As your kids move through toddlerhood into adolescence, one constant remains -- they regard your presence as a sign of caring and connectedness. I like to call this phenomenon "the power of being there."
Now, a funny thing happens to children once they reach the teenage years: They don't seem to want their parents around all that much. Sure, they need to have your presence in their lives. They just don't want to be reminded of that fact.
This comes as anywhere from a mild surprise to a major shock to parents who are watching their fun-loving 12-year-old become a sullen, more serious 13-year-old seemingly overnight. So, here are a few helpful ways you can still be a part of your teenager's life without pushing him or her away in the process.
1. Remember that just because a teenager doesn't say, "I love you" as much as they used to doesn't mean he or she don't love his or her parents anymore. They just don't want to say it at school, in front of their peers, or to shout it out the car window as their bus pulls away for church camp.
2. Keep in mind that, one-day, when your kids are grown up with families of their own, it's likely you will have a loving friendship with them. Until then, Mom and Dad -- resist the temptation to be one of their peers. Yes, peers are a primary influence right now---and you may want to be a part of your teen's "inner-circle." You definitely need to know who these "friends" are. But you can't be one of them no matter how hard you try.
3. Don't forget that your job as a parent is a calling -- so treat your kids like the gifts from God that they are. This one will help you through on the long, lonely days when it seems like your teenager really doesn't care about you anymore. The fact is, she or he quite possibly will feel that way at times---but she or he will eventually get over it.
4. The power of "being there" means you always will---even when it might seem impossible. Young children who grow up believing and knowing that their parents will always be there for them can face anything. Being there for your kids when they're young gives them the sense that you'll still "be there" for them when they're older... in their hearts, at least -- but not when you are hugging them goodbye in front of the movie theater.