teen. But between school, activities, and friends, there’s not much time left to see him—let alone time for bonding! In this article, I’ll share five ways you can stay engaged with your teen and create a strong bond, even when life gets busy.


(1) Stay Engaged in Your Relationship
If your teen is isolating in his room, doesn’t want to talk to you, doesn’t want to come to the table to eat with you, or doesn’t want to be seen with you––these are signs that you might be losing your relationship. This is when parents need to take steps to connect. You are moving in the wrong direction relationally if:

• You don’t talk about struggles and difficulties
• You don’t listen well
• You are judgmental
• You are constantly demanding perfection
• You throw around your authority.

If your relationship is moving in the wrong direction, don’t wait for your teen to come to you. It’s your job to engage with your teen. Your teen has plenty of friends, but what they want and what they need is a relationship with Mom and Dad.


(2) Stay Engaged in Your Home Atmosphere
Ask yourself: Is your home the kind of place your teen wants to be? If you’re not sure, then ask your teen: Is our home a place you can relax? All teens need a place where they can get away from the stress and school, be comfortable, and relax. If it’s not at home, then your teen will find somewhere else to unwind and let down their guard. You need to be willing to make changes at home in order to create an atmosphere that is relaxed and stress-free. There should be laughter and nights where everyone can just enjoy being together, without having to make everything spiritual or serious all the time. Being able to enjoy your living space together is good for your teen, good for you, and good for your relationship.


(3) Stay Engaged in Your Communication
Don’t ever quit talking to your teen. Make it a regular part of your schedule to spend time together every week. In fact, make it a requirement. Then when you have time together, resist the urge to constantly quiz your teen about school, sports, schedule, and work. Instead, spend time with your teen really talking about what’s on his mind. If you’re continuously “talking at” your teen, then it’s time to shift from “nagging” to “wisdom-sharing.” Stop repeating the same information over and over. The way you communicate may be pushing your teen away. Instead, listen to your teen, ask questions, and share your opinions only when they ask. Be ready to make changes to your messaging in order to draw your teen into a deeper relationship.


(4) Stay Engaged in Your Experiences
One of the ways teens connect is through shared experiences. So plan trips, excursions, and activities together. Find a hobby or pastime that you both are mutually interested in. Even if you have a limited budget, these activities don’t have to be expensive. You can’t afford not to spent time with your teen. Go hiking, get out on the water, go to the zoo, build something, listen to music, or whatever your want. Just spend time together having fun. Do something to draw your teen out of his room and reconnect with the family. Stay engaged with your teen and be willing to try new things to make it clear to your teen that you want to be involved in his life.


(5) Stay Engaged in Your Message
Every parent has a written or unwritten list of things they want their teen to learn, to experience, or to understand before they leave home. The communication you have, the atmosphere you create, and the activities you do together as a family, are building an overall message for your teen. If your desire for this communication isn’t matching up with the reality of your relationship right now, then ask yourself: What message am I trying to share with my teen? There are plenty of ways to communicate––talking, texting, or spending time together. Think about where your teen wants to go and how you are going to help him get there. Consider what are you offering to your teen and be prepared to make adjustments to meet your teen’s needs.


Hey moms and dads … your teen really does want to have a relationship with you. They don’t want to lose the relationship that has been so dear to their hearts. I’ve never met a teen in all my years that said, “I’d really love to hate my parents when I’m 30.” I’ve never heard a teen say, “I would love to never see my parents again.” And I’ve never heard a teen say they don’t want to have a relationship with their mom and dad. But it’s the parent’s responsibility to remain engaged. It’s your responsibility to shift your style of parenting to accommodate the new needs of your teen. Your mindset must be intentional in pursuit of your teen. A good relationship doesn’t just happen. Remember, your teen needs you! So do what is necessary to remain engaged because your teen desperately wants a relationship with you.

Author: Mark Gregston

Mark Gregston began working with teens more than 40 years ago as a youth minister and Young Life director. He has authored nearly two dozen books, has written hundreds of articles, and is host of the nationally-acclaimed Parenting Today’s Teens podcast and radio broadcast.