Talk show host Wendy Williams recently broke down in tears, on the air, saying "My 13 year old son doesn't like me anymore". I think most parents have had this experience. The time when you realize that your little child, the one that loved holding your hand, the child that giggled at your silly jokes, your child whose eyes light up when you come to get him from daycare, is growing up, and all of the sudden it seems like she doesn't like you. Sometimes a child will even say "I hate you." Ms. Williams says her heart is breaking. She sees her son prefers to be with his father, her husband, and she feels like she has become the "enforcer". Dad is there for doing cool stuff together and Mom is a pain. I saw the story here, abcnews.com. The panel does a good job of exploring this issue. The general sentiment was all teens don't like their parents at one time or another. The advice given is solid: You don't need to be your child's friend. Setting limits is good in the long run. Listen as much as you can to your teen, and give them space.
I want to go a little further with my thoughts and advice. I don't think it is a given that teens have to go through a stage of disliking their parent(s). There is a way to keep the relationship close and positive. When a child makes it clear that he doesn't enjoy your company, think about why. What is your day to day life like together? Most 13 year olds do not want to be nagged. If your relationship with your teen is spent telling him what to do and what not to do, he's not going to like being with you. This is where you need to give them space. I suggest looking at the rules you are enforcing and decide which rules you can relax a bit. Maybe you can come to a compromise about cleaning her room. It doesn't have to be everyday. TALK to your child, teach him the meaning of compromise. But talk to your child in a gentle respective way. LISTEN to his opinions and views on different subjects. Your job is to keep him safe and there will be rules like curfew and homework that must be enforced. It is much easier to enforce these rules when you can openly discuss why the rules are in place. You may be surprised at your teen's willingness to keep the rule, but maybe with her own twist. "It's easier for me to do my homework after I watch TV for an hour." See if that works out for the both of you.
Also get the fun back in the relationship. Ms. Williams' son may enjoy talking shoes and sports with his dad, but I am sure there are activities he enjoys doing with his mom. For my teens, it was cooking and baking. I have fond memories of getting a new cookbook and guiding my teenage boys as they followed recipes. They cooked elaborate dishes I would have never attempted. They still call me for recipes and it's wonderful to share this with them. Maybe you could walk the dog together and just talk. No agenda. Just to be with each other. These times will do wonders for your relationship. Each parent has something unique to offer their child. Use your interests and strengths to keep your child in your life. Let her know that spending time with her is where you want to be. When he feels that unconditional love, when he knows that Mom really loves him even when he complains about taking out the trash, it will be easier for him to follow your rules. Let's not give in to the notion that one parent is for fun and one is for rules. It's not fair to you or your children..