Listening to teens and communicating effectively sounds like a foreign concept at times. Parents communicating with their teens can seem like another language. The reality is that parents need to understand that it’s critical at these teen years to speak less and listen more. I know that sounds backwards but by leading through example your teen will see that your actions match up to your words. The need to solve and fix is strong when you see your child upset, hurt or feeling lost and confused.
Learn to turn off your “critical parent alarm.” As hard as it may seem try to listen without a reaction and the instinct to judge. When your teen comes to you and says they met someone they like for the first time, you may instinctively want to rush in to tell your teen that he or she is way to young. By doing this you have created a wall that has prevented you from being able to hold a healthy and meaningful discussion about relationships and healthy sexuality.
Some of the parents I have spoken to over the years often say that if they could go back and do it again they would have taken a less critical approach.
In today’s helicopter hovering child centered parenting we go out of our way to insure that our kids experience little to no pain at all. Absolutely no catastrophes in their childhood that would negatively affect their lives. Many parents find ourselves saying incessantly:
– “Did you make sure to brush your teeth and get your bag ready for school”
– “Don’t forget to take your medications.”
– “Do not forget practice is at 4:00.”
– “You better not forget to turn in your homework first thing”
I understand we don’t want bad things to happen to our children. Can we really control them from happening? When children are young, this is not just normal but necessary. But by age ten, their brains have formed enough that they can and should take more responsibility. When we constantly remind them of important items or tasks, they learn to instead depend on others to do things for them. They should be doing it themselves. We actually enable them to rely on others rather than on themselves, and sadly, we’re encouraging them to blame others when things go wrong instead of taking accountability for their lives.
Consequences are a natural part of life and must be learned on our own. Listening to teens and communicating is key to your success and the success of your child’s development.