We are ending this second month of the year by working on constructing a smoother road, a stronger path, easing the challenge of conversations with our children, specifically our teens. Before going on, take a moment to 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 with a trusted friend or family member.
You see, teenagers really want to be able to talk to their parents. In fact, in some cases, they’re dying because they can’t. A significant number of teens who commit suicide are those who feel they can’t talk to either parent. Their feelings of loneliness, isolation and despair take over.
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 merely 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. Neither of you can walk the path between you if it’s smothered in the fog of past hurts. 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. Again, 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. However, it needs to be a “want to” for both of you, because forcing the situation will only get you push-back. You want to grow together, not further apart.
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.