Conversation is a Two-Way Street – Part 2

Building on yesterday’s “Conversation is a Two-Way Street,” parents of teenagers often complain that they can’t get their kids to communicate. Sometimes there are good reasons why.

Teenagers really want to be able to talk to their parents. In fact, in some cases, they’re dying because they can’t. A large number of teens who commit suicide are those who feel they can’t talk to either parent, and their feelings of loneliness, isolation and despair take over. (Take a moment and remember how the major issues of your life become much smaller and easier to manage when you can get them out in the open and talk about them.)

Parents, without realizing it, do things that stop their teen-aged children from confiding in them. What sorts of things? Well, they interrupt to give reprimands and lectures instead of just listening, giving support and saving the moral lesson for another time. Or, they discount what the teen is feeling by making it seem trivial or unimportant, especially when compared to the grown-up responsibilities parents must cope with.

If you catch yourself behaving in these ways when your teenagers try to talk with you, perhaps it’s time to stop and apologize, or at least clear the air. Your teenager will appreciate your efforts to change your behavior to gain a closer relationship, and he or she will give you another chance – maybe not on the spot, but soon. Be patient, there is history to get around here.

If your communications have broken down completely, a few visits to a good family therapist can help get you back on track. Few things in life are as important as your relationship with your children, whatever their ages. Why not make it as good as it can possibly be?

Time would seem to be a finite commodity, but investing some of it in the children around us pays dividends for a very long time.