During the first 12 years, you may have enjoyed a close, affectionate relationship with your child. But after puberty, things change. Your child wants to put early childhood in the past, and the push for self-definition and independence begins. The older teens get, the more they seem to look elsewhere for communication and relationships. This is natural and healthy for a teen evolving toward adulthood. But if you don’t handle this distancing well, it can be aggravated to the point of damaging the relationship. The consequences can be distressing to a concerned, loving parent, who wants the parent-teen bond to grow stronger.
Fortunately, there’s an effective way to promote greater intimacy in the parent-teen relationship. The best article I’ve read on this topic is “13 Ways to Get Kids Talking,” by Chris Hudson, founder of the website, Understanding Teenagers. In my view, all 13 of his recommendations are on-target. I highly recommend that you read the article and work towards implementing all of them.
At the same time, 13 is a lot of insights to hold in your mind! Perhaps a good way to begin is to focus on one or two of the most powerful skills. Then, when you feel comfortable, integrate the rest.
In my opinion, the most powerful skill is listening. It’s so fundamental to parent-teen communication that without it anything else you try may fall flat. Here are three articles that can empower your efforts to improve your ability to listen well:
- “Listening – The Parent-Teen Master Skill”
- “Listening Well to a Teenager Can Be Hard – Some New Encouragement”
- “The Listening Moment and the Listening Mindset”
The second most powerful skill is asking open-ended questions that encourage a young person to think and share his or her thoughts. This technique has some wonderful benefits:
- It helps train a teen’s mind to think
- You learn more about your child’s perspective and life
- It validates your child as an emerging adult
- It boosts self-esteem and self-confidence
I describe this technique in Chapter 5 of my new book: How Your Teen Can Grow a Smarter Brain.
For more about parent-child communication skills, get the book, Connect with Your Kid.
This book, along with Parents Coaching Parents, will help you make change happen.