Positive Communication between Teens and Parents
By: Mayra Vargas, ACS Intern, Community Counseling Program
Communication between adolescents and parents is one of the most difficult things in the realm of family relationships. Adolescents in the teen stage begin to explore and experiment with their own identities, and that can sometimes cause a shift in the parent-adolescent relationship. Sometimes, parents don’t know how to communicate with their children because they are no longer the young child that they knew. Adolescents want to be their own person and make their own independent decisions, which can cause conflict in their relationships – especially with parents. The emotions and thoughts that are going through teens’ minds are not what the parents see but their actions (i.e. behaviors) which sometimes causes conflict at many levels. A parents’ ability to positively communicate with their teen can have a long lasting effect when it comes to having a good relationship. According to the website Empowering Parents, there are tips that can generally work for parents when it comes to communicating with their teen and/or other children.
One of the first tips for parents to navigate and have a positive communicative relationship with their teen is to empathize; try and understand where the teen is coming from. It can often be difficult to understand where the teen is coming from and there are assumptions which causes challenges in the communication process. For example, starting a statement with ‘I understand that it is difficult to concentrate on the homework because..’ or ‘I know you need pass this class, maybe we can brainstorm how you can manage your homework load tonight.’ These statements show that you are trying to affirm a teens’ frustrations, while also trying to collaborate with them to help.
Another tip is to ask curious questions and not loaded ones. This means parents ask participatory questions of their teens instead of asking questions that will automatically put them on the defensive. For example, when a teen is not doing a chore, the best route is not to exclaim ‘Why are you lazy?’ or ‘Why can’t you remember a simple task?’
These types of questions are loaded because they automatically put a teen on the defensive; in their eyes, there is no correct answer they can give. Examples of questions you could ask instead are ‘Do you have any ideas that will help you remember your chores?’ or ‘How can I help make chores more manageable for you?’
If they don’t have any suggestions, then be sure to have some readily available in your mind and try to start a collaborative discussion. The point of this of this type of communication is to encourage a teen to think for themselves, giving them more control of their own behaviors and thoughts – which is what they seek at this stage of development.
The relationship between parent and teen is important because it allows parents to understand what their child is thinking and/or feeling. The key is not to be afraid to talk to teens, even though it can sometimes be an uncomfortable process. It is better for them to come to a parent knowing the conversation can be productive, rather than bottle up their frustrations or going to others that might not have the best answers or advice.
For more tips, see this source: http://www.empoweringparents.com/five-secrets-for-communicating-with-teenagers.php