Teens and their parents have one major relationship flaw - communication. For the most part, after kids reach the age of 10 or so, adults tend to sound like the adults on the Charlie Brown cartoons - wah, wah, wah, wah, wah .... We just get tuned out because we have nothing of importance to say. This leads some parents to believe that they have to be friends with their kids to be heard. But that's not exactly the right tactic, either.
It is possible to communicate with your teen without sacrificing your authority. The fact is that you are not your teen's friend. You can be friendly, you can be empathetic, sympathetic, and a host of other "etics," but you are not your child's friend. Friendship may come later, but not during the teen years. During the teen years, you need to be your child's rock, not her friend.
This doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't have a great relationship with your teen. Although teens naturally break away from their parents and test their independence during these trying years, they still need their parents, and they still need a hug sometimes. As parents, not so far removed from the teen years ourselves (at least not long enough to have completely forgotten the trials and tribulations of our own teen travails), you'd think we'd remember how hard they were. Still, there's something about lending one's DNA to another individual that renders us unable to remember the horrors of hormones, hang outs, and hook-ups.
What is it about teens that they refuse to see that we are much cooler than our own parents? Surely, even our obviously challenged teens can bear witness to the fact that we are sooo much more hip than grandma and grandpa! Not! To every generation of teens, the mere fact that we are related or an authority figure makes us taboo.
The fact that teens are naturally progressing toward the age when they will be making their own decisions means that they, equally naturally, reject being taught. To communicate with teens, parents need to move away from lecturing and "advice" and move toward a relationship where you do more listening and less talking. Sometimes a sounding board is all teens need to logic a move out for themselves. A good sounding board bounces back what the teen is saying rather than reiterating what the kid has already heard a thousand times. Have faith - your ability to listen now, after years of talking and teaching, will be rewarded as you watch your teen grow into a responsible, happy, and productive adult.
Take a step back and remember your own teen years. Did you drive too fast, not wear your seatbelt, stay out too late, cheat on a test, or worse because you didn't know any better? Probably not. Rest assured that your kids know better, too. Heck, as you hit the gas and blow through that yellow light because you're late for work, aren't you aware, as an adult, that you might get a ticket, or worse, get into an accident? Sure you are. The point is that we all make bad decisions. But those decisions are ours to make. Although we expect to take the hit when we do something wrong, we sure don't want to receive a 5,000-word lecture detailing our faults or our inability to think for ourselves. That's never productive.
If your relationship with your teen lacks good communication, he will find someone more welcoming to communicate with. Although many parents believe that parenting means always being the bad guy, this does little to make teens feel safe about talking when it comes to tough subjects. A kid who can recite verbatim her parents' repeated lectures about taboo behaviors certainly knows the subject matter, but knows little about how her parents actually feel about what's going on.
It's ok, as a parent, to let your kids know that the territory is as new for you as it is for them. It's ok to let them know that you're looking for solid ground, too. As a matter of fact, most kids respond rather well to a parent who can admit that he does not, in fact, possess infinite knowledge about everything. Parents are not omnipotent and teens know this. The parent who can admit that she has to work together with her teen(s) to achieve positive results is the parent who has a teen who is more willing to do so.
Posted By: Aspen Education Group