Parenting Advice: Communicating With Your Teen

Article by Craig Thornburrow

It is sometimes said that teenagers live at a world of their own, but this irrational belief can lead to very poor parenting advice. The truth is that teenagers live in the same world as adults, small children and all of us. They have the same fears, hopes, insecurities and dreams as anyone else. The only difference being, that teenagers are going through a transition stage toward becoming adults. This transition is not only cultural, but also physical — hormones are racing through the teenager’s body, affecting their preferences, decision-making processes, and of course, their physical appearance.

By keeping in mind that teenagers are exactly the same as anyone else who may be going through a difficult transition period, parenting becomes easier. After all, if you assume and that your teens are “from another world,” then a right off the bat you’re going to have a more difficult time dealing with them. So let’s discuss the most effective ways to deal with teenagers going through this transition stage.

The first and best parenting advice for those with teenagers is this: talk to your teens as much as possible. This point cannot be overstated; you should talk to your teenager about anything and everything as often as you can. Even controversial subjects or sensitive issues like sexuality, politics, tolerance, drug use, and alcohol are all fair game.

Keep in mind though, that the idea here is to simply talk to your teen, not to “preach” at them about these issues. Why is this important? Really, it’s just basic psychology; if you preach to your teenagers in absolute terms, they are likely to rebel or become argumentative. It is strange that so many parents make this mistake, because they would never “preach” to their friends or other adults in this way.

And this is really the second point to keep in mind. You should speak to your teenagers as you would speak to anyone else. This doesn’t mean that you have to coddle your teens — after all, you would not coddle a friend or acquaintance. But it does mean that you should be civil and respecting of their different points of view, just as you would with a co-worker, friend or someone you had just met.

The best parenting advice about talking to teenagers boils down to this: talk to them in the same way that you would talk to anyone else. If your neighbor Fred would object to a barrage of personal questions, or being “preached at” on subjects of morality, religion, or ethics, then you can bet your last dollar that your teen will also object to being spoken to in this way.

Besides talking to your teen often and non-judgmentally, the most important advice for connecting with them is to listen. True listening is somewhat of a rarity in our society, and it requires not just hearing the words, but taking time to process the other person’s point of view and attempting to gain a real understanding of their position.

Think about it this way, you probably enjoy talking to friends or coworkers who are good listeners, right? Well guess what? So does your teen! Your teenager will be naturally drawn toward communicating with you on a wide variety of issues if you have proven yourself to be a good listener. Additionally, by doing so you are also teaching your teen by example, and it is much more likely that they will grow up to the good listeners as well.

The best parenting advice usually comes down to basic common sense, and by communicating with your teen using the same respect you would give anyone else, you will gain their trust and understanding.

Craig Thornburrow is an acknowledged expert in his field. You can get more free advice on parenting and finding a biological parent at http://www.parentingprocess.net

 

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