Table Talk Conversation: What do you feel is the one crucial ingredient for parenting teenagers? Your Family’s Table Talk “Talking Points” are in the Conclusion below.
When you talk to different parenting “Experts” and ask them what they feel is the most important ingredient for parenting teens, you’ll hear many different answers.
Here are just four of the best tips for parenting teenagers I often hear repeated:
- Set reasonable expectations: Expectations are always important to set in any relationship. When expectations are too high or too low, this is when problems can occur. Thus, it’s important to be reasonable but understood.
- Be a positive role model: Recently during our Wall Street Journal interview we went over this a lot. Parents need to lead by example and practice what we preach. Teenagers learn more by what we do, not what we say.
- Show unconditional love: One easy way to be a good parent to a teenager is showing your love consistently. This doesn’t mean you have to agree unconditionally, but that you let them know you love them, regardless of the mistakes or choices they make.
- Use enforceable statements: An enforceable statement is good for the Teenager brain. It states what we will allow, rather than what “to do”. This avoids conflict over “do it my way,” which teens hate, but also lets them know what’s acceptable. I love the following example: “I’ll listen when your voice is as calm as mine.” You see, you’re not demanding that they lower their voices, but setting a clear boundary that is “enforceable.”
The Best Ingredient for Parenting Teenagers
So you’re probably wondering now, well those all seem great, so what’s that one ingredient we need for parenting teenagers?
The best advice for parenting any teenager is to have meaningful conversations frequently with them, without prying, being nosey and/or judgemental.
Ready to hear something crazy?
Study after study shows most teens say they want to spend more time with their parents having conversations.
Yet according to the Child Mind Institute, parents share concerns that, as kids get older, they don’t want to have conversations as much.
Do you notice how silly this is? Kids say they want to talk more and parents say they have problems getting kids to talk more?
I know this might seem confusing, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered because regular conversation with our kids is proven to:
- Help kids perform better academically
- Reduce the likelihood that kids will engage in “risky” behavior
- Strengthen our relationship with them… and don’t we want to be the ones who have the biggest influence and impact on their future?
Why “Most” Teenagers Don’t Open Up to Parents
I’m sure, as a parent, you’d do anything for your child. You’d stand in front of a moving truck in a second for them. Your love is probably off the charts for them and your child knows this.
That is where the problem lies for most children. Kids want to be that high achiever and they don’t want to disappoint us as parents.
They, at times, can feel that by opening up, they’ll be disappointing us with what’s on their mind or that we just won’t understand where they’re coming from and that we’ll judge them.
Most parents say to their children, “We’re here for you to talk to.” But that isn’t how most “teens” feel when we begin to jump in with our opinions versus truly listening and having a conversation.
It’s hard, I know, but let’s share some ways to make this easier, so ultimately they come to us more frequently with what’s on their mind vs. only sharing it with their peers, coaches or teachers.
How To Make Talking with Your Teenager Easier
Here are nine quick tips to make conversations with teenagers easier and more frequent.
- First and foremost, make sure to follow The 5 Second Rule when your child does start a conversation with you. We wrote previously how to train your children with this habit and it’s advantages, but as a parent, it comes in handy also. When your child shares something with you, don’t spit out immediately your opinion or thoughts. If they’re opening up, let them talk and let them ask for your opinion or guidance.
- When they are talking, ask better questions to show you’re listening versus parenting. Depending on the topic, emotions can be high for you personally, but keep them in check and let your child talk (that is what we want).
- If you’re starting the conversation, make it around what they’re interested in today. This is why we created Table Talk here at Dinner Table MBA, to help make this easy for you. Asking the same boring questions day in and day out is a sure way to stop conversations from even starting.
- Don’t ask Close Ended questions that can get a yes / no response. For example when I’m driving home at night with my girls from cheerleading, instead of asking: “How was Cheer” (which can be answered “good”) I instead ask: “What 3 things happened during practice tonight that were exciting?” It starts the conversation off positive and then we sometimes dive deeper into “drama.”
- Try mixing up the environment for the conversation. Though we’re big fans of having great conversations frequently around the Dinner Table, eye to eye contact can make conversation difficult at times. Sometimes a walk or that car ride conversation next to one another can make things easier.
- Be patient if you don’t get the initial discussion brewing that you were hoping for. Sometimes, especially for boys science says, it can take a bit of time for them to reflect on the conversation and they might surprise you a few days later with a followup talk.
- If you want to make something a “conversation,” make sure you don’t turn it into a lecture. This is sure to decrease the chances for them to want to open up to you next time.
- Take your detective hat off and limit the 50 questions. Be supportive and don’t try to be sneaky in trying to get all the info you want. Let them lead and keep it low-key and conversational.
- Open up to your child about your life personally also. If you expect them to open up and you never express your personal feelings, they’re less likely to also. Doing this frequently in the beginning is a great technique to get them to do so also. Share your worries and concerns, they’re more likely to share theirs.
Conclusion: Top Ingredient For Parenting Teenagers
So as we shared above, there are many different “expert” opinions on how to parent and what’s the best technique.
As a father of three, I can definitely say that each of my children responds differently, thus why I use “quotation marks” around the word “expert.”
There is no one master way or ingredient other than really getting our children to open up and talk with us honestly and frequently.
If your child isn’t opening up as frequently as you like, try the nine tips we suggested above.
If these suggestions don’t work, well that brings me to today’s Table Talk question for you to try with your child during your next meal or conversation. “What advice would you give another parent as the best ingredient a parent could use for raising a Teenager?” See what type of feedback you get and let us know in the comments below.
If you found the discussion and talking points interesting, then we would like to invite you to take a look at our Table Talk. Conversations have been proven to help kids perform better academically, reduce the likelihood they will engage in risky behavior, and strengthen the relationship between teens and parents. Click here to learn more.