How many times have you wondered how to get beyond answers like “fine”, “I don’t know”, and “uh-huh” with your teen?
Do you miss the kid that once rushed home with stories to share? Have you longed to see the teenage face that is always hidden behind a smartphone screen?
You aren’t alone. Despite a pandemic, homeschooling, and months of restricted socializing, teens and parents still struggle to connect in homes everywhere. It’s a natural thing for teens to pull away. They’re seeking their independence internally and socially. That’s perfectly okay. But you don’t have to let them do that completely on their own. You still have a job to do. Your guidance is perfectly natural (and necessary) too.
It’s simply time to switch up your approach to communication. Though the generation gap is revealing itself, you have the power to bridge it in ways that are comfortable and honor your changing relationship. Consider a few helpful communication strategies below:
Steps to Bridge the Communication Gap with Your Teen
1. Recognize that Being Overly Authoritative Is Counterproductive
Most people don’t like to be bossed around or have their failings pointed out to them. Your teen is likely to be very sensitive to such treatment. While you may see them as a child in need of correction, it’s important to acknowledge that sometimes learning comes by failing. Thus, a more supportive role may often be your best strategy.
As long as your teen’s safety isn’t in jeopardy, consider loosening the reins and acknowledging that, despite their limited experience, your teen is a person with their own emotions. Honor their need to explore their own capabilities. When mistakes and missteps occur, refrain from putting your teen on the defensive. Instead, invite sharing and communication instead of doling out criticism.
2. Focus on Emotions Rather than Behavior
Often teens and parents enter into a power struggle over responsibilities and privileges as the highschool years wear on. Handled indelicately, this can lead to rebellion, distrust, and communication shut down. This doesn’t have to be the case for you and yours.
Try to maintain a compassionate and calm state of mind when discussing chores, dating, driving, and family obligations. Resist the urge to nag or demand. It’s okay to be firm but allow some space for negotiation and respectful appeal on your teen’s part. Acknowledge their feelings about that babysitting job every Friday or earning a later curfew.
Show them that their feelings count and will be factored in when your requests for compliance are made.
3. Listen Rather Than Lecture
Teenagers have lots of thoughts and they are spilling out somewhere. They may be unloaded on a best friend, in a journal, in a text thread, or on a vlog channel. Regardless they want to be heard and understood.
Be a part of your teen’s trusted audience. How? Listen very closely and demonstrate the ability to hear without dismissing or judging their journey. If your teen seeks advice, succinctly give it. If they just want you to know something important, file it away and give them a hug.
4. Resist the Urge to Be “Cool”
Your teen knows that you aren’t one of them. It’s a good thing that you don’t talk, dress, or act like them. It would likely be awkward if you tried. Your teen needs you to be stable and secure. Being a cool parent is actually being a loving parent. Provide an open door and a soft place to land.
5. Show Respect & Stay Curious
Respect is crucial now. Develop communication that fosters mutual esteem and admiration. Be positive and engage your teen. Honor their attempts to get a handle on growing up, even when they stumble. Willingly make time for the things and experiences that are important to them and talk them through.
Ask questions about friends, fears, goals, and more. Ensure that positive interactions outweigh the negative. Even when you disagree and have to set firm boundaries, discuss the reasons and talk it out.
Seek Help to Reach the Primary Goal for Your Teen: Total Wellness
The whole aim of parenting is to raise a whole, happy, resilient person, You want to prepare them to take on the world and thrive, you know this is a process fraught with a million concerns along the way, Fortunately, you aren’t on your own and neither is your teen. Therapy can help smooth the way. A kind teen counselor can provide your teen with tools and skills to process and manage their emotions safely and optimally. You can both rest, assured that the support received is unbiased and compassionate.
Please read more about teen counseling, contact us soon, and let’s move forward together.