“Children will put out ‘feelers,’ drop
little hints, to see how you’re going to
respond,” she says. “If you don’t, or
you respond negatively, they know this
topic is off limits and won’t bring it up
again. If you discredit their feelings,
they won’t want to talk anymore.”
But when you connect with your
teen or tween, he’ll reach out when
he’s ready. As a parent, it’s up to you to
watch for his signals.
It may be hard to pick up those
signals if your child is constantly
on the phone or computer. Dleikan
suggests creating games to set limits
for the whole family. For example,
putting all the phones on the dinner
table; the first to reach for one has to
sing a song or hop around on one foot.
You can also encourage your
children to help plan low-tech family
activities they enjoy, such as camping,
cycling or hiking.
When times get tough
Children often don’t realize how
parents experience difficult events,
such as the death of a loved one or a
Dleikan advises parents to
share their own feelings, without
interrogating kids on theirs: “I lost
someone” or “My heart’s been
Remember, if you feel out of your
depth, you can ask for advice from a
family doctor, counsellor or therapist.
Health Link Alberta also offers 24-hour
Teenagers can be contradictory. They
try to push away from you. They wipe
off their cheek after you kiss them. But
the moment you stop can be scary for
No matter how hard they push you
away, all children want and need to
feel connected to their parents.
Keep reaching out—it’s never too
late. That connection is going to anchor
their growth and development for the
rest of their lives.
— Judy Hamill