As parents, we may find that talking with our teens is an exercise in futility. There is so much going on in a teen’s mental, emotional and physical processes, that we begin to feel like interlopers if we try to talk with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. However it will take a bit of concerted effort – and a large measure of patience and forgiveness from both parties – to get these vital conversations off the ground.
So, what should parents do if they want their teenagers to confide in them? Dr. Joyce Vedral, author of several books on the teenager-parent relationship, asked a large number of teens to answer this question, and here is what they said.
Generally, teenagers tend to feel comfortable talking with those parents with whom they can laugh and joke, parents whose understanding the teens know they can count on. When asked why they would choose one parent over another to confide in, they invariably say they choose the one who stays calm even when they, themselves, are emotional, the parent who never says things like, “That shouldn’t bother you.”
Here’s something else that’s critical. In our efforts to get our teenagers to talk to us, many of us neglect to talk to them – especially about how much we appreciate, love and admire them. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our efforts to keep our kids on the right track that we forget to tell them how great they are. That is a weighty mistake, but it’s one that can be fixed.
Nothing can be more encouraging and more conducive to building their self-esteem than you, taking the time to express confidence that they have what it takes to make it in life. They may not tell you on the spot how much your approval matters to them, but believe that it does.
And dump the guilt, if you haven’t done these things so far. That was then, this is now. There is no time like the present to start! Be patient, especially with yourself, as it may take a little time. There is a bit of history to get around. However, your kids will love you for it…even if they don’t come right out and say so.