Talking to Teens: Parents’ Guide for Discussing the Big Issues
As your kids transition from childhood to their teens, it’s important to continue communicating even if it may be more difficult. They’re gaining responsibility and becoming self-sufficient, making them less inclined to ask for their parents’ advice. If you’re finding that your kids don’t come to you as much anymore, there are a few ways to re-open the paths of communication.
Don’t Push It
It’s easy to get frustrated and upset when your teen won’t talk to you about a problem that they’re having. Your first instinct may be to press the issue – but it’s best not to. By asking too many questions or trying to lecture your son or daughter, you can frustrate the situation and push them away. It is better to take a breath and encourage them to come to you when they feel ready.
Once they do want to talk, make sure to approach the subject with an open mind and the willingness to see eye-to-eye with them. Don’t attack them with antagonizing questions; create a conversation by asking them if they’ve thought about big issues such as sex, drugs, and college. See what their decisions are on the topic first before jumping to any kind of conclusion.
When you talk to your teen about tough issues, it is best to be honest with them. If you are nervous or uncomfortable about certain subjects, voice your hesitance so that they can understand your feelings. They will probably be nervous too, so admitting your feelings will help keep the conversation grounded.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Even though you have more experience, teens won’t react well if you act like an expert in the subject. Be real with your son or daughter and speak openly about how you dealt with the issue when you were their age and what you learned from the experience. If you allow your teens to ask questions about your experience, it will help them open up about theirs.
Be a Parent, Not a Friend
It is very important that, even though you want to talk to your son or daughter openly, do not try to act like their friend. They are coming to you for advice for a reason and want the wisdom and reassurance that you can offer as their parent.
Don’t worry about trying to be hip. Simply be yourself and give them the best advice you can to guide them to make their own decision. Ultimately they will deal with the issue how they see fit, so it is best to keep communication open as they navigate through the many issues of adulthood.
Remember, it is better to have an uncomfortable conversation than to not talk at all. As long as you are open and willing to hear what your teen has to say, you will let them know that it’s okay to come to you when issues come up. The more you talk, the easier it becomes to understand your son or daughter as they transition into young adulthood.
If you’re worried about these discussions or you think your teen may need more help, Stenzel Clinical Services are here for you. Feel free to contact us to set up an appointment with one of our counselors.