Most parents begin to feel alienated when their kids turn teenagers.
Suddenly, the children, who looked up to us for everything, no longer seem to need us anymore. We are at a loss at how to handle the situation.
This sometimes leads us to get frustrated, become hostile, suspicious, and as my daughter says, ‘psycho parents’.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all advice for communication with teenagers, each kid is different.
Having said that, there are a few ideas, which could help in steering you in the right direction.
Rethink of Ways to Communicate
It is important to revamp the format of communicating with your children when they turn teens.
They will changing and will no longer have stories to tell you the minute they walk in through the door. So, if you are stuck at that mode of parental expectations, you are sure to be disappointed.
Accept that they have grown. It isn’t that they do not need you anymore; they just need you for different things now, try to adapt to that need.
Listen and Observe More
Teenagers are quite confused, and are unsure of what they can share with you, so they give out verbal and non-verbal clues to gauge your reaction.
If they feel that you are either over-reacting, or worse, not paying attention, they may just not want to continue to communicate with you anymore. Let them understand that you are stable, and can go thorough anything they have to tell you, without bursting a nerve, they will come to you more often.
Respect Their Thoughts
Do not treat them like children anymore. ‘I am a parent, I know better’ – does not work at all with teen children. Don’t say it, even if you feel it. Hear them out, and then have a conversation like you would have with a fellow adult, much like a feedback session at work.
Something like, ‘I get what you are saying, but just a thought. What if, we dealt with this in this way’, always works better with growing teen children A discreet steer could help them go the right way, and they will also be secure enough to discuss things with you.
Pick Your Battles
This is an age of constant disapproval. Food habits, clothes, socializing, taste in movies, music, etc; the list goes on and on, for things parents disapprove in teen children.
The road to peace is to pick your battles.
Find a few things that you are absolutely non-negotiable about, and communicate that to your teenager with the reason for you to feel so. The rest you can compromise on. For example, if your teenager wants to paint his room purple, when you have a light colour scheme for the house, let it go. It is not going to damage your life.
Communication, Not Interrogation
Whether you like it or not, at some point in their life, children withdraw into themselves and their peer groups. It is then that we start worrying for the worst, and interrogating them about what they did, who they talk to, etc. This just makes them withdraw even more.
Do not snoop, and respect their privacy.
The idea is to make them want to talk to you, and not to insist on it. Some teens tend to be closer to one parent, for some reason. There is no reason to worry about that. As long as you have a healthy relation with your spouse, he or she will tell you if something needs to be discussed.
Adolescents are prone to thinking that their parents do not understand them, and that they know better. Honestly, we really do not understand them, even though we have been there. Somehow we conveniently forget how it was to be a teen. Most important point is, to let them know that as parents, we love them, and we will be there for them, no matter what.