Have you ever yearned to have a deeper relationship with your children? Do you feel that your relationship with your family members, and teens in particular has become a constant communication of telling them do’s and don’ts? I would have loved it if my mother would have been the least bit interested in what I was thinking and more importantly what I was feeling.
I had eleven siblings, my parents had little or no time to inquire about thoughts and feelings. Their primary interest was disciplining and providing for us. It would have been nice to be able to say to a listening parent, “I’m afraid”, or “I’m tired”. Today families are much smaller than mine was, yet too many teenagers are stuck with managing feelings by themselves. It has been trendy for many years to stuff feelings, deny feelings, and avoid feelings altogether. Our teenagers are following the trend very well.
Feelings make us human. They give us the capacity to be compassionate, and empathetic towards others. We hear so few stories about children doing acts of kindness, and all too many stories about children bullying, and physically attacking each other.
If we are going to have deeper more enriched relationships with teenagers, it won’t happen with long monologues about poor behavior. As parents, at some points, we must talk about what’s happening on the inside. We must be interested in their thoughts and feelings. This will signal to them that you genuinely care about them.
It’s difficult to have a nonjudgmental conversation with teens. Sometimes, we are more invested in our teen’s success, than we are in them as a person. They sense this and often go in the direct opposite direction that we desire them to go.
During the next conversation, ask about their feelings. Remember they will tell you “their” feelings; Hopefully they won’t tell you what you want to hear. If “their” feelings aren’t what you think they ought to be, it will be difficult to avoid steering them in the way that you want them to go.
It will be an awkward dance for a while, but keep at it soon sharing feelings and thoughts will be second nature in your relationship.