“I can’t take one more minute of this!”
“Don’t you dare think you can talk to me that way and get away with it!”
“Why don’t you ever listen to me? Do you think I’m talking to hear myself?”
“I don’t know why you have to make things so difficult!”
Even though we don’t like to admit it, many parents have either said, or heard someone say these things to an upset teenager. We try to tell ourselves that our teens are just making their problems into bigger issues, because things are no different than when we were teenagers.
News flash: things ARE different.
Then vs. Now
In our day, you didn’t find out that you missed out on a party until Monday when you got to school. Now, teens are posting pictures everywhere, and your child knows immediately that they’ve been left out.
In our day, magazines and movies served as our inspiration for our looks and fashion. Now, kids are inundated with images of supermodels, TV stars, reality TV, social media starlets, and the Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat feed of kids they try to emulate.
In our day, being bullied meant that someone might knock your books out of your hand, or pass a note about you. Now, private messaging on social media allows for kids to be silently bullied while the whole world watches. And the result of this bullying is that suicide, teen violence and self harm have become more common.
In a world of in your face, up-to-the-minute moments, most of the conversations for many parents and their teens start with, “Could you put your phone down for a second?”. That ever familiar scroll-scroll-scroll of seeing what else is going on makes it hard to connect with your teens. Often, they don’t even know how to say what they’re thinking, because their thoughts don’t come out in 140 word phrases. Furthermore, they can’t edit, filter, or tag anyone, and they don’t like how messy and uncontrolled an open dialogue can be.
How to Approach Communicating With Your Teen
So where do you go? How do you help them? How do you draw them out, so they can share even the smallest things, like how their day was?
As a parent, it’s okay to not have all the answers, and to not get where they are coming from. However, offering to listen is the first step. So, if they don’t feel like they can talk to you, offer to find someone they can talk to. This is the best second step you can take. And a counselor can open those lines of communication. We can help them explore who they are, and how their feelings play into their role in the family. If you’re tired of the sadness of being frustrated, now is the time to ask for help.