As parents, we love our children and we do whatever we can to make their lives happy and healthy. So to wake up one morning and discover your teen is shutting you out is heart wrenching. The closeness you once had seems to be gone for good. Having raised two children and counseled hundreds of adolescents I understand how hard it can be.Remember that teenagers are going through huge transitions within their bodies, emotions and minds. They are also experiencing external pressures from peers and the world they’re trying to fit into. So now more than ever, your children need you to be in their corner looking out for them. However, the challenge is that the very changes they are experiencing makes them push you away as they learn to become independent of you.
Is it possible for parents to maintain or regain good communication with their teens? Yes! I was pleased to see a recent CNN article that recounts the experiences of many parents who successfully reach their teens. They shared their advice, including the following tips:
- Try to keep serious discussions as “light” as you can. (At the same time, avoid making them think it’s trivial to you.)
- Don’t be afraid to tackle any subject. (They will learn it from you or someone else.)
- Be willing to reveal your own vulnerabilities and mistakes. (This helps them see you as a real person not just as “mom” or “dad”.)
- Learn to keep your face expressionless and think before you speak. (You don’t want to over react when you hear something you don’t like.)
- Don’t micromanage everything for them. (They need to be given responsibility they can handle and made to feel like you trust them to do the right thing.)
- Communicate in a way that’s comfortable for your teen. (It’s easier to talk when doing things together like cooking dinner or driving in the car.)
- Start talking when your children are young. (But know that it is never too late.)
Be sure to check out the slide show at the top of Kelly Wallace’s story. These parental suggestions contain some real gems of wisdom.
If you’d like some more parenting tips, check out the five key skills all parents need on my website – Am I a Good Parent.
Please join me on Twitter and share your thought about how you keep the lines of communication open or things you remember your parents doing that really made a difference in your life. Please use #parentingtips and @KathyMarshack so I will see your comments.