Step 1: Develop a Relationship with Your Teen

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Is your son or daughter unresponsive to your efforts to connect, discipline, coerce or persuade? Do you find it frustrating when they ignore house rules or direction? You might even have suggested that they go play a sport that they used to love only to have your idea fall on deaf ears. Why do teens shut down or turn off the efforts of family members or other authority figures? Sometimes the answer is outside of our control but much of the time the reason is because your relationship isn’t where it needs to be. Yes, the answer might be that you need to invest additional time and attention to connecting.

In a recent post Laura Bennion shared 10 great ideas of ways that parents can connect to their teenager. Review these ideas while considering the points below.

All healthy relationships require a balance between boundaries and emotional connection. As part of the process of change it is important that we identify unhealthy patterns and be flexible to necessary adjustments.

There are three basic relationship types, independent, co-dependent and interdependent.  Independent relationships tend to have very clear boundaries, but offer very little support and connection. Co-dependent relationships share everything and may provide high levels of connection. This intense level of connection comes at the cost of boundaries, and personal identity. The third and most desirable relational type is interdependent relationships. Interdependent relationships provide space for individuality and boundaries, which in turn creates a safe environment for vulnerability and connection to flourish.

Although every relationship is a work in progress we should all strive for interdependent relationships with our teens; relationships that allow us, and our teens, to express emotions without the fear of judgement from others. Relationships where expectations and commitment are established and where we can communicate when we feel those exceptions or commitments are out of balance are healthy relationships.

Through consistency and communication we can find the connection and joy that come from the precious gift of relationships with our teenagers.

Heather Pearce
Heather Pearce
Born in southern California and raised in Idaho I am the youngest of four children and aunt to 10 nieces and nephews. I enjoy a social and active lifestyle of hiking, tennis, golfing and traveling; in addition to being an avid cook, reader and shopper. I define my therapeutic style as being direct, relational, and innovative. I believe that relationships are an instrumental part of the healing process and the foundation for change. I love working with adolescents because of their immense capacity for growth and their strong desire for connection.

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