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Parenting Teens: 11 Steps to Effective Communication with Your Teens

11 Steps to Effective Communication with Your Teens | Parenting

As a recovering teen and a Passion Parent, I often wonder what my own child will be like when she enters her teens. My mother was an excellent communicator and teacher. I look to her example as I prepare for this stage in life. May her wisdom help you along the way.

1. Give her your attention often. 
We as parents seem to be busier than ever! Our children are involved in more activities and there are more distractions vying for our time. More than ever it is important to make time for our children. It may feel like they’ve gotten so independent they don’t need us anymore. They will tell you that they not only don’t need you around, but they don’t want you around. What they are really trying to say is that they are craving your attention. Put the Blackberry away, shut down your laptop and concentrate on your teen.

2. Share yourself first. 
We all know what the answer to “how was school?” Don’t ask a question you are sure to fail at, instead tell your teen about your day. If you open up, it may get him to open up. Tell him about a funny situation or a challenge you had and ask him for advice. Get him talking.

3. Be part of her world. 
Know who her friends are and what interests her. My mother took me to my first concert, not because she did not trust me, but because she knew who I enjoyed listening to and bought the tickets as a present. My friend, Tammy, used to volunteer for car pool duty as often as she could. She would just listen to the conversation and act as if she did not hear what was going on. The kids trusted her, because what was said in the car stayed in the car (unless there was danger to a child of course).

4. Don’t force him to talk. 

Ask “Do you want to talk?” and if the answer is “no” then respect the answer. Sometimes teens just want to be left alone. But let him now you are there if and when he is ready to talk. I remember one night coming home from a high school party. Some of my friends were trying marijuana. I had passed and thought I was handling it OK. When I came home, my mother had asked if there was something that I wanted to talk about. My first reply was “No”. I went back in and talked with her about the incident awhile later. The fact that she had given me the room allowed me to come to her. Somehow that is so important to a teen.

5. Fight fair. 
Stick to the issue at hand without bringing up the past. Create a space for her to show you the best she can be. The past does not always equal the future. Present your case and then really listen to your teen’s reply. Be understanding, but remember you still are the responsible adult.

6. Connect with him the way he communicates. 
Send him a funny message on FaceBook. Email him asking for input on the family plans for the weekend. Text him “I love you” so he knows you’re thinking about him.

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Pick your battles. 
Teens do not respond to constant nagging. Understand that she is learning to make decisions. Better to learn on relatively safe issues. You need to let her make mistakes, find her own victories and understand the consequences of her decisions.

8. Be a good listener. 
If his friend ends up involved with drugs, don’t tell him that you knew he was a bad apple. Don’t make him wrong. They are going to make good and bad choices, make sure when he wants someone to work it out with, he chooses you.

9. Value her opinion. 

Ask her for her input on a family home evening or to plan her father’s surprise birthday party. My mother made me participate in the consequence of my actions. This taught me to be responsible and did not allow me to get mad at her instead of owning the responsibility of my choices.

I am grateful for my mother who followed these parenting guidelines when I was a teen. She was always my best friend, but never at the expense of first being my mother. She never had to buy my respect, as she commanded it, yet she was always the person to whom I turned to for advice and comfort. My intent for my daughter is to be present and remember that I too was a teen once.

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