The developmental period of the teen years cause many parents to scratch their heads in wonder at what may seem like chaos and totally misdirected teen thinking and behavior. It is important to understand that this is a very important time for body and brain growth and the seemingly odd behavior really does have a purpose. Knowing the underlying needs, not wants, of teens can calm parent and grandparent nerves.
So many times teens appear sullen, withdrawn, uncommunicative…at least to their parents. But, in the right environment they will open-up and talk about what is going on inside their heads and their lives. And in spite of the impression they often give to parents they really want to be heard and understood. It is important that parents be prepared for whatever responses they get and try to truly listen and to understand from the point of view of the teen.
Timing is important. I often recommend searching for that golden moment when things are quiet and there are few distractions. This means that for the teen, and the parent, phones and electronic devises should be out of reach. Bedtime can often provide the time and space to just sit and be together. Taking a teen out on a “date” with a parent can also be good as long as the location is not one where the teen’s friends are likely to show-up. One-on-one time with children is critical for all parent-child relationships to develop and be nurtured.
It is important to remember that listening to your child does not mean responding with a lecture. It may even be necessary to bite your tongue in order to say as least as possible. This is time for your child to talk and unless they directly ASK for your input they don’t want it. They want you to LISTEN and just BE with them.