Having a healthy and trusting parent-child relationship during the teenage years is of utmost importance

The teenage stage

Having a healthy and trusting parent-child relationship during the teenage years is of utmost importance giving that at this stage teenagers are found to be dealing with a lot of confusion around them, and they are most likely to take hasty decisions based on their prevailing emotions instead of logic. Hence, effective communication with your teenager can help you both feel happier and more connected in your relationship, and more confident about having difficult conversations and resolving conflicts.

 

Teen-parent communication at an adolescent stage, if not well managed may result in incessant conflicts, as teenagers assume every attempt of closeness by the parent could result in parental influence.

Establishing open communication

However, the way parents relate to their teenagers in day-to-day life will make it easier – or harder – when trying to establish an open communication channel with them. Hence, the ability to connect with them when it really matters is often determined by the ability to connect with them on daily basis over passive, and unimportant discussions – that does not involve ‘big topical issues’ or sensitive matters.

 

As a parent, you must recognize that the desire of teenagers to keep you at arm’s length while at the same time bonding better with their peers is rather natural than a mischievous juvenile device. Therefore, your teenagers still need your guidance – only that you must have to be tactical (rather than being authoritative) to get across to them.

 

You must always watch out for the following signs that often cause communication problems between teens and parents – which are: bickering, nagging, and criticism. Parent often employs those (bickering, nagging, and criticism), especially when they find themselves in a ‘hard to avoid’ situations despite their lack of efficacy in achieving effective teen-parent communication.

 

Even when you are not on their side, you need to have the skill and the emotional resilience to go on offering help, despite the prevailing indifference and opposition.

Tips to enhance teen - parent communication

Although teenagers often behave in ways that make it difficult for us to give them what they need most – love and acceptance. Just know that you can’t change your teenager. As rightly posited by one of the online publications by Family Lives Organization: “You can only change what you do – and how you behave differently, which will most likely results in the other person matching you and altering their behaviour themselves”. (Family Lives, n.d.).

Look for opportunities to talk off-message

Parents should be interested in just passing the time with their teens to create a better room for bonding and enhance communications.

Share something of yourself

The best way to gain the trust and confidence of your teens is to share your story with them, letting them know the mistakes you made as a teen and what you could have done better.

Practice what you preach

Teenagers appreciate parents who model rather than preach. This could be an effective way to establishes better bonds with them.

Listen without judgement or criticism

Without showing empathy to your teenagers, you may be chasing them to get the wrong advice outside.

Appreciate them for their positive qualities

Teenagers often do things if the payoff is great, and the reason may come down to how their brains respond to rewards. A new study suggests that when teens receive or anticipate receiving money, their brains’ pleasure centre lights up more than it does in adults.

Why is effective communication important?

During adolescence, your teenager needs you more than ever, and the best way to gain their trust, confidence and dependency is by making sure that they are free to come to you at all times with all manner of issues, they may be dealing with – this is why effective communication cannot be overemphasized.


The following few points highlight the importance of communication during the adolescent age:


-Teenagers could be experiencing an identity moratorium and need all the support that there could be to maximize the period, else they become a victim of the prevailing societal decadence.


-As part of the transitioning period, teenagers may develop ideas, values and beliefs that are different to those of their parents as they bend towards achieving independence


-As teenagers start to separate from their parents, they develop a stronger relationships with their peers. Hence, effective communication is needed at this stage to separate the chaff from the grain.


-Overall, communication is important to correct, counsel, reform, and nurture adolescents to a point where you can trust them to make good decisions.

Elements of good teen - parent communication

The following can be a good sign indicating an effective communication link between parents and their adolescents:

 

-Openness: When your teenagers can tell you ‘absolutely’ anything, including about that boy or girl that they are crushing on – it then means that such parent has been able to conquer.


-Trust: Trust issues is one of the problem teenager’s encounter. As part of the process of maturing, adolescents begin to feel more autonomous and responsible for themselves and may go to the extreme of considering themselves as self-sufficient, and therefore stop feeling the need to share information with their parents, ask for certain permissions and approval – rather, they want to make decisions for themselves without consulting. Therefore, it takes effective communication to gain the trust of a teenager.


-Showing love and affection: Having your teenagers remember your special days like birthdays, anniversaries, etc could be a sign of good communication and a relaxed teenager.

About the author:

Joel is a seasoned teen minister/coach, and a parenting counselor with the vision to recover destinies and restore the path that leads to success in life. Joel enjoys working with teenagers, and has developed several teen mentoring and parenting program. As a professional, he has done a certificate program in teen counseling with Lead Impact University, USA.