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Is Anybody Out There Listening?

Parents, take time to listen to your teen, you have the biggest influence on them. If you don't hear the words they say and the subtle messages of what they wish they could say, you might not have any influence at all.

Young people seem to know so much more

than we give them credit for.

A few suggestions parents:

  • Teach your teen that it's okay to discuss and disagree. Teens need to know that it is absolutely okay to discuss thoughts, situations, and problems, as well as to disagree with your thoughts and solutions when they need to get something off their chests. When you are watching the sports channel or thinking about work or focused on other responsibilities, your son or daughter can't get through. Let your teen feel free to discuss their feelings and their problems, their joys and frustrations. Most of the time, they don't know they can disagree and actually say, "Why are you not listening? Why do you do it this way? I think it should be done another way." By doing this you have given them the experience of disagreeing tactfully, if you discuss without shouting or getting angry and keep your emotions under control. When the time comes for them to disagree with their mates or about something they do not believe in on the job, they will draw upon this experience.

  • Don't criticize and compliment in the same sentence. If you tell your teen, "I'm proud of you, you did a great job on the lawn, but you left your room a mess," all he will hear is the part of the sentence after but.

  • Show unconditional love in your comments. Don't make your love seem to be based on your teens' actions. If they've gone the extra mile for someone, try to say something like, "That must make you feel good inside," instead of "You make me proud when..," because that phrase is unconditional. Don't let them fall into the trap of only having motivation when someone builds them up or pats them on the back.

  • Why not try using a new way to tell your kids you love them and want to talk. Let them know you're in this thing together. Speak honestly to your son or daughter and let them know you have imperfections, that you are not perfect, but want some help in talking things out.

  • Look at this season of your life more positively, and an opportunity to hear what your teenager is really trying to say to you. Sometimes they just need to vent and express their feelings without you responding and trying to fix them. Encourage them to figure things out on their own first and let them know you believe in them and that you are confident that they can work out a solution.

These are just a few nuggets that I have learned over the years, not from doing everything right, but by making mistakes along the way. Don't be too hard on yourself as parents. Give yourself some room to grow and be willing to forgive yourself and your teenager along the way.

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