On Building a Healthy Relationship with Your Teenage Son
Raising a child is a difficult enough experience, but can be even more so when attempting to foster a successful professional career at the same time. The modern burden of work against home life has led to a unique phenomenon of ‘parental shame’ – and the worry that many are losing touch with their growing children. If you have a teenage son and are concerned that you are drifting apart, the following techniques can help you re-align your relationship, and build a positive one as they slowly transition to adulthood.
The single most important thing you can do to foster a healthy and meaningful relationship with your teenage son is to start with trust. Trust is a bedrock principle in any familial relationship, but it is especially important when it comes to adolescence – a time of great change and a time in which many start to second-guess themselves.
Trust goes both ways, too. You need to let them know that they can trust you, just as much as you trust them. This can be achieved with a frank conversation, but actions often speak louder than words. Loosen your grip and enable them to come to you of their own accord.
Adolescence can be a uniquely isolating experience for a young man, leading to a kind of self-alienation that can all-too-often result in heartache. Pulling them out of this ‘funk’ can be difficult, but worthwhile. One of the more vital ways in which you can try this is experientially; by sharing experiences and activities with your son, you can build shared memories and a shared language.
In spending time with your son through unique experiences, you develop a shibboleth by which to understand one another – while also giving them the opportunity to build a wider, more concrete worldview. The kinds of activities and experiences you embark upon together can be as banal or unique as you like. In fact, the more varied your itinerary the better.
You could embark on a shared project, such as the servicing and repair of an old vehicle before you book an MOT online for it – a quintessential bonding project and learning experience in one. You could also take them out of school to spend a week hiking and camping across the UK. The quality of the activity you choose only matters to a certain extent, as what can really matter is that you are carrying out that activity together.
A Firm Hand on the Tiller
What ultimately matters is that your teenage son feels as un-alone as possible throughout the most emotionally tumultuous period in their life. Tough as it can be to weather this with them, it is also important for you to be tough with them. Adolescence is undoubtedly a time for making mistakes, but some mistakes are best left unmade – and they will certainly thank you for guiding them in a better direction after the fact.
This does not mean forbidding them from making those mistakes, but it does mean having a firm grasp on your – and their – moral compass; being the hand on the rudder that they need in times of personal crisis. With the trust, you have already placed in them, and the shared language built through formative experiences shared together, your input on their direction can be indispensable.