Last week I accompanied my daughter to Purdue University for a program for prospective students. While I didn’t look forward to the 4 ½ hour drive each way, I knew this would be a nice opportunity to spend rare mother-daughter time with my busy teen. We chatted about her friends, college choices and my own reminiscences about college days until I dozed off as my daughter drove through bleak winter farmlands asleep under a gray blanket of clouds. We arrived in time to grab Panera salads and rush back to the hotel room to watch the Oscars, lounging on plush beds, crunching croutons and commenting on pretty dresses and what we thought of the nominated movies. It was great spending casual time together.
Early in the unaccustomed eastern time zone, we dragged ourselves out of bed to experience the university together and have an amazing varied lunch spread at one of the school cafeterias—no limited choice of mush as in my day! After perusing some fun local shops, we headed home in darkening rain, taking turns driving and sleeping.
I’m afraid this was one of the few times I have left to spend with my nearly grown daughter before she leaves me for the difficulties and excitement of college life. I tried to make the most of it, appreciating the delight of sharing her life for a couple days despite occasional teen moments of irritation. I gave her my full attention and tried to listen without judging or thinking ahead about what to say or disagree with. I asked questions, we listened to her music CDs in the car, I tried not to be the parental unit for a change. We had a more grown-up relationship that was quite refreshing.
This week I came across a great article on becoming a better listener posted on the (not-so-) Dumb Little Man website. It is recommended reading for everyone, not just for business or for husband/wife relationships, but for parents and kids, too. The listening tips will go a long way towards a better relationship with your teen, letting him or her feel valued and more at ease in confiding and sharing their life. You’ll be modeling great relationship skills that hopefully your child will pick up on, too. We all want good memories of times spent with our teens.