We were all teens at one time for some years ago even if we don’t like to admit it. Many of us can look back and say our teen years were good, but with many ups and downs as we approached adulthood. Some of us maybe were lucky enough to have parents we could talk to about anything with ease. Today’s teens deal with many of the same issues, but also deal with some very difficult issues that are more prevalent in today’s youth.
Your teen will need guidance and most likely seek advice. As parents, we need to help ensure that our teens will come to us with most of these issues. We need to create an atmosphere that will encourage our teens to turn to us. It can be quite a task to get your teen to open up and I found with my teenage boys they were a little reluctant to discuss personal issues. It’s quite normal for your teen to seem more distant as they work their way to adulthood. Many times they will seek advice from their peers, but don’t worry, this is normal for kids this age.
Peers play a big part in the teenage years and strong healthy relationships with their peers are important to them. More importantly, though, I believe they need to be able to relate and confide in their parents as much as possible. It’s likely this will not happen without some encouragement from the parents. Making ourselves available, showing we understand, and that they can talk openly with us without judgment plays a key factor in getting them to open up and feel comfortable doing so.
Some issues today’s teens face may be difficult or uncomfortable to discuss, but looking the other way will not help. If they can’t come to you they will seek advice or help elsewhere. Personally, I would much rather have my teen come to me regardless of the topic, rather than turn to another source who does not love and care for them the way I do. We as parents don’t want our teens turning to someone who may not have their best interests in mind.
The guidance and advice they receive during these wonderful, but yet difficult years can impact the choices they make in the future, therefore, the present time is crucial. While some decisions they may have to make will seem insignificant, some could affect the rest of their lives. Whether the importance is big or small they need to know they can turn to their parents for everything.
I have found with my teens, by offering stories or comparisons to when I was their age, is an effective way to get the conversation started. In a relaxed one on one situation, casually bringing things up opened the door to allow my boys to talk about a similar situation they may have experienced. Sometimes, they tend to refer to a friend that was going through something similar, which very well could be the case, but at the same time, I take it as a hint. If a close peer is going through it, most likely, they are too or will be.
By letting teens know through comparison, that when you were a teen, you too had similar issues and was once their age, will encourage them to open up. Will everything they want to talk about be a major dilemma? The answer is No. Will they suddenly spill their guts and divulge everything to you from this point on? Not likely because it takes time to establish that kind of trust. Yes, they have been your kids for many years and they trust you, but this is Trust taken to a whole new level.
The idea is to keep the lines of communication open, show them you care, that you understand and you are there for them. Build a strong level of trust with your teen and hopefully when the big issues come up, you may be the first to know.