When I teach groups, I am always shocked when I hear a similar phrase over and over from the teenagers. In my current groups, we have both parents and teens. But every time we separate and gather into a smaller teen only group and start discussing life at home, a common theme arises. You know what every teen craves from their parents? Time! That is the number one need teens will say they wish they had more of with their parents.
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What Every Teen Craves from Their Parents
If you are like me, time is not the first thing that I think a teenager would want from their parent. If anything, it felt like the opposite and rather to be alone. But after doing this particular group for 9+ years I have come to learn that time seems to be a universal need.
Why is time what every teen craves from their parents? If we are honest, I believe we all want deep connections with others. And our teens are no different. They want to feel connected and validated as important. When we as parents give our teens one of our most valuable commodities, time, we are showing them in a real and tangible way that we love them!
By filling one of our teen’s most important needs we are creating a more connected emotionally healthy family
So what does time look and feel like to a teenager?
5 Ways Your Teen Wants Your Time
As parents, we are busy juggling all our duties in and outside the home. So to simplify, I created a list of common concerns that teens have when it comes to finding time with their parents. Follow these tips and create moments with your teen.
Put Down the Phone
In some ways, I am so glad that I did not have a smart phone or social media when some of our kids were young. It made life so much simpler. But even back then I remember our boys not liking it if I was just on the house or my flip phone. They wanted my attention. And now that I am on my cell phone and social media a lot with blogging, it is really hard to make sure I am giving our kids clear focused time.
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Be aware that your tweens and teens are noticing how much time you are scanning through your phone. Here are some tips to keep the lines of communication clear.
- Have phone free times, such as dinner time, when the phones are put away.
- Focus on one thing at a time instead of trying to look at your phone while answering your teen’s questions.
- Keep Facebook app off of your phone so that if you want to look at it you need to hop on your laptop or computer.
- Turn off unnecessary notifications so that your phone isn’t alerting you every few minutes.
Be Available to Your Teen Emotionally
Are you feeling so overwhelmed and stressed yourself that truly listening and connecting in with your teen’s problems seems impossible?
Sometimes, we have days where we are working through a tough emotional issue that we are facing. If generally, we are available to listen and connect with our kids, it will typically balance itself if we need to pull in for a little while emotionally.
But what happens if we as the parents are not coping well or are dealing with a hard loss ourselves? We have to find ways to set our emotions aside in order to listen to our teens. Here are some common areas that I see parents get tripped up and some solutions.
- As parents we need to have a support team, so we have others we can talk to when we are stressed or anxious. This will give us a healthy place to decompress and allow us to feel recharged. Don’t make teens the “parent” by constantly unloading on them.
- Utilize grandparents and mentors to give your teens a safe person to talk to if you know you just can’t cope with listening to them.
- Relook at any relationships in your life that are keeping you in constant chaos emotionally. A relationship is just not worth the small amount of satisfaction it brings, if you are left unemotionally available to your children the majority of the time.
- Remember that though your teens may not need you to make their lunch or other small things, they still need guidance from a responsible adult who loves them! You are so important to them!!
- Write a note. If you are in a tough spot in life and feeling drained emotionally, find another way to convey your love and support. We can still say, ” I love you,” on a card or sticky note.
If you are caught in a hard place and dealing with a lot of emotional baggage from your past it can be hard to “lead” your children when you feel a little lost yourselves. Let you teens know that you are working on yourself and that it’s a process.
But don’t lose confidence in your ability to give guidance and advice.
And model continued growth in your own life. I love to read as a way to challenge myself to grow. Brene Brown is an amazing author. Her book, The Gifts of Imperfection was so good and thought provoking, I felt like I could have highlighted every page. The book is broken into various areas in a person’s life, such as creativity and play, so it makes it easier to think of small changes one can make to improve your life.
Care for Yourself so You Can Be There for Your Teen
Make time for yourself. On the flip side if you try to be available to everybody all the time, you will probably burnout! So create areas and time in your life for you to recharge so that you will be there for your family long-term. Teens often express fears about their parents’s health, physically and emotionally.
What brings you energy? What fills you back up and allows you to feel refreshed?
Here are a few ways you may need to say Yes to caring for yourself!
- Make times for date nights with your spouse.
- Give yourself permission to leave the kids and go out with friends occasionally.
- In general, tell your teens goodnight at a certain time and head to your room for a decent nights sleep.
