Communicating With Your Teen: Don’t Take it Personal
Has your bubbly little girl grown up to be a self-centered, sarcastic teenager? Has your funny, energetic little boy become a sullen, one word communicator? You may feel like your teen either shuts down or becomes argumentative within the first five minutes of any conversation. How do you get your teen to open up to you without he or she becoming defensive or critical? Although it may seem like an affront, it is not about you. Don’t take it personal.
As parents, we desire to teach, train, guide and protect our kids and indeed, that is our job. Our kids have spent their entire life striving to understanding us. After all, we are the most important and powerful person in their young lives. But, when our young ones become teenagers, they make a shift from figuring out their world through their parents’ authority, to figuring out who THEY are in this world. They no longer want to take their cues from their parents perspective, but rather, they want to see and experience the world so they can develop their own perspective and understand who they are in relation to their family, peers, school and the world around them.
Our kids are very vulnerable during this part of their journey. We parents are still the most important persons in our teens’ life but they don’t want the pressure of parental power in their face. Our influence often feels very controlling and our teens are trying to learn how to take control of themselves.
Because our teens are vulnerable and sometimes insecure. They use sarcasm, defensiveness and criticism as a way to cope. Don’t react in kind. Counter their sarcasm, defensiveness and criticism with unconditional love. Your teens may act like they don’t want your opinions but they have a deep need to know that you love and accept them, even when they are not being lovable. Simply telling them “I don’t appreciate that tone in you voice, but I love you” and walking away can take the edge off their defensiveness. The message: You are important to me and we are going to get through this, together.
Delinda Samp © Copyright 2012