Last weekend I took my 17-year-old son to Dallas for the NCAA Final Four — a birthday and Christmas gift from my wife and me. My friend had extra tickets to the games, and I couldn’t turn up the chance — especially because I’m looking for opportunities to connect with my teenager.
As my two older sons have grown into adolescence, they’ve naturally started to pull away from their parents and into their own friendship groups and their own worlds.
While this is healthy, normal and, really, their job as teenagers, it’s still really hard for parents. I’ve found myself consciously fighting the tendency to just let this separation happen.
Consider taking a trip with your teenager — just the two of you. Look for events, concerts, festivals — anything of interest to the both of you, and plan in advance to solidify.
Think about doing something simple but regular with your son. Breakfast once a month, watching a weekly TV show you both like, or taking an annual hunting trip would be easy to schedule, without costing too much.
Ask your daughter about ways to connect with her. Try to be open to doing something she wants, even if you normally wouldn’t do those kinds of things (think shopping).
Don’t give up easily — if you meet resistance, keep trying to find ways to connect with your teenager, and let them know that you really want to spend time with them.
The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides bi-weekly action ideas to stimulate conversation between fathers and parents. For more information, or to join local conversations, contact David Eggebeen at email@example.com, Robert Orndorff at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mick Trombley at email@example.com, Chris Dufour at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Marc McCann at email@example.com. See the Centre County Fathering website for resources and information at www.centrefathering.org.