One of the hardest aspects of having teenagers is their unwillingness to communicate, or share their thoughts and emotions. Feeling that we are out of the loop, or not privy to vital information, drives most of us parents nuts, but perhaps we need to take a step back and understand why our teens just don’t want to talk to us.
They Are Becoming Independent of Us
As parents, we don’t like this one bit. Many of us feel bereft when our once chatty child no longer wants to talk to us. However, it is normal for teens to want to pull away from their parents; they need to slowly separate from us, and become their own person, with individual feelings and views. It is also a time when teens often start to discuss things with peers, rather than parents, and we have to accept that it is perhaps time to take a back seat, whether we like it or not.
We Bore Them
Yep. As painful as it might be to accept, our teen’s silence may simply result from the fact that we have nothing interesting to say (or zilch they want to hear, anyway). It is unlikely our teen’s interests correspond with the things we enjoy doing, and, generally, during this stage of their lives you will have very little in common. We’ve all been teens, rolling our eyes at the archaic views of parents we considered prehistoric and clueless; well, here’s a news flash: your child probably feels the same way about you!
Way May Come Off as Too Pushy
It makes us feel better to know every intimate detail of our teen’s life, and because of this, we can sometimes become a little forceful, pumping them for information in an attempt to get them to open up to us. We mean well, but all this does is fail to give them the space they need and deserve.
Sometimes this persistence is down to genuine concern about what they are getting up to; the more silent they are, the more worried we become, and the harder we push. However, wanting to know our teen’s every move and emotional state has a lot more to do with how it makes us feel: not knowing what is going on in their lives can make us insecure, worried, and no longer in control. The simple fact is that we can’t force a teen to talk if they don’t want to, as much as it may pain us to realize.
Not me, I hear you cry. Well, actually, whether we want to believe it or not, many of us are coming across as judgmental. Most parents try incredibly hard to be supportive, wishing to offer a kind ear and a willingness to understand. However, the truth is that teens will do things that disappoint us, and their actions and behavior will worry us, and despite all the good intentions, this is difficult to disguise. Even a mere hint of judgment, a flicker of a condescending attitude, or simply not getting them, is enough to cause your teen to clam up.
The bottom line is that despite your kid’s tough exterior, giving off the vibe that they don’t care what you think, our teens still look to us for unconditional love and they want to please us. The last thing they want is to sense that you are disappointed or angry with them, and so they often choose to say nothing.
We Know It All
We really don’t, obviously, but that can be the message we send our kids. The problem is, although we don’t know it all, we are way more experienced and wiser than them, and this can come across as arrogance or condescension. Even if we partake our wisdom in a humble manner, kids don’t want to hear it; there is something about being a teenager that makes you feel invincible or always right.
Additionally, many of us unconsciously stifle the opinions of teens, especially if they clash with what we believe; of course our experiences make us more clued-up, but as a result, we can sometimes disregard our teen’s feelings and viewpoints as irrelevant. Similarly, we don’t listen properly to what our teens say, often hearing what we want, and then offering an opinion about it, whether it is invited or not. So it’s no surprise really, if they choose not to share things with us, is it?
All well-meaning parents make mistakes; it’s part of the job description. Next time your child goes incommunicado, it might be worth considering whether you could be doing something a little differently!