In this fragmented and frenetic world, one of the most difficult things for us to do is make time to spend together. Yet, in this fragmented and frenetic world, there are few things that are as important.
My niece gave birth to her first child not long ago. He is fantastic! He was approximately six weeks premature. He spent the majority of the first two weeks of his life in an incubator. In spite of the necessity of his time in this protective environment, the doctors and nurses worked very hard to get him to the point where he could spend moments out of the incubator each day for some good mommy and daddy time. Mom and dad would sit in the rocking chair and hold their wonderful newborn child close to their chest so that he could know their rhythms, feel their heartbeat, and hear their soothing voices. The doctors knew that there was nothing better for the health of this little one than to spend quality time close to his daddy and mommy.
As children grow, it becomes more and more difficult to get quality time together. They are busy. We are busy. They are growing in their need for autonomy. However, research shows that even into their late teens there may be nothing better for the health of our children than time together.
Recent findings show that even their dependence on social media and technology reflects their deep need for intimacy. Andrew Zirschky recently blogged, "Recent ethnographic research reveals that young people’s voracious appetite for social media isn’t rooted in a love for all things digital, but in a nagging loneliness and a persistent human longing for deep belonging and connection. After three years of research funded by the MacArthur Foundation, digital ethnographer Danah Boyd concluded that teenagers use social media to establish “full-time intimate communities” that provide for always-on communication and relationships. It appears that youth appropriate technology, not primarily for its entertainment value or cool factor, but because of its potential to foster “presence-in-absence”—the ability to be with friends despite physical separation" (read the entire blog post here).
Teens not only have a need for these intimate connections with their peers, but also with their parents.
How can we reclaim those intimate moments with our teens who often act as though they are embarrassed to be seen in our presence? It can be tricky. However, it is more than worth the struggle.
Here are some simple suggestions...
Here are some simple suggestions...
1 - Become a regular "texter". Text short messages to your teen that you love them, believe in them, and think that they are outstanding.
2 - Look for small moments to be with one another. If you are taking a quick trip to the store, have them ride along (unplugged). If the dog needs to go for a walk, do it together.
3 - Remember the things that your teen enjoys the most. Find ways to encourage them in these pursuits: watch a game together, go to a musical.
4 - Find moments in the day when you can speak their name with tenderness. Teens can often go through an entire day without hearing their name spoken without a demand, question, or interjection attached to it.
5 - Make pizza together, have a build your own taco night, surprise them with their favorite Subway sandwich.
This really isn't rocket science, but it does take commitment.
You know your child the best. Even though it may seem like they are getting further and further away from you, you still know them at their heart better than anyone else. You have been with them through every moment of their life. No one else can say that. Have fun developing your relationship together. It is changing, and that is a good thing. However, your child still needs to know your rhythms, feel your heartbeat, and hear your comforting voice.
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