Friday, September 08, 2006

How To Communicate With Your Teen




Do you have a teenager? Have you talked to them lately? I can hear the laughter now. Sometimes we just can't talk with them. That's life.

Don't forget, you were a teenager, too. Did you run home from high school to tell your mom everything? I didn't. But, when I was ready to talk, I really wanted to talk. I also yearned for hugs and kisses, even though I tried to run when I saw the kiss on the cheek coming.

Talking with a teen is important. Below are some ideas of the best times I have found to talk. Enjoy!

1. Riding in the car. There is something about the car that my mom discovered, and myself as a mother of teenagers has discovered--kids talk. I don't know if is the small space, the vibration of the engine, or the fact that everyone is strapped down and not going anywhere. Some of the best, most honest conversations have been in the car.

I suppose a big reason is that I am in one place, secured, and the younger brothers are also secured. Everyone knows I can listen without having to do the dishes while burping the baby and getting a snack for the preschooler.

Of course, my teen daughters can't go anywhere either. It is hard to have a slumber party and a serious discussion on the phone with your mother around. So we talk.

2. The dinner table. How often have we heard from family "experts" that a regular family dinner at the table can help families? Before I go to far into this one, I want to come clean. We do have dinner at the table, most of the time. Are they all successful and beautifully, peacefully accomplished? Not a chance. Sometimes help getting the table set is enough to exhaust my patience completely and make me run and hide. Sometimes we are grumpy. Food has never been thrown, though (yet). But, there are times when peace reigns, even if it is over macaroni and cheese and green beans. We laugh, we talk, we tease, we bond.

3. After dates. Okay, I am almost 41. Late hours and me don't happen. Dates are over pretty late. My kids have a curfew, and at dating age (16 in our house) this curfew is midnight. When a daughter has had a great night, they talk and talk and talk. One dad I know would make milkshakes after dates and sit and talk with his daughter. If it was a good one, talking with the teen is better than sleep.

But, there are sometimes bad dates, past curfew dates, "I-wonder-what-you-have-been-doing-dates. I don't like those. I would rather go to bed than be the parent. I don't like correcting my children. But, I do. Surprisingly, they listen. They may not admit it. They may say some pretty sad things back. I may not know it for a few days, weeks, or months (or years!), but my input did count. They know I care.

4. Working together. Two words not often put together with teenagers. But, when it is done, once again there is no where to go doing dishes together. Dishes are boring. Talking is more fun.

6. Camping. Camping and hiking really is fun, but requires the ability to handle down time. There is no television or computer to fill the down time. There could be, but wise parents know how to leave the computer at home and the cell phone in the car. Even "boring hikes" require some form of communication. Try it.

I am sure there are more ideas you might have that are also successful. Let me know.

1 Comments:

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