Once you have the Safe Haven step under control, it is time to work on another key element, building the relationship between you and your child. One of the biggest complaints I hear from teenage parents is that their child won’t talk to them or refuses to listen to them. This is not a child problem, but one a parent can solve. Think about the people you choose to be around; the ones you go to for advice. Who are they and what are the qualities they exhibit? Do they talk down to you? Do they nag you? Are they always trying to make you do things you would prefer not to? Now think of your relationship with your child. You may even want to jot down a few conversations you have with your child over the next week. Are you the person in the relationship who is controlling, dominating, and just miserable to be around?
“Your child will avoid interacting with you if they know every conversation with you will be something they don’t want to hear.”
I can hear your response to that idea: “But I’m the parent. Someone has to take charge even if it isn’t pleasant!” I understand your reasoning. This is a very difficult concept for most parents because they feel the need to be the parent and be in control. For the sake of the relationship, I beg you to let go of this concept. When your relationship is suffering, there is no way your child is going to listen to anything you say or respect your judgment. You do not need to be your child’s best friend, but there should be a strong bond of affection between you and your child. Build upon that. Your child needs your advice, needs your help...needs you!
“When your child is confronted with critical decisions, it is the strength of your relationship that determines the resolution.”
Children do need responsibility, but no one wants to be nagged. If that is how you are perceived by your child, you will not be successful. Something needs to change. There are creative answers and you can find a better way to teach responsibility. For right now put your relationship first and save responsibility for a bit later.
Be together and have fun. Find an interest you and your children have in common. During this time there can be no negatives coming from your mouth. No reminding them of homework, no advice giving or requested improvements for your child. Your only goal is to spend relaxed time getting to know each other better building your relationship. The tougher your relationship, the longer this will take. Enjoy yourself. I promise you, it will be time well spent.