Be real with them
I often hear teenagers say, “Hey, I’m not about to open up to my parents. They’ve never opened up to me!” Most teenagers feel their parents are stoic, perfect, unapproachable people who think they aren't “required” to be real and honest. Most parents reserve their “realness” for a heavy discussion in the master bedroom or time out with the buddies. It’s important for our kids to see vulnerability, humility and real feelings from us. They will model what they see in you.
But, there is a fine line. It doesn't mean your kids need to be in on the details of you marriage struggles or business problems. As parents, we don't need to unload emotional difficulties on them they aren’t mature enough to handle. But remember, teenagers tend to imitate the vulnerability they observe in their parents. Years ago we called it a “generation gap.” What fills the gap is a parents’ willingness to share their real life feelings.
Let’s say your son shares over dinner about his disappointment over not starting on the basketball team. It’s solid gold when you share a story from your teenage years about a disappointing experience. We're respected more when our kids see and hear about our difficulties and imperfections. Don’t let pride rule- they already know you aren't perfect.
Humble yourself and let your kids know about the real you. It will help them navigate their lives more than you know!