9 Respectful Ways To Stay Involved In Your Teen’s Life

9 Respectful Ways To Stay Involved In Your Teen’s Life

Snooping or Shaming Teens Will Not Give You More Control or Respect: Here is What Will.

Teens…One minute they want all of our attention, and the next they want nothing to do with us. What happened to my open, sometimes clingy son? He used to share everything with me. He became secretive and elusive. My questions were answered with grunts, if at all. I remember really missing the younger years, as our sons became teenagers.

So what happens to our children as they enter their teen years?
They shift from getting everything they want and need from parents to their peers. This is a normal stage of development called “individuation.”

And, it can be really hard for us parents not to take it personally.

It may also feel like your teenager is being rebellious.

They are trying hard to figure out who they are separate from us, their parents.

We parents become a source of embarrassment. 

It often feels as if they don’t want us in their lives anymore.

teens positive parenting

So what can we do to stay involved in our teenager’s lives?

1. Respect their need for privacy. If their door is shut, it is important to knock and respect them if they say, “Go away”.

2. Have faith in their capabilities, and let them make their own decisions. If they choose to spend “too much” time with their friends and not enough on their homework, they will have to live with the results. You will not be there forever to remind them. Micromanaging will only cause more rebellion from your teen. Letting them make mistakes with no blame, shame, or pain is critical. If they come to you upset with the outcome of a decision, ask them questions can help them learn to problem solve. “What happened? What could have been done differently?” are the types of questions that will help them think through the situation and potential solutions. They do not need us to fix their problem or rescue them!

3. Try remembering back to what you wanted and needed when you were their age. Their priorities are probably pretty similar – friends, dates, belonging to a group, etc. That is where they are coming from, and the more you can understand that, the less friction there will be.

4. Really listen. Teens are more likely to open up when sitting next to you while riding in the car or walking side by side. It feels less intrusive to them. Asking questions that begin with “what” or “how” can show you are curious about what’s going on in their lives. “How did your project turn out?” or “What are you thinking about doing this weekend?” are examples of these types of questions. It’s then important to really listen, and be open to what they are sharing.

5.  Do something they enjoy, even if it’s not your favorite thing to do. Watching a horror movie with a shared bowl of popcorn is a good example.

6. Be there when they want to talk. Listen with an open mind and heart. Validate their feelings. For example, your daughter may come home from school complaining that she hates her best friend. Responding with, “What happened to make you feel that way?” “Hmmm.” “Sounds like you felt really hurt.” You are listening and engaging, and showing her that her feelings matter.

7. Sit silently with them, just to be together. If your son is playing a video game, ask if you can join him and read a book while he’s playing. Just being together is connecting.

8. Model what you want from them. Demonstrate what it’s like to build connections and relationships with everyone around you. Speak respectfully to others. Fully listen to them, and show that you are listening. Put all of your electronic devices away when having a conversation, look the other person in the eye, and reflectively listen. “I hear you saying you were upset….”

9. Have patience. This is a stage, and it too, will pass. By allowing them the space to become independent and resilient, they will be!
Remember, they are being a “normal” teen when they pull away from us parents. Think back – most of us did the same thing! And they don’t remain teenagers forever. If we give them the space to grow and learn, they often become our best friends in their twenties!


Connect with Carol on the Positive Discipline of Connecticut Facebook page!

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Carol is the mother of two adult sons, and lives in Connecticut. She is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting and Classroom Educator. She is the co-founder of Positive Discipline of Connecticut, a non-profit organization that inspires and promotes the development of life skills and respectful relationships in families, schools, and businesses in our local communities. Carol is available to teach parenting classes, bring Positive Discipline in to schools and classrooms, and provide one-on-one coaching. She is also on the Positive Discipline Association Board of Directors.

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5 Responses to 9 Respectful Ways To Stay Involved In Your Teen’s Life

  1. Carol – thank you for this wonderful summary of what to remember when we’re trying to say close to our teens. Often it’s hard in the moment because we want to connect to them or simply know what’s going on! But these tools pay off in the long run!!

  2. As someone who’s parents were the furthest thing from respectful of my privacy and independence, I just wanted to thank you for this list. I am getting ready to be a mother myself and one of my fears was making the same mistakes my parents did.

  3. Emm,
    It is wonderful that you are taking the time now to learn different ways to parent. So often, we do as was done to us. One thing to keep in mind is that we all make mistakes, and they are wonderful opportunities to learn.


  4. Lisa,
    It can be so hard in the moment! I’m glad you found this summary helpful. You are right – these tools do pay off in the long run!

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