The Secret to Connecting with Teenagers

Shhhhh…don’t tell your children…

20130128-132732.jpg

…but we have their number!

I’ve talked a lot about “connecting” with our children, and I for one see it as EXTREMELY important. But sometimes, I think, we get lost in the process, and we can’t see the forest for the trees.

How can I truly develop better relationships with my children? What about teenagers? Yikes! (Now that’s a scary time!)

 

Well, I’m going to let you in on a secret, but you’ve got to promise not to tell the kids. (And Kathy, if you’re reading this, hold your ears!) I’ve found a wonderful tool to help foster good relationships with my children…but it’s not what you think.

Want to have a better relationship with your young person? Don’t ask them questions! Yes, you heard me right…DON’T ask questions!

Why? Because any teenager that has a brain is going to shy away from opening his mouth and getting into some sort of trouble, and we parents are masters of the “what-are-you-doing-and-why-are-you-doing-it” conversation (which is often quite one-sided!)

Here’s how one of those “conversations” goes:

Justin walks in the door from school, slinging his backpack into a nearby chair. “So, how was school?” Mom asks.

“Fine,” he mumbles, as he heads toward his room.

“Did anything interesting happen today?” she calls out to him.

He answers with the classic grunt, and the “conversation” is over. Mom wonders, How am I ever going to get him to open up? and he’s thinking, I wish she would just leave me alone!

How can we get over this hump? Don’t ask questions. Let’s replay the last scene, changing it around a little.

Justin walks in the door, slinging his backpack into a nearby chair. “Hey, Justin!” Mom tells him. “It’s great to see you! You’d never believe this new website I found today.” Justin stops to listen. “Once you get a minute, I’ll show it to you. It’s a framish-design website, and it’s got some incredibly cool features.”

At this point, Justin smiles and replies, “Oh, wow, Mom. Framishes? I was thinking about how to make a framish earlier today! Thanks, Mom. As soon as I get into better clothes, I’ll be right there.”
In about 10 minutes – or less, if Justin is really excited about framishes – mother and son are looking together at the framish-building website, having a good old time!

See how this works? As you talk about daily things that are exciting to you and to him, you will develop a connection over time, and eventually he will be comfortable around you, and you will develop a strong relationship.

20130128-133440.jpg

I had the same trouble with each one of my children once they began the teen years, and the only way I surmounted the trouble of them closing up was to work hard at drawing them close to me. I confessed my fears (not deep down fears, but more like fears of certain bugs, snakes or cooties,) shared my heart (“I’m just sad because I haven’t heard from your brother in awhile,”) and told them silly things (“Did you know that when I was your age I beat up my brother just for fun?”) They laughed at me, and began telling me their fears, shared their hearts, and told me silly things.

What a hoot!

Remember…it all starts with what NOT to do. DON’T ask questions!

Share your heart, and they will share theirs.

Linking up with The Alabaster Jar, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, Titus Two Tuesdays, and Mercy Ink Blog.