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Caleb opens the door and in one sweeping motion flops into the seat as the flings his anvil-weighted backpack to the second seat almost hitting his brother in the car seat. The mom is proud of herself because she doesn’t rip Caleb’s head off for almost crushing his brother but then she becomes frustrated with the normal ride-home conversation.
“How was your day?”
“What did you do at school?”
“The normal stuff.”
“Do you have any homework?
Same thing every day. Do you wish your teenager would talk to you more? Do you wish you knew more about their lives? Try out these suggestions.
- Learn to ask inquisitive questions.
So often parents ask accusatory questions instead of inquisitive questions. It is not only the question you ask, but also the tone of your question. Be genuinely curious about their lives. So often we ask questions in order to find out if they did anything wrong instead of asking with a real interest in their lives. Our kids are smart and they see our intent which makes them give us one-word answers to avoid getting in trouble and getting our disapproval.
- Learn to really listen.
James 1:19 says, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Some of the best parenting advice ever right there. No lectures, no opinions, no stories about yourself. Just listen to them. Make it be about them, not you and about learning about them instead of trying to get them to be different/do better.
- Let them make mistakes.
Do you remember being a teenager? Do you remember how you struggled with everything going on with school and your changing body and the opposite sex and success in extracurricular activities and what people thought of you and puberty and all the other stuff going on in your brain all the time? Your teenager is going through it too and just like you, they are going to make some dumb decisions sometimes. When we are ready to guide our kids through their mistakes instead of making them feel terrible about them, their mistakes become ways they learn and become more confident in themselves and more willing to talk to us about their mistakes.
Your teenager does want to talk to you. You just have to work hard at creating the environment to draw it out of them.