Hey, folks. Katie here. Last year, my mom and I came to the realization that not all parents/children have the close relationship that my mom and I manage to have. Today, I realized that the post the two of us wrote last year on how to get your teenage child to talk to you was, well, fairly outdated. So, after much consideration, here is the updated list.
- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT ask how their day at school was.
This is uncomfortable on so many levels, especially if you aren’t particularly close with them at that moment. Asking how someone’s day at school was is like saying, “Hey! I’m your [Mom/Dad/Guardian]! I’m trying SO hard to talk to you! Ha ha! Talk to me! Hey! Kid! Talk to me! I SAID TALK TO ME! ABOUT ANYTHING! DESPERATION!” Asking how their day was at school will probably result in a “Fine.” Then your child will shut themselves in their room forever and turn on horrible teenager music.
(So maybe I exaggerated a bit. I’m a teenager. Don’t blame me.)
INSTEAD ask about specifics. Pay attention to them, and then when they get home, ask if the math test was hard. Ask how gross the school lunch was that day. Ask how their friends are, and refer to them by their names. It shows you actually care and pay attention to them, without making you look desperate to talk to them.
- Respect and accept them. Always.
If they’re going through a goth phase, tell them they look nice. When they’re playing absolutely horrible music that you cannot stand, don’t yell at them to turn it down. (If it’s really too loud, tell them politely.) And most of all, if they voice an opinion to you that you disagree with, DO NOT shut them down. Listen. Always listen to their opinion and tell them that you respect it. Even if you strongly disagree, don’t shut them down. (Unless of course, they say that they believe that smearing mayonnaise on their peers is always the answer. That’s just unsettling.)
- Don’t talk down to them.
Saying “You cutie” or “AWWWWWWWWW!” To your kids is just inappropriate and makes them feel less than you. Even if, frankly, they are because you are their parent/guardian, you should make them feel like an equal. My mom makes sure to talk to me like an actual human rather than a baby. Though I know she 100% CAN tell me what to do and is older and wiser than me, she doesn’t make me feel like that when we’re talking.
- Talk to them about their interests, and make them your interests, too.
I believe I talked about this one in the last post, but I feel the need to say it again. My mom took my love of Harry Potter (which I will not get into for fear of the post getting too long) and made it hers as well. She watched all of the movies with me, she went to see the play “Potted Potter” with me, which was hilarious, and she took me to Hogsmeade village in Orlando, Florida. She made a Pottermore account and was sorted into Hufflepuff. (I am a Gryffindor with a lot of Gryffindor pride.) She gave me Harry Potter merchandise for my past few birthdays and Christmases. That’s definitely brought us closer. Now, your teenager might not be into Harry Potter, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find an interest of theirs that you can share.
- Be there for them.
Show up. For every performance, sports game, achievement, loss. Always be there if you can.
- Don’t be mean.
This one goes without saying.
This list could go on for days, but I’m going to end it with one last tip.
- Tell them you love them.