Our family has never been the type to say ‘I love you’ or to show physical affection. Now that my child is turning into a teenager, our relationship feels cold and distant. What should I do?

Know that there are many ways to show love and concern. While it is perfectly fine not to physically express your affection, it is not OK if you only keep all the love in your heart. Love and concern for someone needs to be expressed outwardly in some way, in order for the person to receive it. If your family has never been the type to show physical affection, don’t start now, as it would only feel unnatural and inauthentic to yourself and your child.

Here are a few things you can try to do for a start.

  1. Focus on the practical instead. Get your child’s opinions on what food he/she would like in the coming week, so that you can do meal planning to include some of his/her favourite dishes. If he/she likes to order take-out from a particular fast food restaurant, why not allow that for the whole family once in a while, even if you may not like it? This communicates that you respect his/her choices and increase the sense of belongingness in the family when everyone is having the same food.
  2. If you know that your child is going through a particularly stressful period, such as exam season or tournament season, avoid constantly questioning them about their level of preparation or their day-to-day results report, simply let them know that you are available for them. You can say something like, “I know this is an important time for you and you need to focus on your ______. I don’t want to get in your way, just let me know if there is anything I can do to support you.” No word of ‘love’ is mentioned, yet this communicates volumes about your concern.
  3. If you are not used to giving goodbye kisses and hugs at the door, that is OK. Try giving just a smile, or walk them to the door and simply say, “See you tonight!” By the way, smiles are infectious! When you smile at your child, it will be hard for him/her not to smile back at you. 🙂 In general, make an effort to smile more for good vibes all around the house!

Suitable for: Adults

Level of difficulty: Easy – moderate

Published by eygohcounselling

Eiling offers affordable and professional counselling service for children, adolescents and adults on issues related to loss and grief, trauma, caregiving stress, complex family situations and conflicts etc. Both home-based and centre-based service are available. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from National University of Singapore, as well as a Masters of Social Sciences (MSocSc) in Counselling in Hong Kong, where she graduated with Distinction. Her training at the Hospice and Bereavement Division of the S.K.H. Holy Carpenter Church District Elderly Community Centre had given her the chance to work with clients ranging from 9 yrs old to 87 yrs old. Eiling is a member of EMDR Singapore and a member of Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC).

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