I can’t even count the number of times my teens have said this to me. I know I’m in good company and as most parents can attest, teens are fond of accusing parents of not understanding what they are going through.
In a way, they’re right.
It’s A Different World Now
Your teen’s experience, as they grow up, is profoundly different from your own because they are living in a different era. You can’t ignore the influence the internet and social media has on their lives. The pressure to not only fit in but also be seen is immense and we have to understand the impact on our teens. Thanks to the rise of technology, we can never presume to truly know what it’s like to be them. The world is just too different.
One thing to remember though is that as much as the world has changed, your teen still has to cope with the same emotional and social issues you did. Your wisdom and knowledge in these areas are invaluable and you are in a position to understand their emotions, if not the situations that brought them about.
Improving Communication With Your Teen
Luckily, teens usually just need someone to vent or talk to. Most times, they don’t need you to charge in and save the day, they just need you to listen and be supportive. Here’s how you can do that:
- Take an interest in their lives. Getting involved in your teen’s life can have a positive impact on their future. So go ahead and ask them about their day at school, their hobbies or friends and pay full attention when they talk.
- Show them you are fallible too. A good way of getting through to your teen is letting them know that you also struggled with certain problems while growing up. Tell them how you had a hard time making friends or how you worried about your weight too. They’ll see that you also had stuff to figure out and you turned out alright.
- Choose the right time to discuss issues. Instead of trying to solve problems when emotions are high, learn to wait for an opportune time when things are calmer. This could be at dinner time or as you both drive home from school. Talking when relaxed allows both of you to be more receptive to what the other person says.
- Avoid lectures. Giving endless lectures makes you come off as condescending and hostile. Definitely not what you were aiming for with your teen. Instead, keep communication lines open and when they come to you, listen without judgment.
- Have regular family meetings. It also helps immensely if teens feel their opinions matter. Family meetings are a great way for the whole family to air their views, clarify issues and seek solutions that everyone agrees with.
Getting your teen to trust you enough to open up calls for a lot of patience and compromise. However, this is a small price to pay for a happy teenager and a peaceful home. Wouldn’t you agree?