Parents, connect with your kids even when they push away. They'll thank you for it later

Parents of teenagers know all too well how difficult it can be to feel "connected" to their kids at times.

But according to a new study, teens who feel understood and connected with their parents and teachers, may grow up to be healthier adults.

Dr. Joe Austerman of the Cleveland Clinic Children's Center says teen years are when kids learn through trial and error how to become an adult.

"Having strong, safe bonds where you can learn and practice and learn these skills confers a better benefit to you later on in life, because you've learned skills to interact with others, so you're more effective at it." 

Dr. Austerman says it's important for teens to have a safe place where they can "mess up" and learn to socialize. When they don't have these opportunities, skills aren't created and it can become a struggle for them later on in life.

He says being connected and feeling understood, or feeling like you're being  "heard" is important for all of us, but especially for teens who are creating their identity and may be unsure of who they are.

Teens need people who provide a good sounding board and also someone who will be there for them. Even though teen years are a time when kids can feel very disconnected from parents, Dr. Austerman says it's important for parents to continue to try to connect with their teens.

"Parents always feel as if their teens are growing farther away from them, that they're permanently losing these bonds, but being there and consistently understanding and you trying to connect with them will pay off when they're adults. They'll come back; trust me." 

The study also shows teens who had better connections with family and at school, had as much as 66 percent lower odds of engaging in risky behaviors and experiences in adulthood.

So here are some suggestions for how you can connect with your teen: drive somewhere together in hopes of good car conversation; go to a new restaurant; pick a new show to watch or a movie; and lastly, don't be a dictator - be a good listener.