Believe it or not, some day that child who sits in the back seat and NEVER SHUTS UP may become a blank-faced teen staring out the car window. You may only get one-word answers to your concerned and fretful mom questions.
I know I was taken by surprise when my chatty-Cathy kid changed overnight under the influence of those dastardly hormones. Trying to have a conversation is like trying to pull off wet socks… it just goes nowhere.
The ride in the car to and from school is the black hole of conversation. Take one quiet mama, one very quiet teenager, put them together for 15 minutes of “our time” – and what do you get? . . (silence) . .
Part of me is okay with that. I myself am an introvert, and I love my quiet teenage daughter for who she is. I don’t want to change her or how her mind operates, because her quiet nature is part of what makes her so special.
BUT . . . what I do worry about is that we have three years left before she graduates and heads off on her own path. I don’t want to look back at these years of being together and think, “We wasted all that time living together in silence, when we could have been getting to know one another better, or exploring new things together!”
So I have taken the initiative and started a dual journal for us. Nothing fancy, just an extra blank composition book we had. I wrote “Bridges – a journal between Janie & Mom” at the top of the first page. And then I posed a question to her, “What did she enjoy most?” about a vacation we took a few years ago.
The idea is that she will write her answer to me and then pose a question for me to answer.
I explained the entire plan to her this morning, as she was brushing her teeth. Because then she wouldn’t be able to object until I could get my whole spiel out. And she agreed! (Heavenly chorus singing!)
So we are going to commit to this and see how it goes. I think it will work for us because we both basically try to avoid talking to others, like . . . humans. Writing is a good medium of communication for us.
Which brings me to my point: it is possible to find common ground with your teen, but you may have to think outside the box to discover what works for you and your kid.
As the saying goes, the days are long but the years go fast, so take advantage of your time together.
Here are 30 ways to connect with your teen in the here and now:
- Go work out together.
- Watch a funny viral video together.
- Go wash and detail the car together.
- Bake something together.
- Let your teen plan and prepare dinner one night while you put up your feet and supervise.
- Do some gaming together.
- Read reviews about upcoming new game releases and plan which one to get next.
- Go on a bike ride together.
- Go play paintball or waterguns together.
- Plant something together.
- Read a book series together.
- Watch a video series together.
- Go to a movie together and discuss what was good and bad about it.
- Look at family photos or videos and play “remember when?”.
- Get out your child’s baby mementos and tell a few toddler horror stories about them.
- Build something together out of wood and nails.
- Play Battleship, Checkers, or cards (or another favorite game).
- Go out to eat and try a new cuisine.
- Make homemade ice cream with some new flavor combinations.
- Go fishing/hunting/camping.
- Paint something together – the front door, mailbox, house numbers, etc.
- Decorate for the next holiday together.
- Plan your dream family vacation together.
- Make a time capsule and each of you write a letter to the future other one.
- Go fly some kites at a large park with no trees.
- Attend a local sporting event together.
- Go to a local music concert, theatre performance, or museum together.
- Do your hair and makeup together.
- Dress up and take pictures of one another: one serious, one smiling, and one goofy.
- Write letters or a dual journal to each other.
After being home for a while this afternoon, I found the composition book laying on the kitchen table, unannounced. I sneaked a peak inside at the first page . . . my daughter had answered my question – using more than one word – and even left a question for me as well. Mom win!