Everything we do as a parent makes an impact…even when it seems like nothing we’re saying is making a difference. (Unknown)

As a life coach, a common question from parents is, “What should I be doing with my teenager?” The key is recognizing that you are their biggest role model, and despite outward appearances, your teens appreciate your interest in their lives.

Begin by exploring your teenager’s room, noticing books, music, or podcasts. Ask questions about their interests, and embrace the mess as a reminder of their fleeting time at home. Connect with your teen’s friends, inviting them over and spending quality time together. Being the go-to house creates a positive influence on a broader group of teens.

Show up! That sounds so easy to do, but in adult work life, it can become chaotic and often difficult to show up. However, I tell parents to make a plan to show up to their teenager’s game, play, awards ceremony, class project presentation. Anytime you have the opportunity to watch and see what your teenager has been working so hard on, it is worth creating the time. You may not be able to make the entire football game or swim meet but plan to show up for a portion of the game. Afterwards, provide encouragement to your teenager. I emphasize – provide encouragement. You are not the coach or the teacher. Be the parent. Your teenager has a coach, a teacher, that will provide feedback from the game or the project that they turned in. At this moment, your role is to be your teenager’s private cheerleader.

Allow your teenager to find their own path. While it’s tempting to solve problems, giving them space fosters self-esteem and confidence. Let them experience failure, champion their positive attributes, and guide them through understanding the lessons.

For a quick and easy connection, share an inspirational quote on their way out every day. This subtle gesture conveys your thoughts and encourages self-reflection. An index card with an inspirational quote from your teenager’s favorite athlete or role model taped onto the door that they go out of everyday on their way to school. It is a subtle way of letting your teenager know that you are thinking of them but it also provides intrinsic motivation. The simple idea of an inspirational quote for your teenager to read as they walk out the door can provide the opportunity for some self-reflection and may be the push they need to focus on the positive for the day.

Lastly, inject laughter and fun into your relationship. Take a break from being the “perfect” adult and enjoy moments of dancing or sharing funny videos. Remember, laughter is a universal language that strengthens the bond between parent and teenager.