You don’t have to be a friend but you do have to know about their friends
Who are your child’s friends? What things do they like to do when they “hang-out”? What does your child like about their friend(s)? If you cannot answer these questions then it is time to sit and just “be” with your child and try to hear from them. Knowing what they like and whom they like can help you connect to your child.
If your child says, “I don’t know”, or “nothing” don’t give-up
Kids, especially teens, often make it tough to have even a brief conversation with them. Be patient but be persistent. Inquire with slow but steady questions.
Be curious but not a detective
If your child feels like they are in a police lineup or fearful what they say will be used against them in a proverbial court of law they won’t talk to you. When you want to get to know your teen better be sure to let them know you are not going to share information they tell you or use it against them. Sometimes this takes tremendous restraint. Remember the purpose is to know your child and help guide them not to convict them.
If you only have your child for a few hours it is still important to be a Parent
This means that children should still have chores to do and responsibilities to maintain. A parent is different from being a friend so the boundaries need to be very clear. Kids won’t thank you now…but years from now they just might!
If you are a yeller or screamer…acknowledge this…and work on it!
Some of us were raised with loud parents, so become that ourselves. This can be a tough habit to break. But, if you do lose control it is important to take personal responsibility for this after. Talk with your child about what steps you are taking to reduce these episodes and ask how it feels to them when you do yell. Giving your child permission to express their emotions with you can go a long way toward healing whatever mistakes you do make.