17 Oct The Gift of Relational Presence: How to Connect With Your Tween
THE GIFT OF RELATIONAL PRESENCE:
How to Connect with Your Tween
You know how it goes. Life moves fast, responsibilities pile up, and before you know it, weeks have gone by without really connecting with your tween. You want to be fully present for them during this formative time. Still, quality time together can feel like an unrealistic luxury between work, chores, and the nonstop activity of life. The truth is being relationally present for your child doesn’t require elaborate activities or perfectly uninterrupted blocks of time. It’s about creating moments of meaningful connection through being fully present – making eye contact, listening without distraction, affirming your thoughts and feelings, and sharing bits of yourself. While life may not slow down anytime soon, with some intentionality, you can forge deeper bonds and build a lifetime of cherished memories with your tween during this season of growth and change. The gift of relational presence is one of our most precious gifts.
Understanding Relational Presence
Relational presence means being fully present with your tween. It’s about connecting with them through quality time, active listening, and open communication.
Make eye contact, give them your full attention, and listen without distractions when talking. Put away your phone and make conversation a priority. Ask open-ended questions about their life, friends, interests, and activities to start meaningful discussions. Listen to understand their perspective and share your experiences from when you were their age.
Do small things together like cooking a meal, exercising, gardening, or pursuing a hobby you both enjoy. Physical activities release endorphins that boost mood and bonding. Find opportunities for laughter and play. Engage in debates on issues they care about to challenge their thinking in a supportive way.
Express interest in the things they’re passionate about. Attend their sports games, plays, or other events when you can. Cheer them on and celebrate their achievements, big and small. Your presence and encouragement will mean the world.
Make time for regular check-ins to see how they’re doing and if they have any concerns. Be open and approachable so they feel comfortable coming to you if they struggle. Provide empathy, advice, and reassurance.
Relational presence is about the quality of time over quantity. Make the most of the moments you have together through active engagement. Your tweens will appreciate your efforts to truly see, hear, and understand them during this transitional stage of life. Strengthening your connection will benefit you both for years to come.
Practicing Active Listening With Your Tween
Connecting with your tweens and teens requires effort and patience, but it’s worth it. One of the best ways is through listening. Give your child full attention when they want to talk, make eye contact, and engage with follow-up questions.
As parents, ask your kids to regularly sit down together without distractions and start a genuine conversation. Ask open-ended questions about their friends, activities, and interests to get the ball rolling. Pay close attention to both their words and body language. Nod and make small verbal affirmations like “uh-huh” to show you’re listening.
Also, rephrasing what they’ve said to confirm your understanding. For example, say, “It sounds like you felt left out when your friends went to the park without inviting you.” Ask follow-up questions to ensure you have the full story before offering advice.
Take your time checking your phone or walking away. Make the time to engage with your tween actively. While it may initially feel unnatural, focusing on each other will help strengthen your connection and build trust.
With practice, active listening can become second nature. Your tween will appreciate your genuine interest and support. Strong communication and quality time together can make a difference during these formative years.
Making Time for Shared Activities
Making time for shared activities with your tween is one of the best ways to strengthen your connection. Set aside time each week to do something together that you both enjoy. Some options to consider:
- Cook a meal together. Cooking side by side is a great opportunity for conversation. Let your tween pick out a recipe they want to try.
- Play board games, video games, card games—whatever you both like. Laughter and friendly competition can bring you closer.
- Get outside. Go for a walk or bike ride, play catch, fly kites, garden—being active together in nature is good for the body and soul.
- Do a hobby you share. If you enjoy photography, art, woodworking, or whatever, set time aside to pursue that interest together.
- Watch a show. Pick out a TV series to watch together each week. Curl on the couch, enjoy snacks, and bond over the story and characters.
The specific activity matters less than making the time to connect. Be fully present by putting away distractions. Ask open-ended questions to start a meaningful dialog. Share stories from your life and listen to your tween’s stories. Express interest in the things they care about.
Making relational presence a priority will help strengthen your bond during the ups and downs of the tween years. While it may require effort, the rewards of a close, trusting relationship with your child are well worth it.
So go ahead, put down your phone, and make eye contact. Ask questions and listen. Share stories from your life, too, not just interrogate them about theirs. Laugh together. Hug them if they’ll let you. The teen years will be over before you know it, so make the moments you have count. Give them the gift of your full attention and relational presence. Though it may not seem like it now, the effort you put in today to connect with your tween will shape the quality of your relationship for years to come. Your kids are worth it. Be there for them in the little moments and the big ones. Make connecting a priority, and the rest will follow.
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