Ashley Blank, youth faith-formation administrator at Ithaca’s St. Catherine of Siena Parish, offers the following suggestions on how to build your relationship with your teen:
* Spend one-on-one time together in addition to family time. This allows the child to feel special and that you are listening.
* Share experiences. Take turns sharing things you like to do.
* Look for opportunities for discussion — about moral choices, current events, hopes for the future. Respect your child’s answers.
* Listen more and answer less. Wait until you are asked for your opinion. Your teen won’t be ready to really listen to you until he or she is the initiator of the discussion.
* Establish rules and boundaries, and stick to them. Teens want you to be consistent.
* Confront your child’s mistakes with calmness, and correct with firmness. Show a love and respect that has his or her best interests at heart.
* Exercise your faith in front of your teenager. Don’t just say it or preach it.