Parenting Teens: How To Connect With Your Teen (or Tween) And Guide Them - Even When You’re Screamin’ Busy!

Even with the busiest of schedules, here’s how us parents (or grandparents) can know tap into the ideal times to connect with your teenager (or tweener), deal with teen issues or teen problems, and teach them. And, we can do all of this even with the busiest of lives and schedules. This is a different, but very effective way of thinking about “quality time.” It’s like practical quality time.

What I’m about to help you understand about parenting teens has been one of the best ways to make the most of those fleeting moments with our teens. It’s how to recognize and capitalize on the opportunities to instill those things you know they need in order to grow into responsible adults.

We all battle with busy schedules … running here and there … a million things to do … work, gym, meetings, laundry, phone calls, pick up this, drop off that. Even our kids get over-scheduled with school, sports, social outings, projects, etc. It feels like we need to be everywhere and do everything all at one time. How can we make time for the one things that is probably our biggest priority – our children – without losing the pace that we must run to make life happen?

The answer is to make the most of what I call “Teaching Moments” with your kids.

A teaching moment is just that … a moment … or two … where you find yourself in the perfect situation with your child to say something that will deeply impact them because the lesson is “organic” or “occurs naturally.” Keep reading as I’ll explain both later in this article.

So take, for example, the other night, when I walked out of my son’s baseball practice and smelled marijuana. Most of us parents would do one of two things at that point:

1. Ignore it
Brush it off for any number of reasons (not enough time right then to discuss, the child is too young, it’s too deep of a subject for where we are, etc.)

2. Make the most of the teaching moment
Take a few moments – maybe 5 minutes - and ask our child if (s)he smells it too … and there creates the perfect opportunity for a teaching moment because it is unfolding as you both experience it together.

This space for a teaching moment is incredibly powerful because the lesson isn’t another dreaded lecture coming from you, or another family meeting or planned happening. In other words, it comes up organically!

I recognized a possibly teaching moment immediately that night my son and I smelled marijuana! I knew this was the perfect teaching environment to slip in a little lesson about drugs, to see where they’re at with their knowledge or experience with drugs, and to ask and answer questions about drugs.

These “organic” teaching moments provide a richer learning experience that they can relate to because they’re feeling and experiencing it. These moments have more potential to open up a free flow of back and forth discussion and questions. What could be better!

My son and I had to walk from the baseball field to the car ANYWAY – what’s different is something happened in the environment and I capitalized on the moment to talk about it all the way to the car! We had to walk to the car regardless. But now he learned a little something about drugs from me in the meantime or was able to say what was on his mind with fewer barriers to entry to the topic.

A teenager is less likely to think of what you say to him or her at this time (your lesson) as another lecture or demand because you didn’t cause it. You both just happened to be somewhere and something came up; or something happened. You’ve got to look for these moments because they create the perfect, non-threatening environment where you can more easily and naturally talk about marijuana (or whatever).

What you say will be more effective because you did not force the issue and you’re both on a sort of level playing field where you’re experiencing something together. In this environment, what you say or ask will be more welcomed because the exchange of conversation between you is merely observing an event, what someone else said or did, or other happening that could spur any number of subjects to talk about – and teaching moments.

These are ideal connecting and teaching moments because the conversations and lessons tale place in the very moment they happen. The key is to talk or ask a question or two right then and there – as something is happening.

A teaching moment could come up at any time … on the way to the store with the kids in the car, when the news is on, when you’re walking to and from places with your kids, waiting for their doctor or dentist appointment with them, etc. You just have to be on the lookout for these moments and then not waste them!

Don’t worry that there may be times when you’re lesson doesn’t go through. Just keep trying! Since these moments do not originate from you, they are less threatening. Eventually, some or all of your teaching moments will make a dent.

Try this because believe me, it works. If it doesn’t at first, try it at another time. I can almost guarantee you that at one time or another, your child will let go and jump in with you. And then you can do your job as a parent and guide them into the adult you want them to grow into – one teaching moment at a time.

By: Paul L Hagen
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