Families are happier when Parents Listen
Families are happier when parents learn to listen to their teens. Parents will be amazed at how much they can learn from their teens by simply learning how to communicate with them. Parents are great listeners. Have you noticed how they are so in tune with their babies and know exactly what the baby needs depending on the baby’s cry? Lots of parents bring their babies in to see the doctor because they know that there is something wrong, just by observing the baby’s cues. What happens when our children grow up? How can we maintain that connection without be overly intrusive.
1. Learn your child’s means of communication
From as early as infancy, children have their own individual personalities. Some babies are very laid back, some very headstrong and others are a little more needy. Every one of these is normal. Communication is the same with our teens. Some teens are very open and chat away with you. Others are more reserved and still others communicate through non-verbal cues. To make it even more exciting, children change as they grow older. They often change how they communicate with you and even how they show and receive love. Instead of us throwing our hands up in the air and complaining about how our children have changed, it behooves us to take the time to learn what works for them. We want to keep the channels of communication open especially in the teenage years when there are so many other voices that our teens maybe listening to. Take the time and effort to learn your child’s means of communication. The rewards are great for both you and your teen.
2. Parent’s model behavior for their teens
We are our children’s first role models. The behavior that we model for them has far reaching consequences. They sometimes learn how to communicate from how we communicate with them and with each other. It amazes me when parents who are rude to everyone they come in contact with, get offended when their teens are rude to them. Guess where they learned that from. It’s not only what we say, it’s how we say it, and how we behave. Children learn a lot by observing our behavior. They learn to communicate with their friends and significant others by observing how their parents communicate. The interesting thing is there are times when children actually correct their parents when they think they have crossed the line. It’s certainly true for me, when I’ve been impatient or inappropriate without realizing it. I often heard, “mom, that was inappropriate,” or “you overreacted.” I’ve learned to listen and learn because as you know parents are not perfect. We can learn a lot from our children if we take the time to listen to them.
3. Embrace technology
When our children were younger, a lot of parents put notes in their lunch boxes when they packed them lunch. This often made their day. Children looked forward to that as much as they did to the actual lunch. As teens grow older, the note thing just does not seem to work any longer. I’ve learned so much from my parents over the years about other means of communication. In this era of technology, parents have learned to use snapchat and texting to communicate with their teens. Look at facebook and on any given day, there is a parent wishing a child happy birthday or congratulating them for some achievement or other. It works the other way too. Teens come on and express their love to their parents, for the whole world to see. Yes, they may not sit in your lap anymore but they still love you and often times want to communicate that love. You just have to be open to receive it.
4. Recognize your teen’s strengths and encourage them to use their skill sets.
Families are so competitive these days that everyone wants their child to be the star football player or basketball player. Parents need to listen to their teens and encourage them to use their skill sets and strengths to become the best they can be. Yes, you may have been a great athlete but your child may have inherited the other parent’s genes for playing the guitar or piano. We should not allow these differences to become a bone of contention. We have to recognize and accept who our teens are, encourage development of their own skill sets, and help them excel in their own space. I once had a teen whose mom wanted her to play basketball to get a scholarship for college. Great idea, but the child had other plans and preferred volleyball. This child came in limping one day during the basketball season, allegedly from an injury. The exam appeared normal but since the child appeared to be in pain, she was given a week off sports. On the way out, we noticed she was limping on the wrong leg. We were all saddened. Obviously, mom was not listening to the child and this teen was resorting to other means to avoid playing a game she was not interested in. I’m not encouraging us to just let our teens sit and not participate in any activity. Every person has a unique skill and talent. Parents who listen to and encourage their teens to do their best in their own skill set discover that they have a gem and these teens often go on to excel in whatever their chosen activity is.
Parents often dread the teen years. They see it as a period where they are often arguing with their teens or just not communicating well with them. Some parents almost expect the difficult teen years as a rite of passage. It really does not have to be so. Make the effort to learn your teen’s method of communication. Use technology to your advantage. Model good behaviors for your teen to learn. Recognize your teen’s unique talents and abilities and encourage their development. Parents who learn to listen to their teens enjoy the teen years and actually develop a greater bond with them, making for happier parents and successful teens.