The relationship between you and your teen son is a fragile one. He’s learning to assert his power and independence and you are fighting to keep him your little boy for a bit longer. This delicate power struggle sometimes leads to a lack of trust between the two of you, which can severely damage your relationship. If you and your son are experiencing issues in your relationship, you must mend them. According to Dr. Laura Markham, mother and clinical psychologist, your son is less likely to get into trouble and make bad decisions if he has a close relationship with you.
Pick your battles, advises Dr. Steven Richfield, a Pennsylvania-based child psychologist and author. Oftentimes the catalyst to a bad relationship with your teenage son is too much conflict, and to repair your relationship you have to learn to pick your battles. If he wants to wear black nail polish and grow his hair long, don’t turn it into a conflict. By saving your anger and fighting for instances in which his decisions are dangerous or bad, you are causing fewer fights, which will help to repair your relationship.
Learn to accept your son’s interests, according to Dr. Steven Richfield. One way to help you mend your relationship with your teen son is to learn that you cannot change him. Once you stop trying to change him and learn to accept him and his interests for what they are, you are on your way to mending your relationship. Rather than being disappointed that he wants to play basketball when you always envisioned him as the star quarterback, accept his role on the basketball team by giving him a hug and buying yourself a school jersey with his number on it to wear to his games.
Show interest in your son’s life, advises Dr. Laura Markham. When you pick him up from school, put down your phone and turn off the radio. Instead of ignoring him as you drive home, ask him about his day or tell him about something humorous that happened to you during the day. Taking this time to connect and show him he’s important to you will help you on your quest to mend your relationship.
Define your expectations of one another. Sit down and talk about what you can both do to make your relationship better than it is at the moment. If you think him coming home in time for a family dinner around the table more often would make you happy, tell him you’d like that. Listen to what he wants from you and work together to create compromises for one another that will help you mend your relationship.
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