The adolescent years are typically one of the most trying and difficult periods for parents and teens alike. At times, it can feel like the child you once knew is a total stranger. When a teen pushes you away despite your best efforts to become closer, it's not unusual to feel wounded or rejected. But you don't have to live in a state of estrangement. You can build a loving relationship with your teen, but it's up to you to take the initial steps.
Set aside time to spend with your teen each day. You don't have to talk -- you can go for a walk or even just watch TV together. Most likely, your teen will appreciate the fact that you're showing an interest in her by putting in your time and effort. Surprisingly, teens -- more than young children -- feel that they don't spend enough time with their parents, according to a study by researcher and author Ellen Galninsky's, published in her book, "Ask the Children: The Breakthrough Study That Reveals How to Succeed at Work and Parenting."
Breathe and stay calm when your teen tries to push you away. Remember that this is just a part of the developmental cycle. Your teen needs to push you away for her to feel less dependent on you, writes psychologist and author Lucie Hemmen on her website. So the next time you feel compelled to react out of pain or frustration, take a deep breath and remember that your teen's behavior isn't a personal attack.
Ask your teen's opinion about important -- and seemingly trivial -- issues on a regular basis. Just keep in mind that teens can turn almost any conversation into a battle, notes psychologist Susan S. Bartel in a FamilyCircle.com article. Teens often disagree with their parents as a way to gauge whether the parents value and respect their opinions. By asking your teen's opinion about issues, like where to go on vacation or what to have for dinner, you're helping him feel trusted and appreciated.
Attend your teen's sports games or extracurricular events. You don't have to be a die-hard soccer mom, but showing up at an important match or band concert shows your teen that you're engaged and interested in his life and helps him feel your love and support.
Praise your teen's accomplishments and tell her that you love her on a regular basis. All teens want their parents' approval, according to Children's Medical Services. Praise promotes feelings of support and encouragement and helps build closer, more loving relationships.
Don't offer too much advice, even if you feel that it's in your teen's best interests. By lecturing your teen, you'll only push her further away instead of bringing her closer. Let her learn from her mistakes -- as long as they don't involve physical harm or dangerous or illegal activities.
If your teen's behavior becomes downright defiant and/or out of control, seek the help of a professional to help open the lines of communication with your teen.