How to be a Present Parent

By Marthé Teixeira

As adolescents mature, they do experience a desire for privacy, and spend more time with their peers trying different identities and learning to deal with physical change.  While this occurs parents feel as though they are losing control and even connection with their teen. I am sure most of you have experienced the scenario of your child swinging open the front door, throwing their backpack over the chair and rushing to their room, slamming the door behind them and shutting you out. 

Being a teen life coach, I interact with teens on a daily basis. What I hear most from teens, which might surprise parents, is that they really need someone to talk to and want their parents to be more present. Everyone has the calendar hanging on the wall of the kitchen filled with things to do. Sporting events, dentist appointments, birthdays, doctor appointments, field trips, days off, and this goes on for months. It hard to be present parents with daily distractions of life, work and even with technology. There is even a new term called “texting while parenting,” for parents who are constantly on their phones or computers.

The other day I was driving home and I saw a car parked with the trunk open. A teen girl and her mom were sitting next to each other both on their phones, and I thought, we are so distracted with social media we never get to focus on right now.

Here is a list of how to be present, in the moment, and joyful with your teens:

  • Make time for family meals. How great it is to sit together after a long day and share stories. Perfect way to connect and be present with one another
  • Turn off technology when with your kids and ask them to do the same. I notice even if I put mine on vibrate, I find myself checking it. When you are completely powered down, you know what is in front of you is most important
  • Say “thank you” to your kids. Let them know how much you are grateful for the amazing child they are – especially your teens. They really need to hear it, as going through adolescence is not easy!
  • Simplify – you don’t need to do it all every day! Doesn’t that sound great to hear?  Put aside your “to do list” for a day or even an hour.
  • Gratitude Journal – I write in mine every night before I go to bed. I write a few sentences of what I am grateful for that occurred during the day. It is great for parents to keep a journal and list things that they are grateful for that happened that day with their kids.

Marthe Teixeira is the founder/CEO of Stixs and Stones and a life coach for teen girls. She works with local schools, colleges and organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club and Strong Women Strong Girls, and she coaches one-on one with clients. She currently has a weekly advice column to help parents of teenagers navigate the pitfalls and perils of teen life. Marthe is eager to affect positive change in the lives of teen girls, as she has personally experienced struggles and challenges as an adolescent girl.