Talk to teens when you’ve checked that they are available to listen.
As parents we need to learn not only how but WHEN to talk to our teens. This is something I struggle with all the time. If there is something I need to talk to my daughter about I am not always able to, nor do I frankly want to, wait until it is a good time for her. However if you want to get respect you have to give it.
When she is just about to get to the part of the movie where Bella and Edward share a teen-angst filled kiss probably isn’t the best time for me to ask about whether grilled chicken or chilli sounds better to her for dinner. The problem is that if I wait until the movie is over I’ve lost time getting dinner started and I have 10 other things on my to-do list after that.
So… what to do? Try to be mindful of the timing of your questions and when you do NOT have to interrupt. You don’t need to know if your teen had a good day at school while the important drama of Ashley and Tyler’s love life is unfolding via text. You can start with, “Hey, are you busy right now?” If the answer is “Ashley and Tyler are fighting again and she is really upset” then you can find out how her day went later.
If the issue can’t wait, because the house is about to burn down or your to-do list is longer than mine, start with “Sorry to interrupt you but…” and state what you need as quickly and concisely as possible.
Most of the time it isn’t that your teen doesn’t want to talk to you it is just your timing and their priorities don’t match up.
Teens need to feel that their time and issues are important to you. They need to feel respected and they will return that respect.
Communicating with teens takes, time, patience and practice.
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