Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” I’m sure he wasn’t speaking about a successful family or successful relationship with your teen but it is still a very relevant quote in building those relationships. Being able to physically show up in your teen’s life is one of the most important components to building a more confident, supported, and resilient teen. However, with life circumstances such as traveling for work, not being able to amicably be in the same room as your ex-spouse, or late work nights, physically showing up is not always possible. Instead, feelings of guilt, shame, and regret surface. In this article, I hope to if not remove but alleviate those feelings by providing 3 practical forms of showing up, even if you can’t attend.
Emotionally “showing up”
Teenagers want to be heard. They sometimes want to brag, vent, and very infrequently (but possible) want your advice. As parents, you automatically want to problem solve even when your child is bragging but when you are emotionally showing up for your teen, you are going to instead ask them what their expectations of the conversation are.
For example, the other day my niece came over my house complaining about her frustrations in school. Instantly I thought, “I can totally solve this, I’ve been there and done that.” Except, I had to catch myself and stop her during mid-sentence and ask, “Wait, are you just venting or do you actually want advice from me?” quickly she said, “I just want to vent.” From that point on my perception quickly shifted to listening and not reacting towards her issues.
By asking the simple question, “Are you venting or do you want advice?” shows your teen that you are focused, engaged, and actively listening to them. You may think you know what your child wants to hear but it may be the complete opposite. Not to mention, this question can also be implemented in other relationships to prevent frustrations.
Another way to emotionally show up is by matching their emotion of happiness, annoyances, anxieties, or sadness. Although you may not be able to physically attend their event, just by being able to match their emotion prior or after the event allows them to feel more connected just as much as if you were at the event. Some ways of doing this are by stating that you acknowledge their emotion, matching their tone, understanding by sharing a similar story or simply saying, “I understand how that can make you feel (insert emotion).
Spiritually “showing up”
Spiritually showing up will look different for every parent. The religions and spirituality we all share are unique and therefore will be translated differently to your teen. While some parents may want to say a prayer on the phone with their child, others may want to just notify their teen that they already have or will be sending positive vibes during their specific activity. As a child, I remember my Catholic mother saying she will pray the rosary for me when I was nervous to present a project or had an exam. My mother currently lives in New York City and till’ this day, even though she cannot physically attend important events, she always reminds me that a prayer was set in place for me. This leaves me with ease and reminds me that I am supported and cared for even as an adult. What matters most here is the intent and awareness you will create for your child through spiritually showing up.
Remember the rituals you begin to set for your child, are rituals that will often be searched for as an adult.
Technologically “showing up”
We are fortunate to live in a world with incredibly advanced technology that our parents did not have. Therefore, we must take advantage of it and use it for the benefits it has. Even if you are divorced and having difficulty communicating with your ex-spouse, kindly asking if a recording or a FaceTime call to be partially be involved throughout the event is always an option. Remember, this is about your relationship with your child. Being able to report and reflect that even though you were unable to make it, by witnessing a portion of the event means that much more than the “makeup” flowers or gift. It also shows determination, persistent, and the innovative parent you are!For more information on showing up for your teen, feel free to call or text me at 786.519.4375, or just visit our contact us page to fill out a quick form. Remember to like, share, or follow us on social media to get more information about parenting and teens.