Building a relationship with your teen takes an understanding of the world they live in. Take some time to discover their culture and build inroads so you can navigate a relationship through their teenage years.
The Teenage Years and How to Build a Relationship
If you’re entering the world of teens, it can seem a daunting task, to say the least. The door to their world may appear alien and unfriendly, but don’t let this stop you from opening it up and walking in. Gaining entrance into the world of your teen requires some cultural research, and it’s imperative to do that now before forging ahead.
Your teen is no different than anyone else you know. Relationships are built when you take interest in someone else’s world, and your child is no different. Don’t assume you know everything about them just because you are raising them and living with them.
Ask your teen questions about their likes and dislikes, and then go do your research. Hit the internet, go to the movies, and play some games. Get involved in what drives his or her world and open a dialogue.
Where do you start?
If you have a daughter, the best place to dive in is the magazine rack at the local supermarket. Pick up some copies of Cosmo or like-minded digital magazines and approach them as if you were on an anthropological dig. If you have a son, then you may want to buy Sports Illustrated or one of the many magazines aimed at gamers or music.
Ask yourself the following questions as you determine what they know about your child. What tools are being used to entice your child? What kind of advice are the writers doling out in quick and easy to read bites? What picture is being presented of the world your daughter, or son, navigates on a daily basis?
These marketers are driving culture, and they have learned to ask the right questions and listen to your child’s answers. You need to do the same.
Beyond the printed word
Your journey doesn’t end with the printed word. The next stop on your stroll through the teenage years is the internet. Check out current music trends and watch youtube videos they’re interested in. If you gained information about favorite musicians, then make sure you know the content of their songs and the presentations your child is ingesting. It may not be a great experience for you, but it helps you again to understand the world your daughter, or son, is living in at this point in time.
Play the games teens play
Don’t give up yet as you have another stop to make with media, and that’s either in the form of movies, TV shows, or games. What movies have your teens watched that you are unfamiliar with? Either rent them or go see them. What TV shows do they watch and then dialogue about with their friends? Check them out. What games are they playing on their devices or game consoles? Get reviews or play them yourself.
Use your newly researched information to build upon the relationship with your child. Ask them specific points about the movie you saw or the song you heard. If you’re confused, ask for clarification. Everyone likes to be asked for their wisdom and insight, and your teen is no exception.
Be aware of the cultural bombardment they experience on a daily basis via media. Remember that as adults, we have the ability to cognitively dissect what we pick up, but our teens aren’t quite there. They need help, but give it to them in the form of interesting dialogue.
As you become an expert on your teen’s culture, don’t forget that it’s for the purpose of relationship building. The last thing you want to do is use it to build a wall of protection around your child. Remember, it’s not as scary as you think.