As an advisor for parents, I have a lot of experience with teenagers. I also have a lot of experience with parents who don’t know the first thing about talking to teenagers.
Teenagers are looking for independence and thus want to spend less time with their parents. This is very normal and healthy for your teenager, but for you it’s very easy to take it personally. The one thing parents are most frustrated about is the lack of communication and not knowing what’s going on in their lives.
The most common mistake parents make when talking to teenagers, is that they don’t know how to talk. They ask questions like “Did you have a good time?” or “Did the test go well?”. These are questions that can be answered with just one word and it doesn’t give you much to work with. Avoid questions like this and instead ask “What did you enjoy there?”. You might get a response like “they had good music”. You could than follow up with asking what kind of music it was etc. This is a very simple, but effective way of talking to teenagers.
Another mistake parents often make when talking to teenagers, is not knowing the difference between asking for advice and getting something of their chest. Often your teenager just wants to get something off their chest or air their views. Jumping in with advice can be frustrating to your teen, since they often want to exercise their ability to solve their own problems. Unless they are clearly asking for advice, don’t give them any.
Also, I personally believe that it’s wrong to criticise your teenager’s way of expressing themselves. If they want to be a goth, so be it. It’s important to let them figure out their own style and personality. Of course, you can always set up some ground rules. If you don’t want your child to get his nose pierced, don’t allow him/her to.
If you’re dealing with a teenager who doesn’t want to communicate, I’m sure you’ll find these strategies on talking to teenagers very useful. Remember that talking to teenagers is never easy for both you and your teen, so don’t try to push him/her into talking.
Chris Donker has written an E-Book on talking to teenagers. Get the complete E-Book for absolutely FREE on onlineparentalguidance.com