Connecting with your adopted teen is a tricky balance. Developmentally, they may be pulling away. Preparing for independence. But if you adopted them as older children, you’re also trying to build attachment and show they can rely on you. Finding common ways to have fun will not only strengthen your bond but is also the best way to help grow your teen toward maturity. Here are some things to try.
You set the budget and timeframe, but turn over control for everything else. Let your teen decided where to shop and what to buy. You might be tempted to weigh in, but resist! As long as it’s legal, go for it!
Play a Game
Even as teens, play is the best way to learn life lessons around social skills and problem-solving. Playful engagement keeps the nervous system open for learning and building relationship. Explore all types of games. Board games. Yard games. And, yes, even video games. If your teen struggles with losing, try collaborative games.
Activities that are rhythmic, repetitive, relational, and move our bodies are regulating. Dance parties can be all of those things and are so much fun! Let your teen choose the music. If they’re resistant, hold dance parties for yourself regularly anyway. Eventually, they’ll roll their eyes and join you for a beat or two 😉 Just don’t turn it into a control battle.
Cooking is a practical way to spend time together. You need to do it anyway, and they need to learn to do it for themselves at some point. Invite your teen into the process as much as possible. Let them choose the recipes. Create a shopping list together. Go shopping together. If they don’t take direction easily from you, try learning a new kitchen skill together.
Our oldest son is currently converting our old 15-passenger van into a van house. Did I have reservations about the practicality when he proposed the idea? Of course. Has he made costly mistakes along the way? Yes.
Our youngest daughter is currently figuring out how to hang 18 feet of aerial silks in our backyard so she can learn to do drops. Am I afraid she’ll end up with a broken bone? Yes.
In both cases, we made conscious decisions to be the cheerleaders, not the naysayers. Ultimately our teens need a sense of purpose and a cheerleader in their corner. The best ways to connect are found by following their lead. We’re entering into their world with as much enthusiasm as we can muster. Because they feel like we’re on their team, they are accepting a tip here and there from us. We’re all learning a lot!
How do you and your teen connect?