PLYMOUTH, Minn. — Are you the parent of an adolescent who answers your questions with a shrug and tries to spend every free hour behind closed doors texting with friends?
Are you sad or angry about the loss of the closeness you once felt with your son or daughter?
Experts say you are not alone. Keeping the lines of communication open with your teen can help him or her make a smooth and successful transition to adulthood.
Dr. Marti Erickson, local developmental psychologist and co-host of the weekly podcast Mom Enough, says the job of an adolescent is to "individuate" doesn’t always happen gracefully.
“Teens have an increasing need for privacy that often is at odds with their parents’ need to know what they are up to. Children do want their parents in their lives, but they want them available on their terms, when and where they want,” explains Dr. Erickson.
But that’s not always easy. Dr. Erickson says technology and our busy lives can also make it difficult to find time for communication on anyone’s terms.
She shares some important practical tips for parents.
CREATE SPACE & TIME FOR UNHURRIED CONVERSATION
Sitting down together over a favorite snack or riding side-by-side in the car support conversation.
Disconnecting from your own electronics and being available when your teen first comes in the door invites communication.
BE MINDFUL OF HOW YOU RESPOND WHEN YOUR CHILD CONFIDES
Listen more than you talk and hear the feelings behind your child’s words.
Don’t lecture or be dismissive. Honor the trust your child showed you by confiding.
DON'T INTERROGATE UNLESS YOU HAVE GOOD REASON TO SUSPECT DANGEROUS BEHAVIOR
IF YOU HAVE YOUNGER CHILDREN, START NOW TO BUILD THAT TRUST
It’s much easier to maintain effective communication than it is to build it from scratch if you haven’t established it early in your child’s life.