High Yield Time is Spending Time Together
Remember how adorable you thought your child was when she burped? Remember those incredible high quality moments when she sat in your lap and you read aloud while she gazed in amazement at your ability to transform those letters into an adventure? You might have even been her favorite toy.
The best moments were when you did nothing but enjoy each other’s company.
As our children turn into adolescents they have a lot of new pulls on their time including school, friends, sports and clubs. We may be busier ourselves at work, in the community, or in caring for our aging parents. Time with our growing teens is at a premium and we want to make the most of less time. Therefore, many of us focus on what we believe are the high-ticket items — school and worrisome behaviors. The problem is that the nature of our relationships change when we focus mostly on our children’s performance or behavior. Our interactions too often feel critical. Our kids may feel as if they need to perform for us … rather than do their best to become their better selves. Sometimes, they feel as if we stop seeing them as they really are, as they deserve to be seen.
Sadly, we may stop enjoying them as much.
Remember that one of the most protective forces in your child’s life is your unconditional love. This does not mean unconditional acceptance of behaviors or performance. It means that your presence and attention to him is unconditional. It means that you strive to see your teen in the best light even in challenging times. You know what drives him, including all of those traits you have always loved about him.
Remember that the teen before you is the same child that you always cherished. Recalling all that you know to be good about your child is key to shaping the adult he or she will become. It is now your privilege to watch your child grow to become a man or a woman, through both smooth and bumpy times.
High Yield Time: Be In the Moment
Good feelings about your child must not be fueled only from past memories. High yield time with your teen must be filled with moments of pleasure and opportunities to celebrate her development. So . . . take a breath. Relax. Just be together in the moment. Laugh together. Sharing laughter is a great way to allow everyone to let their guards down. Commit to always trying to create new memories. There may be less time together than you likely had when your child was young. But that makes it all that much more important to properly define high yield time as those moments when you witness who your child is becoming and when you simply enjoy each other.
Caring Parents, Sharing Teens
Communication is a two-way street. As your teen grows older, she may be more likely to share her thoughts and feelings with friends than with you. Yet she continues to bring home her grades and to invite you to her sports events or other activities. It is natural for you to focus your conversations on what you have at your disposal — grades and performance. If her behaviors are challenging, you’ll be obligated to address them. Our teens need to know that we want to really know them so we can be supportive of them in every way possible on their journey towards adulthood. When they share more with you about who they really are, you can respond to more of their needs.
We think young people have an important role in ensuring that communication between us remains on track. Our youth partners at the Center for Parent and Teen Communication have prepared a piece for your teens called: “Getting Parents to Focus On More than Grades or Scores.” It speaks to your teen about the importance of open communication. It guides them as to why it’s in their best interest to share more of themselves with you than the obligatory grades or performances. It explains why they are better off when you understand some of the thoughts, feelings and circumstances that drive their behaviors.