Monday, April 25, 2016

How To Talk With Your Teen – Who Won't Talk With You

Ah, teenagers! You've got to love them, or else you'll kill them. My mild-mannered little boy who could chat up a storm hit puberty and his vocabulary began to dwindle, at least when it came to me. I get it. I'm his mother. I'm “annoying.” And as puberty has progressed, he's become a hot bed of embers, just waiting for something, or someone to inflame him.

Teens can be challenging to talk with!

So how can you talk to a teenager, whose hormones are raging and is under tremendous pressure from school, etc.?  It's not easy, and there's no guarantee you'll have a civil conversation, but here's what's working for me:

  1. Keep topics neutral. Talk about a movie or television show he likes, how his video games are going, if anything interesting happened at school today. Go on his school's website and discover what he's studying, then strike up a conversation about one of those topics.

  2. Take advantage of car time. At minimum, I drive my son to and from school. We talk about the weather, other drivers, interesting cars we see, houses we'd love to live in, the news, and, at night, what people might be doing in their houses. Yes, it's superficial, but it's conversation nonetheless.

  3. Invite them down for a snack and let them speak first. Your daughter might be more willing to talk if you're just sitting there reading or doing stuff in the kitchen. The point is to BE there just in case they need to talk. 

  4. Once they do start talking, don't interrupt.  Let them take control of the conversation. They're like butterflies; you don't want to scare them away.

  5. Just listen. Don't try to fix a problem unless asked. As parents, we want life to be easy for our kids and we offer unsolicited advice. Sometimes a kid just needs a sounding board. Lend an ear, not a tongue.

    Listen to your teen - let her do the talking.

When Junior was in the living room last night playing his clarinet, I complimented him on his playing. “Mom, I know you're just trying to be nice, but I find your comments ANNOYING. I know you like to hear me play. Leave it at that.” Message received. Lesson learned.  No offense taken.  

Tonight, as we drive to the Mall for something he needs, I'll surrender control of the stereo. He likes to plug his phone in and share his music with me. It's not my taste, but this is not about me. It's about him knowing that I'm there and being open to who he is. Hopefully, when the he wants to talk about the complicated stuff (girls, drinking, etc.), he'll remember that I'm here for him.

I know he needs me.  He knows he needs me.   All it takes is a little conversation – on teen terms.

Please note:  1)  I am not a health care professional.  I am a mother, trying to minimize the amount of therapy her kids will eventually need.  2)  The photos above are courtesy of  



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