Our lives have never been busier than they are today. With work obligations often taking up much of our time, stresses over finances and relationships, doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher conferences, and even simply being too tired at the end of the day, it can be easy to see how we can find ourselves disconnected from our teens.
Spending time with your teen offers a world of benefits for you both. The good news is that no matter how busy you are, taking just twenty minutes could give a boost to the strength of your relationship with your teen.
Knowing the differences between undivided and divided attention
It can be easy to fall into the idea that we are giving our children plenty of attention because we seem to be around them almost all of the time. We’re talking to them, driving them to school and football practice, or we’re running errands with them tagging along.
Certainly, there’s a lot of togetherness when running errands, but the key difference can be seen in the quality of the attention and togetherness. Your teen will be well aware of the fact that your mind will be elsewhere when you’re driving them around or running errands. They may even switch to autopilot and ignore you for the duration of your time together.
Spending one-on-one time with just you and your teen, with your entire focus on them and how they are feeling, makes them the very center of your world and your focus. In these focused moments, there is an opportunity to deepen the bond between you and your teen.
The benefits of time with your teen
As our children grow more independent, they don’t always need as much time with us. There are some key benefits to carving out just twenty minutes a day with your teen with that in mind.
No matter how independent they are or think that they are, quality time with their parent can benefit them in several ways:
- A reminder that you’re on their side. Your teen may know that you love him, even if he doesn’t feel it some days when you’re issuing consequences for poor behavior. Spending more time with him can be a reminder that not only do you love him without condition, but you are on his side in all ways that matter.
- A boost in self-esteem. Children and teens of all ages can feel a sense of positivity and increase self-esteem due to the positive interactions with their parents. They’ll feel valued, heard, and so much more. Any parent can agree that an increase in self-esteem is worth it for a teen that may otherwise struggle.
- A happier home. When you and your teens enjoy a positive relationship with great communication, it can reduce some of the stress that can otherwise be in the home. Stressful interactions between teens and parents can create an uncomfortable and stressful situation in the home, impacting everyone in the family. More contentment in the home can translate to reduced levels of stress for everyone.
- Better academic performance. Parents who take an active interest in their teens’ lives find a correlation with increased academic performance.
- More positive behaviors. Children and teens who spend more quality time with their parents are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. This is something all parents can appreciate.
- Better communication skills. When you spend time with your children, you are creating a home that encourages good communication. It’s never too late for you or too early for your teens to learn good communication skills.
Twenty minutes can genuinely be magical for the relationship that you have with your teen. The benefits can roll onto positive impacts for the rest of the family.
Spending more time together, doing what they want
The benefits of spending more one-on-one time with your teen can’t be denied, but what should you do for those twenty minutes?
There are a few things to keep in mind when figuring out what you and your teen should do for those twenty or so minutes together:
- Don’t focus so much on the time or a time limit. Twenty minutes is just a great start to help you reconnect with your teen. Perhaps you could enlist their help with peeling vegetables for dinner while you have a quick chat. Maybe you could go for a drive to pick up coffee or milkshakes and talk about your day.
- Keep things light and fun. You could spend time sharing memes online with your teen. This is something that many teens enjoy, and it’s a way for you to connect and infuse your interaction with humor.
- Schedule lunch or dinner dates with your teen. Let them pick the restaurant or what they want for dinner. Spend your meal together just catching up on your day and enjoying one another’s company.
- Keep the devices and distractions away. Make a soft rule that your time with your teen is going to be device-free. You can’t truly connect with your teen if you’re constantly glancing down at notifications coming in on your phone. Keep the TV off unless you’re both watching a show or documentary that you enjoy.
- Engage in activities that your teen wants to do. Meet them at a level that they are comfortable with. This could include getting familiar with some of the video games they are passionate about or perhaps going for a bike ride around the neighborhood. The goal is to reach your teen and connect with him. If you force him to engage in activities that are only interesting to you, you’re not going to connect well.
Has your teen expressed interest in a new activity or hobby?
Perhaps they want to go for hikes around the local lake?
Maybe they’re interested in learning how to waterski or build birdhouses?
No matter how mundane or marvelous the idea seems to you, the important thing is that it’s something your teen is excited about. These moments together offer you both the ability to rebuild, build, and solidify your relationship.
When your teen gains more independence and eventually goes away to college and a life of his own, he will remember these moments together. He will remember them as part of what helped shape the strong relationship he has with you.
Start with just twenty magical minutes. After all, a short conversation in the car or having a chat in the garden over cookies and cocoa builds a stronger connection. These are the building blocks to a strong relationship with a teen who feels heard, appreciated, and empowered.