With a house full of five kids whose ages range anywhere from 1 year to 14 years, we have a LOT of different dynamics in our home. Throw in the fact that our 14 and 12 year olds are my step-kids, you’ll quickly realize our house is anything but normal. Don’t get me wrong. I love our family just the way it is, but it’s different from the normal everyday family.
I always heard how hard the “terrible twos” were and quickly realized on my own that’s it’s actually the threes that can literally knock the wind out of you. What I NEVER took in to consideration is how much the teen years would really keep me on my toes. I’m constantly working on my relationship with our teen and tween. It’s one of those things you can never be too comfortable with because those teenagers are complex little people!
And when they’re not complex, they are wonderful!
Over the past few years I’ve found 5 things I can do to help build and keep a strong relationship with them.
1. Support them! My husband and I try to attend every one of their extra curricular activities letting them know we are always there to support them, no matter what they are doing. If we can’t be there, we let them know how much we hate having to miss out. The point is we want to make them feel important to us, which they are.
2. Encourage them! We are a sports loving family in our house, but our oldest doesn’t share in the same strong love for sports that we do. We’ve always tried to encourage her to find something she loves and when she does, we celebrate it with her, no matter what it may be.
3. Relate to them! We love to talk about what things were like when we were their age, letting them know we’ve been in their shoes before. Our kids love hearing embarrassing stories from our teen years and we love laughing together about the mishaps their dad or I have experienced. If nothing else, it gives us great conversation for our family, an easy way to talk about how the world has changed, and what they need to be careful about in today’s world.
4. Have fun with them! Sometimes that means being silly together at home and sometimes that means finding fun things we can do together as a family. Most importantly, we want them to know we enjoy being with them and we make a strong effort to see that they enjoy being with us too!
5. Make them feel valued! As they grow older, we’ve had to realize that while they are still kids, they will be adults before we know it and we want them to feel like their opinions are important. We make a lot of decisions as a family and because they are old enough to express somewhat mature opinions, we always take those in to consideration when we are making family decisions.
At the end of the day, it’s all about your relationship and letting your kids know you’re always there for them when they need you. Truthfully, even when they think they don’t need you, we all know they do.
These are such important years for your kids and I don’t even pretend to know all of the answers. Honestly, I feel like I’m learning more everyday about this teen and tween I love so much! I’m thankful Project Mom sees the need for other moms to learn a little more about how we can make the most of those teen years, too.
You’ll find me taking mad notes and nodding in agreement with everything the speaker for “Parenting Teens and Tweens” has to say at Project Mom, September 27-28. I’d love to see you there, too, if this is a need in your life!
**Dallas Moms Blog has received no compensation in exchange for this mini-series. In exchange for some marketing, we’ve been allowed to host a booth at the Project Mom conference; however, we sincerely hope that this marketing exchange benefits our readers more than our site through discounts and opportunities to win free tickets!