Monday, August 22, 2011

3 ways to get your teenager to talk to you

My baby starts high school this morning.  It's surreal.

I asked her what she wanted for breakfast today and while I usually don't cook her breakfast (we do easy things like cereal and fruit and granola bars) this morning IS the first day of school not to mention the first day of high school.  She wanted eggs over easy, bacon, toast and a smoothie.  So that's what she got.

My oldest is 21 now, middle child is 20, so they are both past the teen stage and both are still very much on speaking terms with us, in fact they love being with us and doing stuff as a family.  While the kids aren't perfect (and neither are we, by any stretch) our kids have always talked to us and seemed to want to be with us.  I kept my fingers crossed with the oldest two, hearing horror stories of kids running away and stuff like that, especially "rebellious PK's" but here we are still living together and very much hanging out as a family, doing life together, even ministering in the church together with no runaways or anything like that, knock on wood.  They all love the Lord and I'm certain they love each other, at least most of the time. :)

Today I thought I'd share 3 things to help in communication with teenagers, at least these things have helped me:

1)  Cook for them.  They'll spend more time with you and start talking.  Kids love to eat, especially good homemade stuff.  If I want my kids to talk to me, I just make up a chicken casserole or some tacos.  Suddenly there's a dialogue going.  In fact, they come to me, I don't even have to go to them.  They leave their room and come away from whatever was occupying them as soon as there's a smell wafting from the kitchen.  

2)  Don't make any topic off limits.  Have you ever said, "you can come to me about anything" with your kids?  Do you really mean it?  Quite honestly a lot of parents say that but many don't mean it.  Their kids work up the courage to ask them about things and then there are consequences.  Those consequences cause them to clam up and never tell their parents anything again.  Sometimes they are actually punished by what they reveal, or it results in them losing friends.  Or the parents will say, "I'm not sure you're old enough for us to talk about that yet."  It's our belief that if a child is old enough to think of a question or ask it, they are ready for an answer.  Larry and I have always told the kids they can share anything with us, without fear, and we will give them an  answer.  We also don't have secrets from each other in this house.  If they have a question, they get a straight answer and there's nothing we're worried about our kids finding out. 

3)  Talk when they want to.  Yeah, I know that's not easy at times.  They don't want to talk at convenient times, especially teens.  Mine come in at 1 am, plop down on my bed and start talking.  Jordan's famous for doing that on really non-sensical things like running in to show me a video on Youtube of some kid doing a drum cover.  "Look at this Mom, it's siiiiiick!" he exclaims.  I wake up and try to feign interest in this kid on his Iphone banging on the drums and screaming.  Screamo music.  Fun times.  My least favorite genre, but I resist telling him so.  I just go, "WOW, that is siiickk."  Dustin, on the other hand is well known for knocking on my door at 3 am and asking me something deep.  Stuff like, "Hey Mom, I need to ask you somethin'...Mom, are you awake?  Mom, what do you think about pre-destination?  Do you have any books on pre-destination?  Hey, do you care if I use your Kindle?"   I want to be a parent who keeps the lines of communication open and most times that means talking when they're ready.  Yesterday I was right in the middle of an edit on my proposal and one of my kids was like, "Hey Mom, I want to ask you..." and inside I was cringing like, "Oh, I was sooo in the rhythm there of writing my thoughts," but at the end of the day I'm not going to regret giving them my attention even if it is to show me how lame a video is that they found on Youtube.   

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