In a world of I-Phones, I-Pods and video games, do you ever feel as though communication with your teen is impossible? Do you feel out of the loop every time you attempt to embark on a simple conversation? The walls of separation are rising at an increasing rapid rate and the relationship with your teen is deteriorating before you, right? Fortunately, there are ways to rebuild communication with respect for both you and your teen. According to Steinberg (2003), "the do-it-because-I-said-so approach doesn't work anymore." Therefore, communication must be built in an atmosphere comfortable for your teen and yourself.
First, implement family dinners as often as possible. In today's family environment all members have over packed schedules, but it is crucial to sit down together as much as possible. Family dinners bring ease to conversations because everyone is sharing information over a delightful meal. The dinners should take place at least three to four times per week. Even difficult topics, such as, drugs, sexuality, and spirituality can be embarked upon at the dinner table. In previous years, families who spent time together at the conclusion of each day formed strong foundations with their children, so this simple entity can help bridge communication. Joseph Califano, Jr. (2006) states, "one of the simplest and most effective ways for parents to be engaged in their tens lives is by having frequent family dinners." http://www.webmd.com/parenting/talktoyourteen-3/talkingtips
Next, find time once per month to have one-on-one time with your teen. The activity may be dinner, a walk in the park, or a sporting event. This intimate time together encourages intimacy and confidentiality with your teen. During this time begin conversations with open-ended questions, alleviating the yes or no answers. Examples of open-ended questions are, "What are your plans to balance your academics and extracurricular activities," or "I see you and Jane Doe are getting close, what qualities are appealing in her to you?" These types of starters send your teen a signal that their opinion is important. Solutions to problems may be approached together for solving instead of a dictatorship approach. Remember that the Merriam-Webster dictionary (2010) defines communication as the exchange of information between individuals. As a result, a successful conversation includes listening.
Finally, together with your teen find an activity that the two of you can do together. A common interest is an excellent way to promote positive communication. Take an art class or dance lessons and these interests may result in the diving board for a healthy dialogue for you and your teenager. Though you are the parent, building a bond is crucial for an overall positive relationship. Many cities offer workshops for parents; in the Valencia are the workshop entitled, "Navigating the Adolescent World:An Interactive Parent Workshop," is being presented by the city of Santa-Clarita in correlation with College of the Canyons on February 23rd. http://www.santa-clarita.com Or How to Talk So Teens Will Listen& Listen So Teens Will Talk, by Adele Farber and Staying Connected to Your Teenager:How to Keep Them Talking to You, by Michael Riera are excellent tools to help bridge that gap of communication. Remember communication is the key to every healthy relationship; especially with you teenager.