Thursday, April 26, 2012

Improving Your Communication With Your Teenager (Part 1)


If you are the parent of a teenager that may be the limit to the conversation you have with your child on a daily basis.  Yet, communication is a vital foundation to seeing any relationship grow.  Yesterday on my radio show here in Gaylord, Michigan I shared some helpful suggestions to parents when it comes to increasing their communication with their teenagers.  The first one deals with listening.  As parents we must remember that mutual respect begins with listening.

Ask most teenagers why they don't communicate more with their parents and one of their top responses will be, "Because my parents do not listen to me."  And though that is surely not the only reason involved, it is often the case when it comes to parents.  If you want to increase your communication with your teenager then be sure to hear them out realizing that they may say some things you don't like or don't agree with.  Listen first.

But realize, they may test you.  Teenagers will do that.  They will say things that they don't really believe to see how you will respond.  For example, Johnny comes home from school and the following conversation takes place:

Mom:  "Hi!  How was your day?"

Johnny:  "Fine."

Mom:  "What happened today?"

Johnny:  "Billy got kicked out of school for drinking.  I don't agree with that.  I don't think there is anything wrong with drinking."

Now chances are good that Johnny doesn't really believe that statement.  What is he doing?  He's testing the waters to see how mom will respond.  And how does she respond?  How would most God-fearing, American Red-Blooded moms respond to this statement?  They would say, "What?  How could you say that?  If I every catch you drinking..."

Guess what?  Mom just failed the test.  Mom just communicated to her son that he is only allowed to share his opinion if it agrees with her.  How much will that encourage Johnny's desire to talk with mom?  Not at all.  And guess what Johnny will do?  He will instead go talk to someone else - someone who may not lead him in the right direction.

So how could have mom responded?  She could have said something like this, "That's interesting, Johnny, why don't you think it is wrong for a teenager to drink?"  What did mom do with that statement?  She just said that she wanted to hear more of her son's thoughts, ideas and feelings.  That's called "communication."  This gives mom a chance to listen and direct her son in the right direction.  She can still end the conversation with the age old statement, "As long as you live under my roof you will obey my rules."  That's fine because she listened first.

Mutual respect begins with listening.  By the way, that is true in every relationship you have.

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