Parent: I had no idea you wouldn’t be completely sedated for the procedure. You’re in grade twelve you should be fine with this.

Teen: What does my age have to do with it? I’m not ok with this? I didn’t think I’d be awake!

Parent: I had a c-section to have you. So you can do this. I’m not rebooking anything, this is happening today.

                    * * * * * * * * *

Teen shares what is bothering her.

Parent: Why would you be upset about that? You have no idea what I have to deal with.

                  * * * * * * * * * * *

Parent: That was so much fun, I’m glad we spent time together. Isn’t this so much better than your stupid electronics?

                 * * * * * * * * * * *

Parent leaving message on teen’s cell phone

Parent: Please call me back. You didn’t come home last night. Do you know what you’re doing to me? You can’t act this way! Call me back, we need to talk.

                  * * * * * * * * * *
Teen: You never listen to me! You don’t even care about me!

Parent: What do you mean I never listen to you? I’m listening to you right now! And if I didn’t care about you, you wouldn’t be driving my car or wearing the clothing I bought you!

                 * * * * * * * * * * *

Did you catch the theme in each senerio?

If you put yourself in the teens shoes would you feel understood? Would you want to open up to your parent?

The focus was on the parent and their feelings…. only. When you apologize and add a but, it’s not really an apology. To say you’re concerned and then put down their feelings doesn’t make the concern genuine.

Some teens might act out, scream loader to be heard, swear or blame you or others. Some teens shut down. They refuse to speak. They smile all the time so no one asks them questions. They will deny issues or respond with “I don’t know?” When pushed to open up.

What happens if they open up? Will their feelings be denied? Will we jump in with advice or criticism?

I urgue you to step back and think about your encounters with your child. Practice active listening. Just listen. Give them some empathy “Wow that sounds frustrating.”

If you only talk because there is an issue, why would they want to talk to you.

Work on your relationship. Ask them to join you for a walk or a trip to the coffee shop. They might say no. But don’t give up on them.

Relationships are give and take. If we want them to open up, we have to show them we care. Listen to understand, NOT to respond.