What can we do now to make our children’s adolescent years enjoyable?

    “What can we do now to make our children’s adolescent years enjoyable?” Ensign, Dec. 1978, 25

    As parents of a young family, my wife and I want to help our family avoid the friction so often associated with the teenage years. What can we do now to make their adolescent years enjoyable both for us and for them?

    Michael Farnworth, Family Resources faculty, Ricks College You are wise in dealing with a very real problem in family life before the crisis arrives.

    Most parents accept without question the importance of touching, caressing, and spending time with their young children to establish close emotional ties with them. But as children grow older, many of the experiences shared with parents during childhood become only memories. Physical expressions of love from parents sometimes seem childish to teenagers, and peers usually usurp the parents’ role as best friends.

    However, the physical affection and playtime shared by parents and young children need to be expanded to other forms of acceptance and interaction in adolescence—not abandoned.

    I believe parental companionship is the answer. Structure your family life while your children are young so that you continually learn new activities and hobbies together as they grow up. Then when they are older, your children will continue to seek parental involvement. This might mean spending money on sports equipment instead of on home improvements. It might mean having your own ego deflated after being soundly defeated at bowling. It might mean listening to your son long enough to realize that he has a very logical, hard-to-ignore point about grown-ups in general. It might also mean sore muscles from working in the garden, a bad sunburn from a river expedition, or a tearful eye from a tender moment in the back room.

    As I talk to teenagers, many express a basic frustration about interacting with their parents, and I’m convinced that teenagers aren’t the only ones making a difficult transition. It seems parents have a hard time making the transition during this unstable period, too. The idea of parental companionship won’t solve all your problems, but it can make some of them enjoyable and easier to handle.