The teen years are perhaps some of the most awkward and troubling times in a person’s life. It is a time when the youth feel oppressed by the adults and feel as though they are not understood by anyone. Though these feelings continue on throughout adulthood, they are never so strong and so pronounced as they are during the teen years. That is why, if you have a teenager, you might find that communicating with them is proving to be quite a difficult matter.
Teenagers may be vague in their responses, they might not want to talk to you at all, or they might get angry or irritated if you ask anything at all. At this stage, many teenagers are certain that you will not understand anything that is important to them, that you could never know what they are going through, and that any advice you give will be nothing but authoritative and not at all in their best interests. Many teenagers feel a sense of alienation from their parents because their lives are so different from their parents and you might feel this chasm grow between you two.
However, the most important thing to do is to try and communicate no matter what. Keep those lines of communication open because chances are, your teenager does want to talk to you, does want to be understood, but just does not know how to come forth or does not think it possible at all. There are perceptions already in place on both sides. Your teen will assume that you will not understand and they will already have a position that you will take all picked out.
For example, if your teenager is interested in a boy or girl or in having physical relationships or in doing drugs or trying out partying with alcohol or various other rebellious experiments, they will already be sure that your position will be against it and that you will do nothing but dissuade or forbid them. With that knowledge intact, they will not go to you about this at all and they will most likely try and hide it from you at all costs. Now this is very counterproductive because you will never get to talk to them about these important matters. Even if your position is exactly as they would assume, it does not mean that they do not need someone to talk to about it. That is why it is important to keep those lines open. That might mean you could casually mention that they could talk to you about anything they want to.
If your teenager finally chooses to open up about sensitive things, how you handle it the first time will really set the stage for all other times they ever decide to open up to you. Even if you feel shock and alarm and fear at what they say, you have to try to remain nonjudgmental and you need to make sure that you listen to them and hear them out. Do not immediately forbid them or lecture, but instead allow them to be heard. Nothing makes someone feel more respected than being heard and your teen will feel as though you are making an effort to understand. Once they notice you are making an effort, even if you do not agree, they will at least see that an effort was made to hear them out and they might come to talk to you about more things in the future.