Communicating With Your Teen
As a parent I am the most thankful for the very open dialogue I can have with my children, as I feel it has been a key component in maintaining the respectful connected relationship I have with them.
Communication is a two way street, so in order for it to be effective or productive we the parents have to be the example as to what that looks like.
If we want to understand our children and provide them with a positive foundation from which to step off of then we need to be able to provide a loving, non-judgmental space for talking. By providing that space it gives everyone involved the opportunity to share his or her thoughts and feelings in a neutral environment where everyone is heard and listened to.
Good communication happens when you are in an open and loving state because when you are in that state you are sending out an energetic signal that says “I’m approachable” and “I’m not going to judge you” which will facilitate open conversations. This provides your teenager or who ever you may be interacting with, a safe place in which to share thoughts and feelings.
It’s been my experience that most teenagers do not talk to their parents or tell their parents what is going on in their lives for fear of being judged by them. To a teenager judgment from a parent can look like anger, disappointment, anxiety, sadness or frustration and the list could go on! Having expectations for our children based on old belief systems can create the biggest block to our children feeling comfortable talking to us. If they don’t have a parent or some adult to share their fears, worries and concerns with, then they will turn to who ever will listen to them, which is usually their peers, who are also generally experiencing the same things. This is when we can start to lose our connection with our kids and this is when they start to feel misunderstood and the relationship can have the potential to break down.
It is beneficial to our children to have someone in their lives that can be fully supportive with out judgment. How we respond to our children when they come to us with a challenge or situation will dictate how much information we will receive about what is going on in their lives.
It is important when wanting to resolve something with our teenagers that we approach the matter from a place of neutrality, meaning we need to keep our emotions in check! If we allow our emotions to take over and do the talking we don’t have the same degree of clarity as we would coming from a more objective space. This can change the way we listen, process and respond, which in turn effects the way it is received by your teenager, which in turn will also effect the way your teenager is going to respond back to you. If we are always engaging with our kids while emotionally charged it will perpetuate a cycle of misunderstandings, which will likely blossom into ongoing conflict. It can be easy to get caught up in an unproductive communication cycle if we allow triggered emotions from outdated belief systems and our own fears and insecurities to be the communication guide.
This is why we need to look at ourselves first to see what triggers us and do the necessary clearing work so that we are not inadvertently undermining our relationships because we are unable to have an objective discussion. We need to take responsibility for how we respond, which will set the pace and determine how the exchange will flow.
It is so much nicer when our kids feel they can come to us no matter what is going on in their lives to a supportive safe haven in which to discuss whatever comes to the table, be it school, friendships, sex, drugs or even their own thoughts about who they are. But you the parent also have to be comfortable and prepared to talk about anything with your children without judging it as good or bad and keeping your emotions in check should a topic come up that makes you uncomfortable or possibly goes against the standards or structures’ you adhere to.
If we can sit down with our teens at any given time and have an honest and open exchange with them you will be rewarded with truly being part of their lives in a most beneficial and meaningful way.