Connection and a lasting relationship with your teen
A healthy relationship with your teen is one essential aspect of their overall health. Teens who have good communication and trust with adults in their lives tend to have better health outcomes and overall well-being. To build a healthy relationship, it is important to be present with your teen. You can do this by spending time with your teen and getting to know their friends and support system.
Spend time with your teen
Parents and teens having fun together? It has been known to happen! Whether it’s through family activities, special events and trips, or just the everyday activities around the house, finding ways to create fun moments to connect with your teen is an integral way to support them. Here are some ideas for how you can create moments with your teen:
- Go out for lunch to celebrate the beginning of the school year.
- Read the same book that your teen is reading and make time to talk about it.
- Take a class together, like a yoga or cooking class
- Celebrate half birthdays by preparing a special family meal
- Take interest in the music they listen to; listen to their favorite songs, and perhaps some of yours, together
- Choose a show to watch together
- Cook a special meal together
- Build something or do a home improvement project together
- Do art together, such as drawing, painting, etc.
- Take a trip by car and visit places that were special to you when you were your teen’s age
- Go for a bike ride
- Eat out at your teen’s favorite restaurant
- Schedule your lunch hour during your teen’s lunch break – check them out of school and take your teen to lunch
Get to know your teen’s friends and support system
Your teen’s friends are a huge part of their support system. As a trusted adult in their life, it’s important to get to know your teen’s friends and their parents, and for them to get to know you. Taking an interest in the people in your teen’s life is another way you show them you care.
- Introduce yourself to your teen’s friends – let them know your name and learn theirs in return.
- Take interest in them. Know the basics: What school do they attend? Do they have siblings? Do they play sports? What do they enjoy doing outside of school?
- Offer to drive your teen and their friends to outings and events. This helps to build a rapport with your teen and their friends.
- Help your teens’ friends know the rules in your house. Whether it’s leaving shoes at the door or clearing the dishes from the table after you eat, find a way to communicate your expectations clearly and politely.
- Concerned about a particular friend? Sometimes teens like to “try out” new friends who are very different from them. If you’re concerned there isn’t enough supervision or that the home of a friend is unsafe, invite the friend to your home.
Parents of friends
- When your teen has a friend over, make a point to invite their parents in for coffee and a chance to chat.
- If you’re bringing your teen to a friend’s house, take the time to introduce yourself to the parents.
- Create connections with these parents: Get their contact information and check in from time to time. Grab coffee or lunch together and perhaps you might even become friends too!
Questions to ask when your teen goes to another family’s home
Many of these questions should be asked anytime your teen visits another friend’s home. Some are more appropriate to ask when you have established a good relationship with the friends’ parents.
- Will there be an adult at home?
- Are the parents aware of their teens’ plans?
- Will they be going anywhere? If so, how will they get there?
- What time is pickup?
- How many teens are coming over? Is this a party or just a few friends?
- Will there be food/a meal?
- What media ratings are considered appropriate to watch in that household?
- Is there alcohol in the house? What are your rules about use?
- Does anyone smoke in the house? What are the rules about smoking?
- Are there guns in the home? Are they locked away with trigger locks?
Being there for your teen is as much about giving and paying attention when you are physically present as it is when you are not there. When you spend time with your teen and show interest in their friends and hobbies, this lets your teen know that you care about what they do and the people in their life. As you make time for each other, you build a foundation of trust and care. This will go a long way to developing the best kind of relationship – the kind that lasts and stands strong no matter what happens.
About Between Us
Between Us is a grant-funded program from the Minnesota Department of Health that creates access to confidential reproductive healthcare for youth and young adults who receive their care at Hennepin Healthcare. Teens have the right to confidentiality for certain kinds of care under Minnesota’s Minor Consent Law. Between Us works to transform primary care into a more teen-friendly environment, welcoming teens and their parents, while also providing confidential care when needed.