If you are the parent of a teenage girl, chances are you wake up some mornings to a creature you aren’t quite sure how to talk to, much less relate to; one that hardly seems like they are your child. You might be finding it difficult to talk with her about anything, let alone the important things, and that can get frustrating pretty quickly. If you are a parent to a teen, here are three easy steps you can take to make communication a little easier and make your relationship much less volatile.
Step 1: Change your mind. Even though you love them and they are precious to you, it may help to change the way you think about your child. Realize they are not a kid anymore. They are becoming a young, soon-to-be independent person. Try not to think of them as your little baby but as the young adult they are. Talk to them as closely as you can to how you’d address another adult and that alone will do wonders for your communications. Remember the words Kahlil Gibran wrote on children in the Prophet, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. . . “[more]
Step 2: Listen as if your life depended on it. Your life might not, but your teen’s might. Use active listening techniques like paraphrasing and asking questions to let your teen know you really are paying attention when they talk. Be present. Focus on your conversation and avoid doing other things while you talk to minimize distractions and show you really care about what they have to say. Put away the cell phone, etc. Don’t try to fix things for them. Listen for the emotions behind what they are saying and empathize with those.
Step 3: Be interested in what they do. Pay attention to the types of activities they like, and do those with them. Do what they like sometimes instead of just what you enjoy by taking them on an outing they choose rather than one you plan yourself. Get to know them—do you know their favorite song? Their favorite color? Their favorite food? Their best friend? Attend the sporting events or activities your teen participates in. Who knows you might find something new to enjoy!
Following these three easy steps consciously can really make a huge difference in the communication you have with your teen. Great communication can help pave the way for a better relationship overall. Get started today making a difference by showing a more conscious interest in your teen’s life.