A common complaint among parents is that their children stop talking to them during adolescence. This may occur because your child is struggling to become independent. Teens will want and need more privacy than they did as small children. Your teen may also be silent because “the wires of communication in your family are somehow crossed,” note Laurence Steinberg and Ann Levine, authors of You and Your Adolescent. To get your teenager to open up and talk to you, those wires will need to be uncrossed. Although it will take some time, simply modifying the way you talk to teens will change the way they talk to you.
- The things you say: The things you say and how you say them may determine whether or not your teen talks to you. Steinberg and Levine offer the following example.
Your adolescent comes home from school looking blue. How do you respond? Are you critical, saying, “What did you do this time?” Do you offer empty reassurances such as, “This time next week you won’t even remember today”? Are you too quick to give advice like “Moping around won’t help, why don’t you go for a bike ride”?
All of these responses will close the door to communication. They make it sound as if you think you have all the answers without knowing the questions. In general, a teenager thinks that his parents don’t understand what his life is like, and responses like the above will solidify that belief.