Author: Dr. Lori Maldonado
One of the most intriguing chapters in the ever-evolving journey of parenthood or grandparenting is the transition from child to teenager. Parents often find themselves bewildered by the sudden changes in behavior as their child transforms into an adolescent. It’s a phase that can leave parents and grandparents wondering how best to communicate with this new and sometimes enigmatic individual now residing under their roof.
Step 1: Embrace Moments of Silence
- Not every conversation needs to be profound. Accept that one or two-word answers during dinner discussions are common. Give your teenager space and time to open up. Be ready to engage when they are prepared to talk. Flexibility is vital when nurturing the parent-teen relationship.
Step 2: Listen Actively
- When your teenager confides in you about a problem or a distressing situation, resist the urge to provide immediate solutions. Instead, actively listen to what they have to say. Summarize what you’ve heard, allowing them to clarify their feelings and thoughts. Sometimes, helping them articulate their problems is more valuable than any advice we can offer.
Step 3: Seek Permission to Advise
- Recognize that your teenager is growing and becoming more independent. When they face challenges that seem beyond their capacity to handle alone, seek their permission before providing guidance. Asking for their consent for advice demonstrates respect and acknowledges their transition to adulthood. It conveys that while they are maturing, some challenges can still be daunting, and it’s okay to seek assistance.
Step 4: Choose the Right Moments for Personal Stories
- While sharing personal stories can be valuable, picking the right moments is crucial. When your teens are opening up, they need your full attention. Save your anecdotes for later, allowing them to take center stage during these vital conversations.
In the intricate dance of parent-teen communication, understanding when to step forward and when to step back is key. It’s a journey filled with moments of learning, growth, and the realization that our teenagers are individuals with unique perspectives and experiences. By offering them the space, respect, and support they need and following these practical steps, we can foster healthier, more meaningful connections into adulthood.