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Spend Time With Your Teen

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Every day in my office, I am reminded how quickly time passes. From a newborn your-baby’s first visit, to the teenager in the exam room next door who I first took care of as a newborn. Many families spend their day juggling jobs, carpool to school, running errands, grocery shopping, doctor appointments, tutoring, after school activities, community events, dinner and homework. We all seem to be moving at warp speed and loose precious time to spend with our children.

One of my patients told me “for the first time in a very long time, I got to spend time with my teenage daughter, outside the carpool line”. It brought a tear to her eye.

Spending time with your children plays a vital role in your child’s development especially during the teen years. Teenagers often spend less time with their parent for a number of reasons. Teenagers are capable of doing things on their own, some don’t want their parents around as much and parents often back off giving their teens “their space”.

Although they may not admit it, your teenager needs you to spend time with them. Start by checking their calendar and yours and make a commitment to each other. Go to a movie, lunch, a school event or play a board game. Try to make the most of your time together and keep it light. Don’t grill them about their friends or their behavior each time you plan your together time. Be a good listener… many times teenagers just want to be heard. And, when your teen initiates the time with you, try to stop what you are doing…no cell phone, no Blackberry.

This encounter with my patient reminds me of the lyrics to a song by the group Chicago…”Time passes much too quickly, when we’re together laughing”. Here’s to more laughs and happy tears with your teenager!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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