"In most ways, kids are pretty much the same as they've always been. Nuts. But in most ways, the world around them is incomprehensibly different. And also nuts... It is an adolescent world different from the one you recall... When your son tells you that you "don't understand," trust him. You don't. Neither do I. He lives in a culture foreign to both of us." - Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy! by Michael J. Bradley, Ed.D
If teenagers (and parents) are much the same, and it is the world that has changed around us, then it's time for a new approach. Do you find yourself using the same techniques and responses over and over with your teen, to no avail? Are they sometimes the ones your parents used on you and you swore never to use them with your own children? OMG, have you turned into your parents? Have you heard the definition of insanity? It is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results. So how do we begin to create different results?
Many parents share that their number one concern in parenting a teen is the 'communication gap.' They feel that if they can somehow have a meaningful conversation, they stand a chance of helping their child through these baffling years. Your teen's normal state is a state of confusion. Here is the number one step for breaking through the confusion and becoming a person they trust.
In order to open the door to a conversation (of more than two or three sentences), is to acknowledge what your child is feeling. Kids don't want to be told how to do it better ("Did you try... ?") or that they are silly for feeling the way they do ("Don't be ridiculous. You're good at basketball. You just need to practice."). They want someone to listen. Hmm. I know I've felt this way, too, and I'm in my 50s. Imagine how much more critical it is for your 15-year old to just be heard. Don't fix, don't judge, don't critique. Just listen. Then listen some more. Eventually they'll get the idea that it's okay to share with you, even if you don't always understand. And if you don't, ask them to explain it to you. They may protest, but they really do want you to know. You can be their 'safe haven' in the midst of the insanity.
Fern Weis is a certified coach, NJ State certified teacher, and the mother of two wonderful young adults who have taught her more about herself than she could ever have imagined. For more resources to parent your teen without losing your mind, http://www.yourfamilymatterscoach.com.