Teenagers…emotional, inarticulate and needy, may try to ask for something or make a statement. Maybe they want to buy something. Maybe they want to go somewhere. Maybe they’re having a problem. But parents are human, too, and not always in a good place themselves. Worried, rushed and tired, they may not think about the best way to respond. They may say the wrong thing in the wrong way at the wrong time.
To the parent, an interchange like this may seem like no big deal. Just another hectic moment in a day of dozens of hectic moments. It’s quickly discounted and forgotten as they move on to the next thing.
But to teenagers, not being heard, not being understood, and not being helped can be a monumental turning point. They could conclude: My parents just don’t get it. They don’t really care about me. Why do I even try to talk to them?
The gap widens, the bond weakens, and the bridge starts to crumble.
And the parents would have no idea that this is the impact they’re having. After a few years of this, the parent might look at a their growing child who is now alienated and aloof and ask, What happened?
What happened was the failure to exercise effective parent-child communication skills.
This was the topic of discussion between Meredith Bell and me recently, which we recorded for a Strong for Parenting podcast.