family dinner parents and teens

Applying Positive Parenting To The Relationship You Have With Your Teen

Building a healthy and strong relationship with your teen relies on multiple factors: mutual respect, effective communication, consistent discipline, and more. However, it is one thing to mention the ingredients of a good relationship and another to cover the actual process of creating that healthy relationship.

For those who are struggling to build and maintain a positive relationship with their teenagers, I wanted to share some of what has worked for my children and me.

Work On Mutual Respect Between You And Your Teen

No one can demand respect; it is something which has to be freely given. A parent has the right to direct their teen and tell them what to do, but this right does not extend to demanding a teen’s respect.

Respect isn’t built overnight but is the result of millions of actions over time. Parents need to do their best to reign in negative reactions and outbursts, as that can quickly destroy the respectful relationship they were hoping to build.

Explain Your Rules and Reasoning

One example of this is when I outlawed phones at the dinner table. My oldest asked why, since he often spent time with his friends with a phone in hand. I explained how in social settings, it can be easy to miss body language clues which can help direct the conversation and how it can be disrespectful towards the speaker.

By taking the time to explain, I showed my son the respect of giving a real answer. In turn, he and his siblings keep their phones put away during meal times.  

Handle Discipline Consistently With Your Teen

Parents who are inconsistent in how they handle discipline instill a strong sense of injustice and mistrust in their teens. One of my son’s friends has a curfew which constantly changes depending on their parent’s mood, and the punishment for breaking the curfew can vary widely.

My children contrast that with the clear guidelines we have set down for breaking curfew and other infractions. They can see the injustice in the inconsistent discipline offered by the friend’s parents.

Along with being more consistent with how your teen is disciplined, you may want to consider putting more focus on their positive behavior. A recent study discovered that teens more often improved when parents emphasized rewarding positive behavior and less on punishment.

Start Transitioning From Your Role As Parent

I’m not saying you should call it a day once your child becomes a teen. However, the phenomenon of helicopter parenting can have profoundly negative effects on a developing teen. They can have difficulty making decisions as a young adult, along with developing deep-seeded anxiety which can cripple their ability to function.

Instead, we parents should be allowing our teens to make age-appropriate decisions, like choosing their school electives. I was incredibly nervous when my daughter picked woodworking as one of her high school freshman electives, but it was her choice to make. Even harder was when my oldest was deciding whether or not he was going to attend college. I advised them in both cases and gave my opinion, but I ultimately made sure my children knew the choice was up to them.

Developing a better relationship with your teen is a process, and I don’t have perfect relationships with my teens. But I do hope some of what I shared helps you and your family as it has helped my family.   

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Tyler Jacobson

As a father of three, Tyler Jacobson lends his parenting experiences for the learning benefit of parents everywhere. For years he has researched and writes for Liahona Academy and other organizations that help troubled boys, focusing on topics surrounding social media use, teenage education, serious addiction issues, mental and behavioral disorders, and abnormal teenage stress. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn
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