Got any plans with your teen for spring break?

“She wants to talk to me, hang out with me, she’s laughing more, and even asking my advice.” – Nikki H.

Over the holidays, I saw a lot of posts in my community from heartbroken, amazing, parents whose teenager or young adult had a very different idea of what ‘together time’ looked like.

Few things cut deeper than feeling rejected by a human you love so much, have invested so much time in and sacrificed for, yet they just want to hide in their room.

You’re allowed. It hurts

But it doesn’t have to.

It starts with an expectation – a vision, a picture, a sense, a feeling, something in your mind about what holidays or weekends are going to look like. Your brain creates this unconsciously, and at lightening speed, so you might not even be aware of it.

You’re carrying out your part of your expectation, assuming (or hoping) your teen wants the same without having communicated your thoughts to them.

Fast forward to when your vision doesn’t happen, you feel hurt and resentful, thinking or saying, …

“Excuse me! I pay for your school/university, I paid for your trip home and now all you’re doing is sitting in your room on the phone I also pay for! I put a roof over your head, food on the table and now it’s a holiday and you don’t even want to spend time with me?” 

You feel like you’re running a restaurant or hotel.

From gutted to guilt trip

After asking your teen for a day or time to hang out, watch a movie, play a game, go for dinner, go shopping… whatever their favorite thing is or activity you used to do together, their response is, Um, I’m good, thanks”, or “Actually, I’d rather just go to my friend’s place”.

Ouch. Your bid for connection didn’t just fall flat, it was rejected.

When you feel that sting, you start dropping teeny, critical, or shaming comments under your breath or through clenched teeth intended to remind your teen of their relational obligation and guilt them into spending time with you (your parents may have modeled this).

For example, they want a ride somewhere or money to do things without you.

“It’s my car and my money. So no, not unless you do X with me.” AKA – You don’t get to enjoy MY resources unless you use them to spend time with ME.

That’s transactional, a form of manipulation that sends your teenager on an all-expenses paid guilt trip because your pain feels too big to carry alone and it’s their fault anyway.

Blame is the illusion of resolution.

Now your teen is responsible for the solution or restitution, so you feel loved and secure in your relationship, leading to more resentment, arguing, or complete silence, all driven by unspoken expectations (your teen likely had one too).

Current data shows that by the age of 12 your tween has spent 72% of their living waking hours with you, and by 18 they’ve spent over 90% of their living waking hours with you. Separating from you is physiologically, biologically necessary for independent living and successful thriving as an adult.

Permission to grieve.

This process of your teen pulling away is normal, painful, and messy. Making space for yourself to express your feelings, process them, cry, journal what your heart wanted, what you thought it was going to be like. This isn’t work you do with your teenager, that’s not their job.

Ask over assume.

Be curious and be compassionate with your expectations. Ask your teen to create agreements that respect both of you in your changing relationship dynamic. Remember teenagers don’t love planning and tend to let things unfold organically so be flexible and know it’s not about you.

“I’d really like to spend some time together, maybe have a game night? I know you want time with your friends and to decompress too. Could we put something in the calendar?”

You are modeling and taking responsibility for your feelings, ownership of your experience, and not projecting it on them. You’re also demonstrating self-advocacy and respect, so you’ll get more of that back from your teen.

Maintaining connection with open, respectful conversations is exactly what I walk caring parents like you through on the daily. It starts with my proven 3-step framework in a science-backed process, so you feel calmer, more confident and loved in the challenging teen years.

Click below to get your seat now in my free masterclass to end the heartbreak and rejection now!