Communication is one of the keys
I believe you read my post on “How do teenage problems affect the parents?” (Click here to read) one of the keys to grow with your teenagers is to open up communication channels. As parents, you can’t accomplish anything if no one is listening. Communication is the cornerstone for a positive relationship with your teens.
Over these years when my children are growing up, I read quite a bit of books and practical advices from gurus on parenting teenage children. Without exception, all of them stress the importance of “communication”. Recent years, I have been involving in the church’s youth ministry, I find what I have learned in parenting my teenage children extremely useful to engage conversation and build relationship with these young men and women.
I am just sharing a few tips to start opening the lines of communication with teenagers.
When you give your opinion or ask your teen questions their first reaction is you don’t trust them. Build trust early. Show trust by giving them some age appropriate freedoms. However, make it clear that if the trust is broken, freedoms will be taken away until the trust is rebuilt.
2) Practice Honesty
At this age, adolescents develop their thinking skills. They are very aware of what you say and are sensitive to consistency. If you say something and do another, they will recognize your actions as two faced. By being dishonest you will lose their respect and your ability to lead.
Demonstrate that their opinions matter and that you are interested in their life. Since teens are dialed into the here and now, ask questions they find relevant. Ask them what they like to do for fun or where they may want to live after high school. A back and forth conversation helps break through the walls build a bond the lecturing cannot break through. It’s best if you don’t wait till they are older to open the lines of communication. The earlier you open the lines of communication the more likely they will stay connected during the teen years.
4) Stay Calm
Teenagers are still formulating their opinions and will take every opportunity to test their arguing skills. Avoid falling into a power struggle. Listen to their opinions even if you do not always agree with their perspective. The key is choosing battles wisely. Yelling and getting angry is an invitation for a battle royal. Keep the volume down and stay calm to show you have control of the situation. They will be more likely to mirror your behavior and have an “adult” conversation.
5) Spend Time
Close relationships are produced by spending time together. With today’s busy schedules, it can be a challenge to spend time with the family. However, it is crucial to squeeze out regular time out to spend with your teen and keep the lines of communication open. Hold non-negotiable family times, and attempt to have dinner together as often as possible to ensure quality face time with your kids.
Please bear in mind that Rome is not built overnight. Parenting your teenage children takes much of your time and effort. However, the most important ingredient is to LOVE them – not so much the ways that you are familiar to show love, but learn to speak the love language that they could understand. If you want to learn more about these languages, please click here to read my book review on “The 5 languages of love” by Dr. Gary Chapman.