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Is it too late or can I become more engaged with my teen now?

April 11, 2014

By YOU Parent Facilitator

A mother enthusiastically plays a video game with her teenage son.

Question: I have not been a very engaged parent with my teenager, but now I understand why it’s so important. Is it too late or can I become more engaged with my teen now?

Answer: As parents, we can’t always make up for missed opportunities or fix mistakes. However, we can improve our approach going forward. It’s not too late for you to practice more engaged parenting techniques with your teenager.

Now is an excellent opportunity to foster your teen’s growing independence, which will prepare him or her for adulthood. Teenagers usually start to distance themselves from their parents as they become more independent, so try to slowly integrate these engagement techniques into your parenting style so your teen isn’t overwhelmed.

  • Show interest in school. Ask your teen about his or her favorite and least favorite classes. Look at the report cards. Praise your teen’s accomplishments and discuss issues if he or she is struggling in a class.
  • Support his or her physical needs. You already know that a well-nourished and well-rested child is more likely to perform better at school. If you haven’t already, start modeling positive habits by making dinners more balanced and nutritious and by ensuring your child receives at least eight hours of sleep a night. Share those meals together for engaged and quality family time.
  • Share his or her interests. Pay attention to the types of pop culture your teen enjoys. If you have similar musical tastes, share new and old favorites. If he or she is reading a book for school, buy or rent a copy and keep up with your teen’s reading schedule so you can talk about it. Sit and watch one of your teen’s favorite television shows with him or her. These bonding opportunities will help you both find a common ground and relate to each other.

These are just three examples of small ways to practice parental engagement with your teen. Remember that during the teenage years, your child will learn to become more independent to prepare for adulthood, so your engagement techniques should support that preparation.

To learn more about parental engagement and supporting your child through high school and beyond, see Through High School and Beyond in the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher book series.

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