Raising teenagers today is truly a challenge. Technology, for all its conveniences, has enabled today’s teenagers to seemingly tune out even further from their families. We can wage a war against texting, Facebook and the like or we can embrace it and use it to our advantage. Communicating well with your teen need not be complicated or contrived. It’s a work in progress, just the teen themselves.
Adolescence is a stage of development that is fraught with uncertainty, self-consciousness and tremendous social pressure. Your teen is not only growing up but also trying to navigate a confusing and often unyielding world in which they are rarely taken seriously. Throw in unstable and unpredictable hormones and you have a recipe for frequent meltdowns. Having a stable, predictable and loving ‘home base’ is not only comforting but also necessary.
Since your teen is likely very comfortable with technology, why not utilize it as a means of keeping an open line of communication with them? Invite your teen to e-mail you something that’s on their mind but that may be hard for them to talk about face to face. Reply to them in the same manner. A certain bravery often arises using this form of ‘talking’ to one another. Both parties can not only be more open but also have the opportunity to edit their words to be most effective.
The ‘listen twice as much as you speak’ rule of thumb applies here, too. Invite clarifications of their statements and encourage elaboration. Refrain from judgment but let them know what values are important to you. Remember, they want to do the right thing and ultimately they do want to please you.