Can Talk. Won't Talk.
As a parent, 'nothing' is the word I do not like hearing from my children when I know something is wrong. Saying that, I heard this word twice this week from my teenagers. Thankfully, they never tell me to leave them alone. As a matter of fact, they did end up discussing their issues later.
Like most parents, all I ever want to do is help them to resolve whatever issues they are facing at that particular moment. In an ideal world, I'm Superwoman and I will come to their rescue all day, every day. In reality, they need space to think and develop on their own. Also, I do understand that people, especially teenagers, may occasionally not feel like talking. Ok, for some parents or carers, my previous sentence may be an understatement and you perhaps feel that they ‘never’ talk to you. So what do you do if your teen or young adult very rarely approaches you to talk or rebuffs your approach? Well, here are a few tips collated from research and experience:
Ask them why they do not want to talk. (That's assuming they haven't already told you.) Teenage years are emotional years and sometimes, they may not know how to express their emotions or rationale. Asking them is a way to begin to get them to process their thoughts. DEAR PARENT: A word of caution - you may not like their response.
Be consistent in telling them you are available, but don't keep pushing to the point where you get on their nerves
Be open and listen
Use humour to relieve any tension
Find common ground where you both feel comfortable
Spend more time with your child
Find an activity to do together, take them to school, watch a movie... Time is one of the things our children value and if they feel you are too busy, they will 'clam up' and/or turn to people who are available for them.
Check your emotions and give considered responses. Responding out of anger, stress or even tiredness will often be unhelpful to your child as well as to yourself.
Seek help sooner, rather than later if you feel you are treading water. It is always helpful to have a good mentor – even if there are no issues. Family members, friends, advisors, counsellors, religious leaders etc can also be beneficial.
Most of us would probably prefer a complete manual on raising children, which covers every eventuality... perhaps delivered after the placenta. However in absence of one, our good parental skills, mixed with some of the above tips, sprinkled with wisdom from above, will help us raise our sons and daughters well so that they will become good, loving and successful men and women.
Please feel free to share your own tips or experiences. You can also inbox JUT on facebook or contact me via our contact page if you need information, youth mentoring or advice.