Does Your Teenager Feel Comfortable Talking to You?
Parents don’t receive a how-to guide when we have a baby. The hospital sends us home with a tiny human (or a couple at a time), maybe some extra diapers, and that’s it. It’s up to parents to figure stuff out! There’s not one friend or relative that explains how to lay communication groundwork during the early years and pre-teen years so when they hit the difficult teen years they’ll always feel comfortable and safe telling their parents everything!
Why didn’t anyone share any words of wisdom? Easy, none of us really know what we’re doing and we’re all focused on keeping this new human fed, clean, and NOT CRYING and not so much on the teen years.
Parent Teenager Communication
If you’re like almost every other parent in existence, and your child has entered into the teen years, this drop of knowledge is for you: we’re all experiencing this together, because none of us received the “How to Raise Your Child So They’ll Still Want to Talk to You About Everything Going on in Their Lives” manual.
Don’t stress, there are definitely tips that can help parents improve the parent teenager communication. It’s all about providing a safe space, or safe zone, for teens to feel comfortable and free to share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
It downright stinks that part of the splitting up process requires breaking the news to friends, co-workers, and if you have kids, school administrators.
Yep, just another layer of pain as your relationship comes to an end.
Improving Teens and Parent Communication
The sweet child who loved spending time with you has been replaced with this creature that grunts; or provides one-word answers to all of your questions before disappearing into his or her bedroom.
What all parents need to remember: this behavior is a normal thing happening in homes all across the world. Even if your kids told you everything before their teens, it doesn’t mean they’ll talk to you once the hormones kick in and the grunting starts. All parents can do is continue talking, asking questions, and with each conversation, make sure they feel safe and free of judgment and ridicule. And, of course, lectures!
Open Communication Between Parents and Teens
More than likely, over the first 12 years of your children’s lives, you taught your children how to think and use common sense, so they have all the right tools to make good choices for themselves throughout their entire lives. The foundation is there.
Unfortunately, the pressure to fit in amplifies during the teenage years. Even though kids know what they should do, they struggle and start to push boundaries to see if these parental lessons actually make sense. Plus, it’s not easy to say no to friends when in the thick of bad decisions all around them.
If parents want their teens to talk to them, some of these tips might help create a safe space for open communication between parents and teens.
Connect with Your Teenager
Most kids think moms are nags. Always on them about grades, how they dress, what they’re eating, how disgusting their rooms are, and getting chores done. It’s a part of growing up, and teens will always feel this way.
However, the more time spent together connecting with our teenagers doing things they love, or even having them participate in the things we as parents enjoy doing, it provides a way to connect. Even simple things like side hugs, good mornings, so glad your homes, and thanks for making dinners, lets your kid know you’re there and available to them!
When they feel connected to you, they’ll find it a bit easier to talk about everything, good, bad, and the in-between.
You would be surprised how often parents aren’t actually listening to their kids. We’re often thinking about all the stuff we need to get done, or we’re distracted by our phones, or we’re cooking dinner. When your kid wants to tell you anything, stop what you’re currently doing and focus on your kid. Look them in the eye, and make it easier for them to share by giving them encouraging looks, and gentle physical contact.
Bite Your Tongue (Stay Neutral)
Teens have a lot more life pressures than we did as teens. There’s a lot more opportunities for peer pressure and bullying thanks to social media, smartphone texting, private messaging through multiple social platforms, and those lovely disappearing messages that leave the damage but no record of the damage. It’s extremely difficult to always make good choices with all of this peer pressure.
When your teen comes to you to discuss a situation that doesn’t show them in the best light, and perhaps they didn’t make a decision you would have made, it’s okay to just listen. If they want to talk about it with you, let them speak freely and bite your tongue when you feel the urge to reprimand them. Or, lecture them. Or, shame them.
Stay neutral and just be a place they can share information and process what they’ve been through, and how they handled themselves. Let them work through how they could have handled things differently. Just let them talk!
Never Gaslight Them (Acknowledge How h4 Feeling)
Teenagers have feelings. We know, when they grunt or behave with some sass, and collect all of your plates, glasses, and utensils in their rooms, we forget they are actually living, feeling creatures. And those hormones intensify the feelings in ways they won’t always understand.
When they are slighted in what a parent may think is the smallest of ways, they feel it deeply. Don’t gaslight them. Let them feel these things, and label how they’re feeling. Allow them the freedom to feel hurt, upset, happy, stressed, inspired, or whatever – and show them how to handle the different emotions, most especially how to cope with things like sadness and stress in healthy ways.
Unconditional Love Isn’t Always Enough
Every parent hopes they are loving their kids unconditionally. Even more important, we hope our children know they are loved unconditionally. However, during the teen years, unconditional love isn’t always enough to solidify their desire to openly communicate with us parental units. Sometimes, a third party needs to be tagged in.
Release the guilt that you’re not the safe space your teenagers need in order to share their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. A parent can follow every tip, and end up with a teenager who just doesn’t want to open up. It is okay, because there are professionals who can and will help your teenager.
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