Raising teens: Gifts parents can give them – Part 1

Teens bring positivity and hope to our world. Raising teens also brings challenges to parents. Let’s explore some gifts parents can give their teens to help them become successful.

A father embracing a son near a car.

Raising teenagers can sometimes be a struggle for parents. Parents may feel frustrated and disconnected from their teens. Teens are going through lots of changes during their adolescent years. Some of those changes may be physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual. Michigan State University Extension believes it is important to develop a relationship with our teens so they know we love and support them. This series of articles will explore gifts and strategies adults can use with teens during these years of change and development.

In the book, “10 Best Gifts for Your Teen, Raising Teens with Love and Understanding” by Patt and Steve Saso, the authors explore teen development and ways parents can form relationships with teens by giving them supportive gifts. This article will explore the first five gifts shared in their book and Part 2 will share the last five gifts.

The first five gifts are as follows.

Respect. Respect is the foundation for all healthy relationships. It is important for teens to learn how to respect their parents and gain respect back. Parents need to remember to take teens seriously and separate what they do from who they are. It is also important to avoid comparison and honor their plans/wishes.

Room. Teens need room both figuratively and literally. Give teens privacy to begin the process of becoming their own person. Let them also have space that can be their own such as a bedroom or a sectioned off area of your home. Encourage freedom for them to grow and explore their emerging adult identities.

Receptivity. Listen to your teens with empathy and an open heart. This does not mean you have to agree with them, but it does mean listening to understand. It also means hearing their perspectives with a nonjudgmental attitude. When you help them understand your unconditional love for them, that helps build a respectful relationship.

Revelation of self. Being open with your teen about the person you are reveals that parents are people too. Revealing oneself helps build a caring and understanding relationship. In addition, show interest in your teens’ activities and spend time with them. Look for opportunities to be vulnerable and be honest with your teens about who you are.

Responsibility. Responsibility helps people become successful. Teaching teens responsibility can be hard but in the long-term helps them become productive. Giving teens choices is an important part of teaching responsibility. An equation shared in the book says that choices plus consequences equals responsibility. Help teens set goals, give them jobs, and hold them accountable to help them become responsible, successful adults.

Using some of these strategies and gifts, parents of teenagers can achieve a foundational relationship built on love, understanding and respect. It is important for parents to keep trying and to stay engaged in their children’s lives. Teens may not always appear to provide the love and understanding back, but it is there.

Part 2 explores five more gifts from Patt and Steve Saso’s book.

To explore more parenting education articles or classes, visit the MSU Extension Parent Education website.

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