- Care for your health. Kids notice and talk about the pain they feel over seeing their parents smoking or drinking too much. They worry you may not be around in the future.
Read here for 10 Ways to Calm Your Anxious Thoughts and Have a Productive Day.
Make Time to Be at Home with Your Teens
Allow some space to be at home. I was just watching this video on productivity the other night. And the blogger was discussing the importance of creating “white space” in our schedules. It is so true. Yes, it’s great to have our kids active and to be involved in opportunities in the community. But we all need down-time or “white-space” where we don’t have anything planned!
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Typically it is the teens that are often gone with friends, but I have heard of the other way around too. If you as the parent enjoy being active, socializing, make sure that you have time at home and that your children realize they are your priority!
Does your family have a family night? Do you all plan an evening in just for the family?
Our family LOVES Tim Hawkins comedy routines. He is sooo hilarious that your sides will hurt! And he is clean so the whole family can watch! If you haven’t ever seen him before ( a favorite clip of his song about Yoga Pants:) then buy any of his amazing DVD’s and you can thank me later! This is his most recent, Just About Enough.
Keep a night or two set aside just for catching up as a family. Or maybe it’s a morning event? However, you do it, make it happen! Need some ideas? Read here for some great tips on connecting as a family.
Listen to Your Teen
As our teens mature, respect become even more important to them. We can show that respect and give of our time by listening to them. Try not to jump to conclusions!
Ugh, I know that can be hard. It feels like the stakes are so much higher during the teen years. It is hard to not allow fear to grab a hold as a parent. So when our teen starts saying something that we are worried they may act rashly upon we can jump to interrupt.
Hear them out. Give them an opportunity to explain what they are going through or how they are feeling. And don’t assume just because they are feeling a certain way they will choose to act upon their feelings.
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When we slow down and listen we are giving our time, our respect and allowing them to know we are available to help them process what they are going through.
What Every Teen Craves From Their Parents
So our kids are pretty spread out in age. If you have children really close in age, how have you handled making time for them individually? I’m interested to hear and learn so comment below?
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Great article Miranda. I find just being home when they are, and being available to them, is great for my teenagers. I don’t force them to talk with me, but they often come to me of their own accord when I’m just floating around in the background.
Thanks for the tips here 🙂
Thanks! Yes, that is a great tip! I find that to be true that if I make time to just be around they will open up if something is on their mind. Good reminder!
Misty | Simple organized lifestyle says
Thanks for the tips! Although my son is still elementary school age, he has closed my laptop lid before and that speaks volumes. My favorite time is when I’m laying down beside him when it’s time to go to bed and he just jabbers about everything- and I’m just taking it in… must remember to make more time for that:] Great reminders!
Oh Misty, I love that image of you and your son spending time together talking about the day. It sounds like you are sowing seeds, of time and togetherness, that will grow and take root as your son becomes older.
Heather Bee says
Thanks for the reminder about how spending quality time with our teens can really strengthen our relationship with them. It can be so tempting to think they don’t need us anymore simply because they appear grown on the outside, but I’ve found they need our love and support even more. Love seeing the picture of Little Red and one of your puppies!
I know! Sometimes it seems like they don’t need us, but you are so right that they need us perhaps even more! Oh, I’m glad you liked the picture. I love that one:) Hoping to see you soon!
Lyra medina says
I have 4 girls, 2-3 yrs apart in age. Giving then individual time is very challenging in our family. I do feel that 1 of them slips through because she is the easiest, go-with-the-flow type of girl. With her, I try to squeeze in our time when she’s with me helping make dinner, or catching an episode of a cooking show. We’ll talk and catch up on what’s going on with her.
My husband will sometimes take along one of the girls, who he feels needs more one-on-one time, to help him at the grocery store. Most of the time, that also means a trip to the coffee shop.
It would be nice to have more of an intentional sense in giving the girls much needed time with us, but right now, we find it throughout our busy days. When they do come to us specifically to talk about or talk through something, we work it out. Sometimes, priorities will shift or we will set the time aside that works for both.
Lyra, it sounds like you and your husband are doing an amazing job. Sometimes just being aware of it and taking advantage of those little moments running errands or working in the kitchen, as you all are doing, works really well. Some of your girls may like specific sit down face to face “to talk” moments. Working along side one another and allowing their concerns to have time to casually “bubble up to the top” may feel less scary and more natural to your other girls. Each of our kids have such different personalities and enjoy sharing and talking in different ways! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!