Parents typically ask me to tell them what they should do (or could do) better in regards to strengthening their relationship/communication with their teen. So, I thought I’d pull together the top 5 things that teens mention about their communication or lack of communication with their parents that actually bothers them.
1) Take the time to “listen” to your teen. Many teens tell me that they don’t tell their parents certain things (bigger issues) because they will literally not remember. This can be crushing for a teen and once it happens, they will not open up and make that same mistake again. Parents please be engaged. Look at your teen when they are talking to you and show that you are interested in what they have to say.
2) Know your teen’s friends. This is critical. Some of your teen’s friends are good influences and some are bad. Meet them all and know who your teen is spending time with after school and on weekends. At the very least, meet the parents and have a cordial relationship with them if you aren’t already acquaintances. That way looking out for your teens becomes a shared effort.
3) Talk to your child during other times, not just during dinner. Many of the teens I speak with say that dinner is basically the time their parents engage with them. Teens aren’t stupid. They can feel when the questions seem forced or even rushed because you still have a million things to do later. They aren’t telling you anything of significance over dinner– trust me.
4) There is more to talk about than just school. Almost ever teen tells me that their parents always ask about school or the generic “How was your day?” question. Parents, don’t play it safe all the time. Ask specific questions about their friends, pressures, stress, boys, anxiety. Teens are perceptive. They can tell when you really don’t want to hear the tough answers so they give you the “everything is fine” routine. Don’t buy it.
5) Sometimes when your teen doesn’t want to talk…. they just don’t feel like talking. Remember what is was like being 16? It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong. The more you push, the most they will retreat. Give it a few days and see if the withdrawing still occurs. If it does then press the issue, but not at the dinner table.