My favorite age of each of our three kids has been four years old. Why? Because they are so talkative. I have an introvert personality, and talking isn’t necessarily my strength. So, having someone around who talked constantly was always a delight. They talked about anything and everything. There was so much they were learning and so much they wanted to say about it.
Fast forward to the present: our oldest child is a 13-year-old boy who speaks in grunts, groans and deep sighs. Sigh. Trying to connect with a teenager is hard. Even when you have done the work of establishing an open line of honest communication and reassured them that they can talk to you about anything, connecting with your teen can be challenging.
An impromptu shopping excursion to buy new basketball shoes opened up a different line of communication with my teenage son and helped me better understand how to continue to keep that line of communication open.
Dad is usually the one who takes him to buy athletic gear. However, when an opportunity came up to take our son shopping, I took it. To say that he was less than thrilled would be an understatement. We were combining two activities that we both dreaded: driving around in the car and shopping.
My husband is the music guru in our household and has passed that love of music on to our children. But, I too have a wide range of musical interests. So, to break the silence while we drove around we listened to a variety of music in between destinations. We listened to Mariah Carey and he marveled at the nearly glass-shattering notes that she hits in “Emotions.” He rocked out with me as I introduced him to the staccato beat of the drum and guitar riffs in Metallica’s song “One.” Yes, I went through a brief heavy metal phase as a teenager.
He played his favorite tracks from electronic musician, Marshmello, and showed me that electronic music has evolved beyond what I knew about it from the ’80s and hated listening to.
At times we sat in the car for two songs before going into a store. I may have added an additional stop to prolong our time together. We didn’t connect about school or friends or his extracurricular activities; the things I really wanted to get him to talk about while he was stuck in the car with me. But, we created a new connection around our mutual appreciation of music and that was enough for me and for him.
Maybe next time I’ll try one of these 30 ways to connect with your teen.