Sue Scheff: Getting Your Teen to Talk

Depending upon your relationship, getting your teen to talk to you could be an agonizing or enjoyable exchange. If your teen is not communicative or willing to discuss issues, then it is up to you to find ways to get your teen to open up. How? Here are some suggestions.Oftentimes, teens are afraid to discuss a problem head on. Therefore, living in a home that is filled with love and understanding is crucial. While one teen may find it easier to talk to Mom and another feels more comfortable talking with Dad, the conditions in the home are critical to the teen being able to talk about anything at anytime. This process begins at birth. Having conversations with each other is one way to instill a sense of openness in the home. Moms and dads who constantly talk to each other and their children, whether at the dinner table or during bedtime, allow the child to feel good about discussing any topic with one or both parents. Consequently, your child will grow up in an atmosphere where freedom of expression is not only expected but encouraged.

Teenagers come with their own set of problems and issues. It’s the natural course of events for teens. This does not mean, however, they must sit in their rooms contemplating situations which they are neither ready for, nor can handle. Keeping the lines of communication open may be difficult at times, especially if all you get out of your teenager is a grunt of acknowledgement. Don’t give up, no matter how difficult the situation becomes. Whether your teen will admit it or not, having you there allows them to feel safe and secure, even though they don’t show it.

You can be assured, however, when the time is right and when the teen feels there are no other options available, he or she will open up. This is the point at which you should listen carefully to what is being offered. While your teen may not be asking your advice, the ability to be able to say what is on his or her mind may be enough to get out of the funk he or she is in.

However, if you feel your teen has become so distant that nothing seems to work, it may be time to seek help. In the meantime, without being invasive, keep an eye on your teen, ensure he or she is eating and sleeping, and communicating with friends. Every teen is different in how they approach life’s ups and downs. Think back to when you were a teen. Were you as open with your parents as you’d like your teen to be? If not, perhaps the inability to talk openly amongst family members began then.

As parents, we have a lot to deal with in our own lives. Sometimes even we shut down due to the pressure. Getting your teen to talk to you may be just as hard as getting your spouse to talk to you. It is in talking that we let out our innermost thoughts and feelings. Perhaps by learning how to talk to each other, you will instill confidence in your teen to follow your lead.