(This post was written by Matt Grimes, Middle School Ministry Pastor)
One of the number one areas that frustrates parents is communication with their teenager. With summer vacation brings more interaction with your teen with leads to even more frustration with communication. There are a couple of pointers that I believe will help us to become better in our communication with our teenagers.
Pointer #1: Listen Completely
We all want our teens to communicate with us, and sometimes getting that conversation started can be a difficult task. However once our teens begin communicating with us it is important for us to listen completely to what they have to say. A lot of times when our teens are communicating with us we are not completely listening to them, but getting our response ready, or thinking about how we can fix their problems. It’s important to remember that if we want to be able to appropriately give advice to our teens, we have to listen completely to what they are saying, and weigh our words before we speak.
Pointer #2: Keep the Emotions in Check
As a parent one challenge in communication with our teens is to keep our emotions in check. The reality is that our teens can say some pretty surprising things, and it is vital for us to keep our emotions in check and remain calm. When we allow our emotions to explode it communicates to our teens that this is a subject that we really don’t want to talk about, which will keep them from talking about it with us in the future. It is important to not respond with anger which inevitably will start an argument, but choose to remain calm and give your answer in a calm manner, which will increase the level of trust that your teen has in you as well as making them aware that you are serious about the subject you are dealing with.
Pointer #3: Give them a Carrot
Another important thing you need to do to promote healthy communication with your teen is to give your teen something to look forward to. Just like in professional dog races, an incentive is always dangled in front of the dogs to make them run; our teens need something to reach for as well instead of always having negative consequences looming in the background, although consequences are very important. It is very important that you don’t end the conversation with a negative feeling, or thought, but that you make it a win-win situation for both sides. State your mind but with positive advice that your teen may look forward to. I know it sounds hard, but just respect your teens point of view and tell him why he or she is wrong or right on that issue and why you feel that way.
Communication with your teen is very important. Promoting healthy communication with them is vital to your relationship with them, especially over the summer months when you have more interaction with them which can quickly lead to more conflict. I hope that these pointers help to increase the effectiveness of your communication with your teen.