of Parenting: Building a Great Relationship with Your Teen
By Karen DeBord, Ph.D. and Lisa Shannon, Ph.D.
dont understand me at all!
You treat me like Im still a kid!
You never let me have any fun!
Why does it matter to you?
Has your teenaged son or daughter ever said these things to you?
Does it seem as though youre always arguing with your teen?
How does it make you feel? How does it make your teen feel?
teenagers can be hard work. Teens today face many difficult issues.
And they often have to make serious decisions (like whether to use
drugs or have sex) at a very young age. The secret of parenting
is to help your teen make good decisions by building a close relationship
with him or her.
are complicated and interesting. While they may be sweet, funny,
and helpful one minute, they can often be grumpy and rebellious
the next. Teens are constantly changing because they are facing
many important tasks at this important stage of life. They are becoming
more independent, developing important peer relationships, and trying
to get used to their changing bodies.
Can You Do to Help Your Teen?
Build a strong relationship. Teens who feel close to their
parents are more likely to come to them for advice when faced with
They are also more likely to follow their parents advice.
Teens who feel close to their parents often have higher self-esteem
and are better able to stand up to negative peer pressure.
Show your love. You can show your love in ways that are comfortable
for both of you. Be affectionate. If your teenager is comfortable
with warm affection, hug and kiss him
tell him you love him.
If your teenager is shy about expressing affection, respect his
need for some distance and find other ways to show that you care.
Take an interest in what your teenager is doing and who her friends
are. Be there for your teen. Go to her athletic events and science
fairs. You can even exchange e-mail with your teenager to show your
interest in her activities. E-mail may feel like a safe way for
teens to talk through tough issues with you.
Show your support in your teenagers successes and failures.
Let him know you love him no matter what. Being there lets him know
you care and may help him decide to make a wise choice when faced
with a tough decision to go with the crowd.
fun together. Try to spend some quality fun time
with your teen each week, even if it is only 10 minutes listening
to music or going to a ball game together. Look for common interests
with your teen and build on them. Show your teen that she can have
fun and relax with you! Do things she wants to do like going to
the mall or practicing her driving skills in a big parking lot.
to your teen. Open up communication about being a teenager by
telling your teen what you were like as a teenager. Discuss your
views on important issues like dating, drugs, and school. Talk about
some of the mistakes you made growing up. Show your teenager that
youre not perfect, either.
first; then ask questions. When your teen talks to you, listen!
Make sure you pay attention to what he is saying, and dont
put down his thoughts and beliefs. Show interest. Ask your teen
about things that are important to him. Ask about his friends, his
interest in music, or his favorite subject at school. However, dont
quiz your teen, or you might drive him away. Instead, ask for his
opinions. You can even ask him for advice. But then be silent and
take time. Spend
time together, listen, and let teenagers express themselves.
your child comes to you feeling angry, sad, or frustrated, how do
Dont worry about it. Youll be fine.
What do you have to be sad about? There are bigger problems in the
world! What did you do to cause this?
I know how you feel. I have felt that way, too. That feels terrible.
You will feel better if you cry.
4. Wowit sounds as if you are sad about that. Situations like
this are tough, but we can probably figure out a way to handle this.
responses represent these types of parents:
1. The Dismissive parent plays down feelings. This parent faces
a scraped knee or a social snubbing with, Youre all
right. This kind of parent feels uncomfortable with a childs
display of emotions and feels uncertain about what to do.
2. The Disapproving parent criticizes or punishes the child for
expressions and believes emotions make people weak or that negative
3. The Laissez-faire parent accepts emotions and offers comfort,
but doesnt teach problem-solving techniques.
4. The Emotion Coach accepts a childs feelings without belittling
or denying them. This parent doesnt try to control the childs
emotions. Instead, the emotion coach sees each expression as an
opportunity to build a bond and teach problem- solving.
N. I. (2001). How to Keep Your Teenager out of Trouble and What
to Do if You Cant.New York: Workman Publishing.
K. (1999). Parenting Teens (FCS 422). Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina
Cooperative Extension Service.
J. (1997). Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. New York: Simon
by Karen DeBord, Ph.D. State Extension Specialist, Child Development
Lisa Shannon, Ph.D.State Extension Specialist, Children, Youth,
and Families. North Carolina State University Extension. Distributed
in furtherance of the acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914.
North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State
University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal
opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion,
sex, age, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome
all persons without regard
to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina
A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local
is always great for parents to have a great relationship with their
kids, as being close to them somehow lessens the risk of Teen
Drug Addiction entering into their lives.