As your kids move through childhood into adolescence, one constant remains — they regard your presence as a sign of caring and connectedness. I like to call this phenomenon “the power of being there.”
Now, a funny thing happens to children once they reach the teenage years: They don’t seem to want their parents around all that much. Sure, they need to have your presence in their lives. They just don’t want to be reminded of that fact.
This comes as anywhere from a mild surprise to a major shock to parents who are watching their fun-loving 12-year-old become a sullen 13-year-old seemingly overnight. So, here are a few helpful ways you can still be a part of your teenager’s life without pushing him or her away in the process.
1. Remember that just because a teenager doesn’t say, “I love you” as much as they used to doesn’t mean he or she don’t love his or her parents anymore. They just don’t want to say it at school or in front of their peers.
2. Keep in mind that, one-day, when your kids are grown up with families of their own, it’s likely you will have a loving friendship with them. Until then, resist the temptation to be one of their peers. Yes, peers are a primary influence right now–and you may want to be a part of your teen’s “inner-circle.” You definitely need to know who these “friends” are. But you can’t be one of them so don’t try.
3. Don’t forget that your job as a parent is a calling — so treat your kids like the gifts from God that they are. This will help you on the long, lonely days when it seems like your teenager really doesn’t care about you anymore. The fact is, she or he will get over it. Try to remember what it was like to be 13, 14, or 17 and give your child a healthy amount of “space” when appropriate.
4. Never underestimate the “power of being there.” Young children who grow up believing and knowing that their parents will always be there for them can face anything. Being there for your kids when they’re young gives them the sense that you’ll still “be there” for them when they’re older — in their hearts at least — but not when you are hugging them goodbye in front of the movie theater.