Being a present, available father in today’s world is tough. Money concerns are increasing, work hours are longer, and the general strains of the modern age are mixing with social and technological temptations that leave us struggling to balance our lives. As our children grow into the often fraught years of the teens, that challenge becomes even great. Not because connecting with a teenager is impossible, but because they have their own busy lives to manage.
In my own attempts to remain connected to my children as they age, I have worked tirelessly to make sure communication is a priority. Here are the things that I feel have been the most beneficial to speak to my teenage children about in the past. If you are wanting to know where to begin, start with any of these topics.
Bullying has always been a problem in our schools. Now it has expanded as the internet, text messaging and social media give bullies access they have never had before. Cyber bullying has become as much a problem in our modern youth as IRL bullying.
It is crucial that you speak to your children, whether they are teenagers or younger children, about this issue. Especially if you suspect they are either on the receiving or giving end.
Drugs are another common part of a teen’s world. Sitting down and speaking to them frankly about it, especially “lighter” drugs like marijuana, can give them an important insight into the impact such substances may have on them, outside of the misinformation.
For example, tell them that drinking and smoking weed under the age of 25 has been shown to potentially cause cognitive dysfunction later in life. It also increases their likelihood of suffer from addictions as adults.
Some teens are going to have sex. No amount of pushing the idea of celibacy is going to force them to abide by it. So what can you do? Be open about the topic. Show your teen they can talk to you about anything. Arm them with information to keep them safe. Encourage them to wait until they are psychologically and emotionally ready.
Most of all, teach them the right way to keep themselves safe from diseases and teen pregnancy.
About Stress, Mental and Emotional Health
Suicide is the second leading reason for death in teens. That startling figure shows that we should be putting an emphasis on the emotional and psychological health of our children. Watching for red flags is part of it. But showing you are there for them to talk to is the most important thing you can do to help your teen battle depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. You need to be supportive.
How To Start Connecting Today
- Make communication a priority
- Offer to listen without judgement (and then actually do it)
- Offer plenty of praise and encouragement, but make it well rounded (don’t just praise one quality)
- Learn how to let things go sometimes
- Be clear on the rules, and remain consistent with punishments
Tyler Jacobson is a proud father, husband, writer and outreach specialist with experience helping parents and organizations that help troubled teen boys. Tyler has focused on helping through honest advice and humor on: modern day parenting, struggles in school, the impact of social media, addiction, mental disorders, and issues facing teenagers now. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | Linkedin