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New Year's Resolution for Parents of Teens:
Give the Gift of Good Conversation

By Barbara McRae

The secret to having kids look forward to spending time with mom and dad lies in treating teens as if they are already adults. When you accept teens as they are and simultaneously bring them to the level of adults, you create a friendly meeting ground. Below are seven ways to help you enjoy your teenage children.

  1. Be Interested
    Demonstrate your interest by completely hearing what your teens have to say. Listen without speaking. Give occasional encouraging nods and sounds. Resist the impulse to dismiss feelings or give unsolicited advice. Be interested in their lives without taking over.

  2. Be Involved
    Check in periodically with your teen and talk about what's on his or her mind. Initiate, but don't force it; leave the door open to take advantage of those times when teens are ready to open up. Talking to them right then, whenever possible, will show them that you really do care. This will strengthen your bond.

  3. Be Respectful
    Teens, like most individuals, want parents to respect their views, even if their parents don't agree with them. Realize that you can acknowledge another's viewpoint without making it right or wrong. With acknowledgment it's much more likely that your son or daughter will want to hear your ideas.

  4. Be Reasonable
    Help your teen understand the reasoning behind your requests. Stay away from commands. Make sure your rules are age-appropriate. Offer choices and be willing to negotiate based on each child's maturity level and the specific situation at hand. One size does not fit all.

  5. Be Understanding
    If your kids want to spend part of their holiday time with their friends, let them. Your teen's friends are important to him or her as your friends are to you. There's no need for feeling competitive; don't take it personal. It isn't!

  6. Be Appreciative
    Stay focused on what you like about your teens. Make meaningful appreciative statements. It doesn't have to be something BIG. Say something like, "Even though you had a lot on your mind, you took the time to call. I really appreciate that." Make sure mean it; kids can spot when you're being phony.

  7. Be Supportive
    Comment on what is being said without evaluating everything. If you begin to feel uncomfortable, say "Uh-huh," and keep listening. Don't get furious, get curious. Use a collaborative approach with your teen. Your support allows your son or daughter to stop and think things through more clearly.

If you took the time to read this article, chances are that you love your kids and realize the importance of modeling preferred behavior. How do you do that? Be good company. This year, consider giving the gift of good conversation.

Barbara McRae, Master Certified Coach, Parent/Teen Expert, and Founder of www.teenfrontier.com, "A Neon Whispers ™ Company", is the bestselling author of Coach Your Teen to Success. Barbara coaches internationally, facilitates workshops, and has been featured in various media outlets, including radio, TV, national magazines, and newspapers.

© 2005 Barbara McRae, MCC.


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