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Tips on Communicating with Teens

One day we’re wrangling preschoolers, tying their shoes and washing syrup out of their hair. Five minutes later they are taller than us and rolling their eyes when we can’t figure out how to download music on our iPod.

Parenting teens is not for the weak. You have to be strong, have resolve, committed to holding your head up even when your child asks you to drop them off on the service road to the school so no one sees your cool van.

A common complaint among parents of teens is that they won’t talk to them. Their teenager puts the ear buds in and checks out of the relationship. Often we take that not-so-subtle cue and disengage ourselves. It’s true that our kids might need a little more space to spread their wings, but the last thing they need is us stepping away and taking the branch with us while they are still perched on it.

For the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing some tips on the Real Moms of West Michigan to help parents have better conversations with their kids.

This week I want to share an acronym that I heard author Anne Lamott share. In her latest book about becoming a grandma she shares some advice to mother-in-laws that I believe can be hugely beneficial to moms of teenagers also.

W-A-I-T. Which stands for Why-Am-I-Talking?

I think this is a good thing for moms of teens to keep in mind when talking with their kids. It doesn’t mean that we don’t ever share our opinion or give advice but it means that we pause and listen first and maybe ration our wealth of knowledge.

When your child looks at you like Simon Cowell looks at a biker-chick singing a pitchy version of Achy-Breaky Heart, you might want to WAIT. They are not hearing a word you are saying, they just wish the squawking would stop.

Another thing that I’ve been guilty of is:  listening to part of what my child is telling me and then interrupting them mid-sentence and giving them my advice to fix the issue at hand. This includes things which are not even issues to them…just part of their everyday life that I feel the need to interject my opinion upon. Instead I should probably WAIT, listen to what they are telling me and then decide if what I want to say is necessary or just noise.  You may find out that by the end of the story, no input from you was needed at all. Just an ear.

Moms, before we jump in with our pearls of wisdom, let’s think to ourselves: Why Am I Talking?

  1. Listen first

  2. Be fanatically on their side

  3. WAIT

I’d love to hear what tips you have on communicating with your teens.

Next week I have one of the biggest reasons that our teens don’t talk to us. Huge even. Tune in!

I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio. Listen to today’s segment: Real Moms: Communicating with Our Teens 5-1-12

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