Teens are different from younger kids in lots of ways. They may not be adults yet, but they aren’t little kids anymore. If you talk to them as if they are, you’ll push them away.
They need your guidance, but they’re experimenting with independence and new feelings. Because they’re young and naive, they make mistakes.
This can be frustrating for parents, causing them to react emotionally. Blame. Shame. Criticism. Ridicule. Put-downs. Sarcasm. Lectures. Sermons. Control. Punishment. Orders. Threats. Bribes. These are classic ways parents react while they still have the power.
The problem is, reacting to teens this way has horrible side effects.
You have an ace card. As long as you hold it, you can play it. It’s this: from day one, your kids have needed the Love and Support that only a parent can provide. Teens may not know it, but they’re still desperate for this.
When you give them Love and Support, it draws them closer to you.
But teens need more than this. They also need Understanding and Respect.
It’s hard being a teen. They have a lot of things to figure out. They know they aren’t complete yet. They aren’t adults. They lack wisdom and maturity, and they know it. When you say things that show a lack of Understanding of their situation and their needs, it’s frustrating.
And when you communicate in ways that express a lack of Respect, it attacks their self-esteem. For someone who is struggling to be worthy, this is incredibly painful.
So when you talk to them in ways that show a lack of Understanding and Respect, it makes them want to distance themselves from you. “You just don’t get it,” they think.
If you hurt them with your words often enough, they’ll decide your love and support isn’t worth it. You’ll lose your ace card. After that, it becomes a game of tolerating you in order to get things they want.
Communicating with teens is a whole new ballgame. The challenge is to interact with them using skills that practically no adult alive today was ever schooled in. In my opinion, this is the main reason that most parent-teen relationships suffer.
You may want to listen to this podcast.
Or you may want to read this article.
It’s not going to be easy, but once your kids reach puberty, you’ll probably need to change the way you talk to them.