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Emotions Oh My!

Building Bridges: How to Connect with Your Teen and Strengthen Your Relationship

Verenice Hernandez-Herrera


Parenting a teenager can sometimes feel like navigating uncharted territory…well, let’s be real…it’s more like navigating a scary minefield…the wrong word or you asked one too many questions and forget it!  The once-close bond with your child may seem distant as they enter the turbulent teenage years. But fear not, dear parents! We will explore powerful strategies to connect with your teen and strengthen your relationship.

Relatable Challenges:

Parenting a teenager can bring about various challenges that might leave you feeling overwhelmed. Communication breakdowns, mood swings, and the constant struggle for independence are common pain points. We understand your frustration and are here to provide guidance on connecting with your teen despite these challenges.

Active Listening: The Key to Connection

One of the most effective ways to connect with your teen is by being an active listener. In a prior blog post: The Power of Active Listening: Connecting with Your Child on a Deeper Level we discuss ****how active listening requires us parents to be fully present and invested in listening.  Actively listening does not mean we should try to help them solve a problem, give them advice, or tell them what they did wrong…It means, truly listening to their story without us trying to fix their world.  Create a safe space where they feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions. Show genuine interest in their lives, ask open-ended questions, and listen without judgment. A great tip is to rephrase what your child is saying back to them as this gives them an opportunity to clarify what they really meant.  By truly hearing their perspective, you'll foster a sense of trust and strengthen your connection.

Quality Time: Making Every Moment Count

Teens may seem independent, but they still crave meaningful connections with you. Set aside dedicated time for one-on-one activities or family outings. Engage in activities they enjoy, whether it's playing a sport, cooking together, or simply taking a walk. By investing quality time, you'll create memories and show your teen that you genuinely care.  Quality time with no cell phone, Instagram, Facebook, or interruptions is also a time of healing…a simple tight uninterrupted hug heals deeply.  Quality time is essential for building a presence in your child’s life and with presence comes trust…and trust is golden!

Embrace Their Interests: Enter Their World

To connect with your teen, make an effort to understand and embrace their interests. Show curiosity and engage in conversations about their hobbies, favorite music, social media trends, and even video games!  Showing an interest in their world allows your teen to be more communicative about their interests and this, my friends, is what I call BUILDING BRIDGES!  We really must build bridges in order to enter their world. You might even discover new passions or shared interests that strengthen your bond. By entering their world, you demonstrate your willingness to connect on their terms.

Respect Boundaries: Balancing Independence and Guidance

Teenagers crave independence, but they still need parental guidance. Respect their boundaries and allow them the space to grow and make their own decisions and mistakes. Offer support and advice when appropriate, but also let them learn from their experiences. Our teens don’t need to hear “I told you so”  they will learn more from a “How can I support you”.  Being a teen and being a parent of a teen is hard, so by finding the right balance, you'll show your teen that you trust and respect their journey.

Open and Honest Communication: Bridge the Gap

Clear and open communication is vital for bridging the generational gap. Encourage your teen to express their thoughts and feelings, and reciprocate with honesty and empathy. It’s also important to note that for our kids to express open and honest communication skills, we as parents must model it in our own lives.  We can’t expect our teens to be something we have yet to conquer…ouch!  Address conflicts calmly, seeking resolution through dialogue rather than confrontation. By fostering open communication, you'll strengthen your connection and build a foundation of trust.


Connecting with your teenager may have its challenges, but with understanding, patience, and these practical strategies, you can bridge the gap and nurture a strong parent-teen relationship. Remember, you're not alone in experiencing the struggles of parenting a teenager. By actively listening, spending quality time, embracing their interests, respecting boundaries, and fostering open communication, you'll create a deeper and more meaningful connection with your teen. Start building bridges today and watch your relationship flourish.

Verenice Hernandez-Herrera

Our founder has been an educator and school counselor for 20+ years.
Read more about her here