Do you have one-way conversations with your child? Does your child answer your well-meaning question with “I’m fine”, “I’m good”, “Don’t worry about it”? If they do, you aren’t alone. But from young people’s perspectives, parents’ questions can feel like interrogations, so they respond by shutting down or answering so vaguely that the questions stop.
How do we get beyond this dynamic? How much do parents really need to know about their children’s lives? Parents can believe that the more they know about their children, the more they can help their kids. But is that true?
Think about what your kid can learn from you or what your kid wants from you. Maybe they do want to talk. Maybe they want reassurance. Maybe they want advice. They probably won’t want advice.
When it comes to relationships and living your life in a social and emotional sense, young people rarely are looking for advice. It’s about support, not solutions.
“When I’m sharing a difficulty in my life and somebody just jumps in there with advice – my immediate reaction either verbally or in my head is some form of “Don’t you think? I know that already? Oh really? It’s about the support. It is about the relationship of connecting. It’s about energy and sort of providing a connected, but also a calm state. “
What happens when we’re stuck in an unproductive pattern in our communication with young people? What if we have come across as patronizing, lecturing, or alienating them?
We have to take responsibility for our actions that contributed to the problem. When we say how we’re going to be different, we have to mean it. We need to show that young person through time and through behavior, that this is real, that we are committed to making a change. That’s how we model accountability. Words are easy, people believe behavior.
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Further reading and Resources:
- We Know Our Teens Are Suffering But Do We Know How We Can Help?
- Acknowledging the Pain and Celebrating the Small Moments of Joy
- Six ways to help kids transition back to school after distance learning
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline #1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or 1-800-SUICIDE
- Crisis Text Line- Text NAMI to 741-741
- The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Youth) #1-866-488-7386