Article Summary:Guidelines for talking to your teenager.
How can you keep your cool when discussing hot topics with your teenager?
1. Adolescence is a time great change. Children are developing physically, mentally
and sexually. They are striving towards independence, but yet still need and want
limits. All of this activity can cause teens to feel confused, alone or angry.
2. This can make living with a teenager challenging as well as frustrating. Your once
happy go lucky ten year old is now questioning your values and having mood swings.
How do you deal with this?
- Because teens are moving toward independence, they often will question family values. One thing to remember is that it is not a rejection of the family or a threat to parental authority, but just the normal testing adolescents do in order to internalize their own value system. As they become adults, their value system is usually very similar to that of their parents.
- They key then is allowing teens to voice their views and opinions without condemning what they think and feel. Remember, they may voice a lot!
- This involves reflective listening to discover what they are thinking and feeling and setting limits as to the acceptable way of stating views and opinions. Both parents and teens must respect each other's opinions as valid even if they don't agree with them. To be respected you must respect others. (Review some reflective listening
- It can be very hard to be respectful when teens say things that are nasty. Remember not to take things too personally and explain to them better ways to say it.
- It's OK to disagree, but continue to explain why you feel the way you do. It will give your child something to think about as well as help him/her decide what they really think of the issue.
- There are two categories of tough topics. The first are those issues that continually arise as areas of dispute. They frequently involve day-to-day activities such as curfew, dress or hanging at the mall, arcade, etc. Teens will bring these topics up and be very vocal about them using the ever-popular excuses, "But everybody wears clothes like these!" or "I'm the only one that has to be home by 10:30!"
- The second types of tough topics are those that parents usually have an underlying fear about and therefore may be hesitant to bring up. Topics such as sex, AIDS, drugs/alcohol and other risk taking behavior.
- The first kind involves listing those areas that are continually under question. Then go through the list and decide which are negotiable and which aren't and explain why to your teen. It is important to continually get your child's feedback. Listen to all the objections and why they think there is nothing wrong with their behavior and then work together to come up with solutions you can both agree with. Some items under discussion should be negotiable.
- The second kind involves more in-depth conversations over a period of time. These issues are more emotionally involved because they deal more with moral values and you child's safety. You most likely have taught your child what you think of these issues as she/he has grown up in your household. But as children become teenagers, it is important that you go into more specifics about what you believe and why. It also is important that you clear up any misconceptions they may have.
- Underlying all of these issues are some basic attributes or skills you want to be teaching your child. They include: positive self-esteem, self-reliance, confidence and assertiveness. Teach them how to say NO and feel comfortable with their decisions.
- It helps if this discussion is one that flows naturally from teens' questions about puberty.
- Don't assume there is an underlying agenda that isn't being addressed.
- It's OK to feel embarrassed about discussing sex. Admit that to the child. They probably feel the same way. Be honest with feelings and views about sex. Explain the reasons behind your views and values.
- It's OK if the parent doesn't know something that is asked. Both the parent and child can look it up together. Parents know more than they think and it is probably more accurate than what the child is hearing on the streets.
- Puberty is a strange time and children like to hear that parents went through some of the same insecurities. Relate parent's adolescents "horror" stories.
- AIDS can be discussed when you talk about some of the risks involve in having sex.
- Children hear a lot about the disease and need to know what is fact and what are rumors. Arm yourself with some of the facts. It may help you to feel more
comfortable when talking to your child.
- Stress that is the behavior that people engage in that increases their chance of exposure, not the type of person they are. Explain what behaviors are risky.
- Reinforce how other behaviors (drinking or drugs) may cloud decision-making skills. Explain how people may engage in behaviors they normally wouldn't after using drugs or alcohol.
A Voice For The Advancement Of Fatherhood Professional Speaker, Trainer, Author, Licensed Counselor and Consultant "America's DADvocate?" works with Dads who want to perform at their best with their children, and increase the odds of having a positive impact in their children's lives. Joe delivers educational, motivational and change inducing programs and keynotes. Programs also for: Youth, Moms, Communities, Schools, Churches, Organizations, Companies and Associations. Call #678-640-0000 or www.Americas Dadvocate.com