10 Powerful Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Teen Son
“And she loved a (not so little) boy very, very much, even more than she loved herself.” -Shel Silverstein
Teen boys are tough! I mean, really tough! And trying to strengthen your relationship with them can be challenging.
My oldest two are teen boys – 17 and 14. I love them to death – even through the tough moments and heartaches.
While my boys are two opposites on the personality spectrum, they are still boys. And, with that, you not only get physical maturation but social and mental development as well.
Yes, the mood swings, the excessive eating, sleeping, the testosterone – you get it!
No one can prepare you for this stage. And although you might feel like avoiding your teen to prevent conflict is better than trying to strengthen your relationship, they need you now more than ever.
Here are 10 powerful ways you can strengthen your relationship with your son:
1. Check In
You might find that your teenager isn’t as willing to communicate as they used to. They tend to want to be more social with their age group, so don’t be offended if they aren’t as open.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to check in; you can ask how he’s doing or how his day went.
You can also reassure him that if he needs anything or wants to talk about anything, you’re always available.
He may not say it, but he does appreciate your efforts.
2. Compliment them
New haircut? Different outfit? Tell him you like it.
Did he do a chore without asking? Did he answer you respectfully? Has his behavior been superior in the last couple of days?
Remember to tell him you appreciate these things.
Compliments help them feel loved and appreciated.
Positive reinforcement motivates him to want to do it more because you’re taking time to let him know you notice his good intentions.
3. Do something fun together
Ask your teen if he’s interested in doing something together.
Put the ball in his court. Giving him options helps encourage independence.
Some fun ideas of fun with your son could be:
- Escape Room
- Ice Skating
- Eat out
- Get ice cream or dessert
- A trampoline park
- Play a board or card game
- Let them help you cook
- Nerf gunfight (my son loves this!)
Offer rewards for good behavior or grades.
The rewards don’t have to be huge, but they should be motivated enough that he looks forward to them.
You can do small weekly rewards and larger rewards monthly – whatever works for your family.
Positive reinforcement will help strengthen your relationship and give him a boost in his mood if he has something to look forward to.
Now, I would suggest knowing your child’s boundaries here. My oldest son doesn’t typically care for much affection, so I try to respect that.
Yet, I do jokingly hug him on occasion, and he seems to be okay with it.
Some boys will appreciate affection more than others, but if he’s willing to allow it, then show it.
Other ways you could display affection towards your son are through high fives, patting his back, or fist bumps.
Affection doesn’t always have to be physical.
I’ve always told my children I love them since they were tiny, so it’s natural for them to say it to everyone else.
Randomly saying “I love you” is a true sign of affection that I know my boys truly appreciate.
If you get into it with your teen, it can feel like both of you are walking on eggshells around the house.
Even if you didn’t start the argument, it’s totally fine to offer an apology.
At this age, it can be difficult for him to admit fault. We are human, and admitting wrongdoing isn’t easy.
When talking about those teenage years, everybody is at fault except him since the world revolves around him at this age.
However, telling your teenager sorry shows him you understand and respect his feelings; he also feels like he is being heard.
He might not apologize in return, but it’s a start to strengthening that relationship. And if he does apologize in return, even better.
Not only is it good to apologize to your teen son – even if you’re not at fault, but it’s also good to forgive.
Remember, he’s nowhere near perfect.
God has given us incredible mercy when we do wrong, and for us to not show that same mercy towards our children isn’t setting the example we want.
Forgiveness shows your teen how to forgive as well. It also shows compassion and love on your end.
8. Respect boundaries
Teens thrive on independence, and it can be hard to step back to give them more freedom.
I still struggle with this with my teenage boys because, as they say – “I was once a teen, too.”
So, we as parents might tend to think he will make the same mistakes we did (and they might), but we can’t protect him from everything.
The more we intrude and don’t allow some boundaries, the more of a shield he will put up.
That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t follow rules in the home or respect our authority, but if he wants to hang out with friends or not share all of his text messages with us to respect their friend’s privacy, then we should be flexible.
We might find that if we respect boundaries, the lines of communication might open on his end.
9. Set boundaries and rules
Not only should we respect boundaries, but we also need to set boundaries as well.
Our teens might butt heads with us at every twist and turn, but they need boundaries and rules in the home.
If we allow our teenage son(s) free reign over everything, then when we want respect, we might not get it.
Yes, he has to do his chores before he can do what he wants. Yes, he has to abide by a curfew to be able to continue having access to his car, etc.
Teaching a child that authority starts in the home will help them better understand the respect they need to show an authority figure outside the home – specifically a boss, a coach, etc.
10. Include them
Who doesn’t like feeling included? Yes, teenage boys might prefer their privacy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t desire to feel included.
For example, ask him what he thinks about a particular situation: “Hey, what do you think about doing this on our next vacation?”
Talk about what’s going on in the world and ask his opinion. This is a powerful way to strengthen your relationship.
It also gets him to think critically and helps him on that road toward independence.
While you may not agree on every discussion, at least you can have a mature conversation together.
It does take a lot of learning about your teenager to understand how they feel they fit into this world and how you can help them navigate it while still respecting them as a human.
So much of what we deal with is their heart, and it certainly can be a struggle to endure these daily challenges.
There is a lot of prayer in my home for my children, but especially for my boys.
My husband tells me this when I feel like giving up on my son – “Don’t give up on him. My parents never gave up on me.”
I’m still navigating this super difficult stage with adolescent boys, and I hope with these tips, you will find that your relationship with your teen son is strengthening daily.
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