Communication is the single most important aspect when parenting a teenager.
We can give them a sense of compassion, understanding, and support. We can listen to their opinion. We can peacefully discuss a situation.
On the other hand, we can convey to them that we are disappointed and angry about what they did. We can scold them for not doing what we told them to.
The way we respond to, or address, our teenagers will determine if they will come to us for answers and advice the next time.
Your teenager will let you know when he is disappointed. He might even be insulted by the way the discussion is going or how he’s being treated.
He will tell you. Not directly, but with phrases such as:
Whatever you say” or You just don’t understand” before walking away.
What these phrases really imply:
He thinks he has absolutely no input in matters that concern his daily activities.
He feels you are treating him like a child by not giving him a chance to state any of his thoughts on the subject at hand.
You are just not listening to him at all.
Take a quick inventory of what was said and ask yourself where you cut your teenager off or out or stopped listening to his side of the story. Comments like these are a big STOP sign.
If you cannot recall with what exactly you turned your teenager off, ask him.
Here is an example:
One day your teenager comes home from school and tells you that one of his friends started to smoke.
You can either tell your son that he better not be smoking, and that if you ever catch him you will punish him one way or another.
Your teenager’s response in this case is going to be something like:”Sure, dad,” and he will turn and walk away.
Now you wonder if he is planning to take up smoking and worry about it. Your teenager is frustrated because you treated him like a child by lecturing instead of listening.
These events will lead to a stressed relationship, constant confrontation, and total frustration for you as well as your teenager.
On the other hand, you could find out what he is thinking and how he sees the situation.
If your teenager approaches you with a story or lets you know about something a friend is doing, you can be assured that they have an opinion about the particular situation.
Seize the opportunity to find out your teenager’s values, thoughts, and opinions. Give your teen the message that you are interested in his opinion and want to hear it.
He will be less hesitant to approach you the next time around, eager to talk about whatever is on his mind, discuss it with you and thus draw on your knowledge.
Before getting angry, consider that your teen may have come to you about the friend smoking” situation –
to talk about how disappointed he is in his friend
how angry he is with his friend because he knows that smoking is unhealthy
Your teen may want, or more importantly may need you to tell him how proud you are of his choice not to smoke.