Raising a family in today’s world can be challenging. Times have changed, and parents today can’t fall back on the same parenting skills their owns parents used. Communication has become a major goal for most parents, especially those with teenage children. Your child needs to feel safe coming to you with whatever issue they are struggling with, but how do you walk the line between parent and mentor in a way that they’re comfortable talking to you? Here are 5 tips to make it easier.
Be an Example
Don’t be the parent that says “Do as I say and not as I do.” You’re the parent, and if you want your child to trust you enough to talk to you, they need to trust you. If they see you saying something and doing something else, they won’t trust you enough to talk to you about anything important, whether that’s something as simple as the failing grade they got on their last test or something a little bigger, like the drink they had at that party last Friday.
Consistency is an important part of communicating with your teenager. Don’t set rules and then change them a week or a month later. Don’t apply rules to one child that don’t apply logically to another child. If your teenager feels they’re being singled out for no reason, they’re going to feel less comfortable coming to you with issues.
Quality Time to Talk
Choose the right time to talk to your teenager. When you and your teenager are relaxed and not rushing to get somewhere, take the time to talk about what’s going on in their life. Make sure they understand that your concern is sincere and that they can open up to you without judgment. Then listen to them and, most importantly, follow through on the not judging part. Be there for your child. Listening can be the key to understanding and getting them to trust you.
Be involved in your teenager’s life. This means you need to show interest in what they’re doing. If they ask to go to a party that everyone’s going to, don’t just say “Okay, have fun!” Ask where the party is, and how long they’ll be there. Who are they going with? When will they be home? While they might be irritated and complain about it to their friends, most teenagers, deep down, appreciate when their parents take an interest in their lives. It lets them know that their parents genuinely care about them and what they do, which makes them more likely to come to you if anything goes wrong like they get pulled over for drunk driving and get a DUI.
Outside the Home Guidance for Your Teenager
Communicate with your teen that there is always someone to help and listen. Sometimes teenagers cannot talk to their parents about certain issues and there is no point in trying to force information from them. Let your son or daughter know that there are other adults in their life who are there to help them. For example, a respected pastor, doctor, or teacher.
Parenting teenagers can be challenging. But by showing you care and simply being there for your teenager, your child will be more likely to tell you about whatever is going on. Once they do, help them with love rather than judgment, and work through any problems together. Viewing articles and videos, and discussing topics like drugs and alcohol with them can be a good bonding an informational session for both of you. Doing this can provide a common ground for parents and teenagers to share their ideas and concerns, and grow your relationship even more.