February 6, 2016
Just fair warning, this will take time. And it will seem awkward at first, if you’ve never done it. But give it a try. Dive in head first. Take courage. Talking to your kids is hard!
Not coming down on them, or pushing YOUR opinion on them while you do it is even harder.
Fear not! You can do it!
Relationships take time. Your time is valuable, and so is your teen’s. Slow down, talk with them. Consider it an investment in each other.
Soon the eye rolling will diminish, the back talk will decrease, and the cholesterol filled communication pathways will begin to open up. For your teen to listen to you, you must listen to them first!
So, here are some great questions to get you started.
1. If time travel existed, what’s one thing you would go back and do differently? 2. What’s your favorite, the best app to connect with people, and why? 3. If YOU were the (math, science, band, history, pick your poison here) teacher how would you run your class differently? 4. When’s the last time you got super excited? What happened next? 5. In your opinion, what’s one thing EVERYONE should do to make the world a better place? 6. What’s the most important characteristic of a school principal? 7. What’s the hardest sport and why? 8. What is something they shouldn’t be allowed to show in movies? 9. If you if you and your best friend had unlimited money, and could do anything you wanted next Saturday, what would it be? 10. Which superpower would you wish on your mom and/or dad? 11. Without describing their looks, describe the perfect husband/wife. Or describe the perfect parent.
The key here is to truly listen. Ask a question that you don’t care what the answer is. No judgments allowed. And, no, this is not an excuse for you to answer your own question. It’s all about them right now. It’s an exercise in listening well. If you want your kids to listen to you, first you must listen to them.
So, slow it down, take all the time it takes. Give them a moment to form their own opinion. Then, respect that opinion. No matter how silly or wrong it may seem to you. It’s not yours it’s theirs. Theres to own, theirs to get right, and theirs to get wrong.
12. One last bonus question for you to use! Tell me more. This is one of my favorite phrases! Attach it to the end of any question you want! After they’ve responded, then ask it again. :) And again. :) And again.
Good luck. Happy conversing.
-Jake Tracy, MA, LLPC, Real Life Counseling