Parenting Your Teen: 4 Reasons You’re Having Trouble Talking to Your Teen

father making teenage son do homework
Posted by Steven Cessario on January 20, 2015

If only you could read your teenagers mind! You might finally find out what goes on in that head of his? Would you finally know what to say? Maybe. Or maybe you would discover things you would never want to know.

A lot of parents say, "My teenager won't listen to me!"

And your teenager on the other hand says, "My parents don’t listen to me!"

It can become quite the battle. Even if you do get along with your teen, he is still likely to want you to listen more, be less critical and be more open to his point of view. It may feel like nothing you do works.

So, the big question is what do you want to tell your teen or talk to him about?

Most parents want a friendly conversation to find out who their teen is, or maybe it’s about changing their behavior. But maybe any type of conversation seems impossible because it feels like you both live in different worlds.

So the challenge is actually starting the conversation. Many parents have questions that start with, "What do I say when...?"

For example when your teenager takes forever in the bathroom making sure his shirt is neat and hair is just right, but you need to use the bathroom to get ready for work too.

You might be thinking, "How could I have raised such an inconsiderate kid? So disrespectful! Ugh"!

"So what do you do? What do you say?"

Break the door down? Maybe, but probably not the best idea.

He finally comes out of the bathroom and what does he do? Gives you the silent treatment. You end up late for work and completely overwhelmed, wondering, "How do I deal with this?” "How do I make it better?"

Below are some ideas that might help you to finally get the friendly conversation you’ve been wishing for.

1. Pushing or forcing your teen to do something will cause more resistance.

Pushing your teen to do something he doesn’t want to do will likely create a lot of bitterness between you and your son. It might even create more "bad behavior".

Can you remember the time someone made you do something you didn't want to do? There is a good chance you resisted in some way or became irritated.

If your goal is to motivate your teenager to do something like clean his room or to do general things to help around the house, there are better ways.

Keep in mind your challenge is to get the desired behavior started, not to force them to think a certain way. When behavior changes, mind changes.

Quick action tips:

  1. Keep the relationship between you and your son a genuine partnership.
  2. Show value. What’s in it for your teen? Money, an experience, opportunity.

2. Screaming might be the only way your teen knows how to communicate.

If your teen is shutting down or screaming, there is a very good chance your son doesn’t know what is causing him to freak out.

Your teen might be thinking, "My parents have no clue who I am or what I want. They don’t want to hear my side, so what’s the point of talking?"

Shutting down or throwing a tantrum are both ways your teenager attempts to manage stress, express emotions and defend himself. But, he needs to learn how to effectively communicate his feelings without screaming. How?

Quick action tips:

  1. Look them in the eye.
  2. Set boundaries. Say, "I think we've been screaming too much and it doesn't work. We need to work on that. If you start yelling I'm going to walk away and not talk to you for 10 minutes.”
  3. Set the example. If you don’t want screaming, don’t scream. Be patient and accepting.

3. The "Do it because I said so" approach doesn't work.

Or, maybe you say, "Wait until your father gets home!"

The point is any type of threat or bullying doesn't work. You'll push your teen away and any type of sincere relationship goes out the window.

This might be one of the main reasons your teen refuses to cooperate or talk to you because he feels threatened, talked down or controlled. "Do it because I said so" is a bad example of communication.

Think of it this way, how would you feel if you’re significant other demanded you to cook a meal right after you walked in from a long day of work. Wouldn't feel so good? There would be a good chance you'd give them the finger.

Think about changing your parent style.

Quick action tips:

  1. Stop using statements such as "Do it because I said so".
  2. Read about the authoritative parent style.

4. A big communication barrier is how parents and teenagers see issues.

If you've gone into your son's room there's a good chance you see a mess of clothes and posters. But to him he thinks it's a sanctuary, organized and in order.

Let's be honest, the perspective of your teen is sometimes completely different from your own. That's fine. You want your son to create his own identity and have his own opinion.

When you get down to the main issue, it's really about your teen wanting to feel understood.

Listen to your teenager. Sincerely listen to what your teen is thinking, feeling or wanting. But also remember not to be afraid to express your own views or share your feelings and concerns. It's a mutually beneficial relationship.

Once you accept your teens' points of view, emotions, and all around craziness, communication will get better.

Quick action tips:

  1. Respect your teen.
  2. Listen without thinking about what you're going to say next.

Communication with your teen is very important if you want to create an honest and open relationship. Continue learning about yourself, parenting and loving your teen unconditionally. Try out the tips suggested and take action!

Summary of actionable tips:

  1. Keep the relationship between you and your son a genuine partnership.
  2. Show value. What’s in it for your teen? Money, an experience, opportunity.
  3. Look them in the eye.
  4. Set boundaries. For example, say, I think we've been screaming too much and it doesn't work. We need to work on that. If you start yelling I'm going to walk away and not talk to you for 10 minutes.”
  5. Set the example. If you don’t want screaming, don’t scream. Be patient and accepting.
  6. Stop using statements such as "Do it because I said so".
  7. Read about the authoritative parent style.
  8. Respect your teen.
  9. Listen without thinking about what you're going to say next.

Author of this article is Steven Cessario, the founder of Teenagesons.com. He has been a part of various radio and TV shows, acting as a progressive voice on the subject of mentoring and parenting teenage boys. Steven also regularly contributes to Divorcedmoms.com and has written for other blogs such as The Good Men Project.



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