Posted , updated Feb 09, 2006.
Your child probably cares a great deal about what you think. You play an important role in shaping your teenager’s behavior. Teens who say their parents warned them about drug use and set clear rules are less likely to use drugs. Parents’ and teenagers’ morals, future aspirations, and self-control are typically quite similar. Talking encourages family togetherness and increases the likelihood teens will share parents’ values.
Generally, teenagers are interested in the following conversations:
Family issues Teens want to participate in decisions and be told about family problems.
Controversial issues Teens have questions like “What does sex feel like?” or “What does it mean to get high?”
Emotional concerns Teens want to know how you really feel about things.
The big whys Teens begin to have philosophical questions about issues like war and religion.
The future Teens are curious and concerned about what they can expect from the future.
Current events Teens have questions about what is going on in the world and in their community.
Personal interests Teens really want you to show interest in their activities, music, sports, and friends.Parents’ lives Teens are curious about what things were like when you were their age, including emotions you had and mistakes you made.
All she wants to do is go out with her friends and spend time alone in her room. How can I talk with my teen?
Your messages to your teen may not be as clear as you think. To make sure you and your child are having the same conversation, communication should be interactive.
Ask your teen what she wants to talk about. Teenagers often feel their parents aren’t listening and dominate conversations. Many parents believe they are talking to their kids about drugs; unfortunately, the majority of kids don’t remember these conversations. Parents need to be ready to talk when teens are, and not just when it is convenient for them.
Research shows only about 1 in 15 families have serious conflict that is harmful to the parent-teenager relationship. Typically, parents and teenagers argue over chores, curfew, and school—issues that are really not that important. Parents need to choose their battles and decide what is worth fighting about. What would really happen if your child didn’t make his bed one morning? Wouldn’t your energy be better directed towards issues like sex, drugs, or alcohol?
Your goal as a parent should be to solve conflict in a positive way. Teens are more agreeable when they think you are considering their needs and when they are part of the resolution process. Here are some tips for good problem solving:
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Adapted from University of Illinois Extension fact sheets written by the author.
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