A tale as old as time; adolescent "door slam" phase. Painful? Very much so. Irreparable? Not quite. The core issue of our children's adulting stage (as well as our own) is - forgetting. We forget. They forget - just how strong and unbreakable the bond between us is. Instead, we become insecure, closed-off, anxious, and untrusting. The adolescent phase becomes a game of squash, but instead of the ball, we use doubt and self-doubt as our defense and offense weapons. The game is ruthless, and there are no winners. As parents, we are responsible for creating the necessary conditions for much-needed communication. We may look at them and think: "I don't know them anymore. They're nothing like the child I raised." - and vice versa. But, the truth is: no. They are. It's just fear talking. That is how to approach a teen that isn't communicating.
Talking is difficult
Oh, the long-gone days, the simple days when there was nothing but easy laughter, tiny hands, and their insatiable and vast curiousness. Why? Why? Tell me. Why do the stars flicker? Why do we have five fingers? Where do watermelons come from? - good times. But, they don't last - and it's okay. Welcoming our children to adulthood is beautiful, but we should take it as a cue to step up our parenting game. They don't stay the same. Why should we be given the privilege? Following their growth is only fair. But talking is hard. Covering complex and vulnerable topics is an exceptionally unpleasant assignment - to say the least. We never get used to "I hate you" and "Leave me alone"; the words pierce our hearts like a cargo ship anchor. So, are we ready to approach a teen that isn’t communicating? It's the only way out.
Silence for two
Parents aren't the only ones hurting; their teenagers suffer in silence, too. Most children start "pulling away" from their parents around puberty, just as other social circles start to bloom. Puberty is a sensitive period in one's life, where all insecurities and questions about "the self" surface simultaneously. The blitzkrieg sensation for the one experiencing it should not be underestimated or questioned - turmoil is inevitable. Still, it's not all on them. If things aren't going well at home, they might perceive us as unavailable or even negligent in addressing their struggles, thus gravitating toward other sources of support and comfort. (peers, coaches, and professors) Shake up the status quo. Starting a conversation during a car ride can be a good icebreaker, as driving demands our "eyes on the road" instead of tête-à-tête uneasiness.
I'm all ears
Active listening is key to repairing communication with our children. And, yes, we get carried away easily. Auto-traps set us up for failure. Out of a sheer desire to help, teach, and guide them, we unintentionally, unconsciously turn into monologue beasts, chasing the overwhelmed cub away. The plan backfires. Rather than focusing on what to say, we should learn to focus on listening. Bite your tongue, if need be, but deliver solely the promised noninvasive space for their articulation. If we want to approach a teen that isn't communicating, we should ask open-ended questions with childlike curiosity. Many experience familial turbulence before moving house, as novelties invite new insecurities. But, there are ways: pros can make it stress-free. By hiring professional movers, we can focus on the thing that matter the most - our children.
Don't skimp on affirmation
Positive feedback is of paramount importance. By engaging in open communication channels, we gain insight into our child's thoughts and emotions and a deeper understanding of their inner processes. Step 1. Active listening. Step 2. Empathy. Step 3. Provide affirmation. By offering immediate praise and support, we help our children build self-esteem and healthy confidence levels and inspire and encourage the continuum of "open flow" communication. For example, if our child opens up about feeling anxious or sad (no matter how insignificant the cause), we should say, "You are so brave for telling me this. Sharing something so personal is hard. Thank you for trusting me."
Don't "Back in my day"
Mastering this one is tricky, as it requires deep reflection. Time capsule hour; let's go back to our childhood days. Simpler times, no? Indeed. We had it easy. No TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, FaceTime - nothing. Just the good old landline. Cyberbullying? Science fiction. It's fair to admit: we don't quite grasp the magnitude of their struggles. - And it's okay. Things are very different today, but the universal truth reminds us: the adult world is as new to them as it was to us - back in the day. Relocation specialists from Zapt Movers share: "A large percentage of our long-distance clients are families with teenagers." - Let's add that to the equation of today's uncertainty. They don't have it easy. The world is not as benevolent as we remember it to be. Our children yearn for stability and certainty - and providing that safe space should be our priority.
Leave judgment at the door
Playing it cool goes against parental instincts, especially when we disapprove of it. What do we do if we get our children to open up, and it's more than we bargained for? "My friends smoke weed." "I skipped school on Thursday." "I had unprotected sex." The automatic response would be MUTINY. OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! But we know better than that. That's not good parenting. By remaining empathetic, genuine, and open-minded, we achieve more. We're not letting anything slide. Instead, we're choosing to approach the topic with open-mindedness and assertiveness. (not hot-headedness!) Setting a clear set of rules, boundaries, and expectations is what parents do, but always remember: the way we deliver it is what makes it or breaks it at the end of the day—kindness and acceptance, above all things.
If you don't know how to approach a teen that isn't communicating, remember who they are to you. Love them. Unconditionally. Tell them you miss them. Show it. Be vulnerable. And they will reciprocate.
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