By. Carol Maxym, PhD.
Communication is at the core of successful relationships, but too often both parents and teens have a difficult time making the other understand what they’re feeling. Adolescence is a complicated time in a teen’s life; he or she may be undergoing intense physical, mental, and emotional changes and may also be struggling with finding new ways of expressing their feelings and frustrations.
Learning how to talk with your teen is an important step in helping him or her understand the changes he or she may be experiencing. To help you reestablish and improve communication, the checklist below can help both parents and teens better express how they feel when they’re having a conversation.
Parents and teens will complete the checklist below separately and then share their responses. Simply check off as many of the following words that describe a typical conversation or how you feel when you are talking with your parent or teen.
|speaking different languages||enjoyable||anxious||repetitive|
Next, answer the following questions in a phrase or two:
Check off the following statements that apply to your relationship and/or communication with your teen or parent:
I know he/she really understands and cares about me and my thoughts and feelings.
I know he/she really understands and cares about me and my thoughts and feelings, but …
He/she doesn’t understand how I feel.
He/she wants to understand, but just can’t.
He/she just rambles on and on and on.
It never makes any sense.
I’ve heard it all a million times before.
Isn’t he/she ever going to get it?
I’m tired of taking all the blame/responsibility.
Why is he/she making this so difficult?
I never know how we get to the place we end up in.
I just want it to be over.
She/he is always lecturing me.
I’ve heard all this before.
I don’t believe a word.
I don’t even bother to listen.
I appreciate his/her point of view, but …
That’s just the way adults/teens talk.
I want to believe, but …
I don’t feel I’m being heard.
Now, describe your experience of a good conversation and a bad conversation.
How do you feel about your parent’s or teen’s side of the conversation?
Begin a Conversation
Exchange your questionnaires and use each other’s responses to begin a conversation about your communication. This exercise will work best if each person agrees to listen closely to what is being said with an open mind and without interrupting. You may also want to establish some ground rules for your conversation such as speaking about yourself before speaking about your teen or parent including no criticizing or blaming.
Reflections for Better Communications