As the mother of two teenagers, no one has to tell me that it’s really hard to get teenagers to open up to you. There are plenty of reasons for that and plenty of solutions to that. Some parents will just accept it as a fact of life. You’ll be with your mom friends all the time and they’ll talk about how it’s great when the kids get older and they don’t want to have anything to do with you. They’ll say it in a self-deprecating tone that indicates that they want sympathy and reassurance, since they’re trying to cope with the fact that they feel disconnected from their children, and they’re worried about what’s happening with them.
I promise that there are ways of getting your teenagers to actually connect with you. One of the most important things that you can do for your teenager under those circumstances is to make him or her feel safe. Teenagers are trying to establish their own identities away from their parents. One of the defining characteristics of adolescence is the fact that it’s about trying to find one’s place in the world. Teenagers sometimes regard their parents as a threat in that regard. Parents do often try to mold their children into a particular image, and teens sometimes rebel about the image that their parents tried to set for them earlier in their lives.
As parents, we’re judgmental. We have a certain idea of how we want our teens to be, and we want to encourage them to develop in a particular direction. We also want to protect them from all the hardships that are out there, and we want them to avoid making some of the same mistakes that we made when we were that age. The thing is, some of those mistakes are normal and necessary for developing minds.
Teenagers are capable of making decisions that will haunt them throughout the rest of their lives. However, many of the poor decisions that they make at this stage of their lives really aren’t going to affect them forever. It is important for parents to learn the difference. Knowing the distinction between the normal mistakes that teenagers make and the tragic mistakes that some teenagers will make is crucial if parents are going to learn to trust their teens.
However, even if your teen is going down a very difficult road, it is important for them to know that they can trust you. You need to be able to show them that you are going to give a response that is proportionate to what actually happened. Your teen needs to feel that he or she is in a safe place during your dialogues with one another. Establishing that sort of bond is going to take time, but once you have that bond, it really will make all the difference in terms of your relationship with one another.