Talking To Teens
By Katelyn Thomas
The teen years are filled with challenges, but probably the most frustrating thing for many parents is talking to teens. Suddenly, that child that babbled like a happy brook has turned into an almost silent creature who communicates by eye rolling and sarcastic asides. While you may be tempted to just throw up your hands in frustration and wait seven or eight years to try again, talking to teens is important enough to keep trying.
One of the biggest mistakes parents make when talking to teens is trying to be cool, phat, hip, with it - you get the idea. Actually, your teens have plenty of friends, but they only have one set of parents. While they may seem to hate you at the moment, they'll respect you more for staying parents and not worrying about being friends. Of course, this does not mean that you have to be authoritative and unbending. You want your teens to know that they can come to you with problems and insecurities without getting into trouble or being belittled. Just don't worry about winning a popularity contest.
So, how do you talk to your teen? First, never try to hold meaningful conversations in front of friends or as your teen is rushing out the door. Instead, pick a quiet time, like the ten minutes after dinner when your teen is clearing the table for more private discussions or talk during the meal about lighter topics. Avoid questions that can be answered without much thought, like "How was your day?" Instead, ask if Mr. Simmons had a pop quiz or whether that new teacher was as mean as everyone thought.
Don't stop talking just because your teen doesn't seem to be responding. Parents who are persistent in talking to their teens usually find that their children will finally begin talking to them again, while those who give up may never be able to reopen the lines of communication.
One of the best ways to keep your teens talking is to do something special with them at least once a week. Something as simple as an hour at the mall followed by a visit to the local coffee shop or juice bar can really help you stay connected. Camping, hiking, tennis, and miniature golf can all be great ways for your teen to spend time with you in a relaxed environment. Even watching a favorite home video together can be a great way to encourage your teen to open up. However, whatever you choose to do with your teen, make sure that you don't cancel your time together because something else came up.
Finally, if your teen's sudden change of mood is combined with bloodshot eyes or jittery behavior, you may have a more serious problem than an uncommunicative teen on your hands. Teens experimenting with drugs often stop talking with their parents. If you suspect that your teen has a drug problem, get professional help.
About the Author: Mama On the Go offers parenting tips and timesavers for busy moms. Visit http://www.mamaonthego.com for printable parenting resources, articles and more.