If you are a parent who is experiencing a communication gap with your teen, worry not – it is a common concern. In fact, it is one of parenting’s biggest hurdles. Teens who wish to be more independent tend to clash with their well-intentioned parents who only want the best for them. While a difficult problem on its own, it is also just as easily solved. A healthy dose of understanding, patience, and respect can make a whole lot of difference to be able to communicate with your teen better.
The first thing to remember when trying to talk to a teen is that there are always two sides to any story. While you, the parent, may think that your teen is being intentionally stubborn when they refuse to follow your instructions, you also have to consider that they may have their own reasons for not doing so.
Take the universal situation of hanging out with friends, for example. Teens who simply want to have fun with their friends after a long day of studying may be barred by their parents from doing so for numerous reasons – all of them for their own good, of course. Unfortunately, teenagers may take this as an attack on their attempt at building their social lives.
The best thing to do when an issue like this arises is to simply listen. Avoid talking at them and instead do your best to understand the root cause of their actions. This will allow you to gauge whether or not you really are in the right and if you really should push for what you want as a parent.
Teens are already able to think for themselves independently. This is why the “do it because I say so” approach may no longer work with them anymore.
The best way around this is to simply be transparent and authentic. Using subversive methods such as misleading them or outright lying to them will only reinforce the idea that you do not care for what they want even more into their heads. It may even spur them on into using the same tactics on you, making things worse.
Despite their added maturity, some teens still may not “act their age” as we expect them to. That is, they may lash out or behave badly whenever things do not go their way. This can make communicating with them challenging, especially when the way they act is influencing you and your reactions to them. In this regard, when trying to deal with an issue, take your emotions out of it.
It can be trying, but you are their parent and it is your job to help them through whatever it is they are currently experiencing. You must know that most teens do not have the experience and the capacity to fully understand whatever it is they may be going through, so it is up to you to help them realize that or develop the skill to be able to.
When your teen asks you about something, never go on the offensive and condescend them for their struggles. For example, do not make statements such as: “What’s wrong with you?” or “Why can’t you understand?” Instead, replace them with ones that go along the lines of: “How can I help you do (task) better?” or “Do you have ideas on how you can improve your (issue)?” This will ensure that unnecessary criticism is kept at bay and only constructive criticism will get through.
Teenagers, much to contrary belief, are not a mystery. They only are if you want them to be, and only if you do not take the initiative to talk to and understand them completely. That is why you should always ready a listening ear, an open heart, a steady head, and a comforting shoulder whenever it is needed and you are sure to be on your way to an even better bond and relationship with your teen.