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parenting skills
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Communicating With Teens
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Communicating With Teens

Parenting skills for teens in today’s world is no picnic. With the invention of the iPhone, texting, and Xbox, having a simple conversation with our children seems to be just short of impossible. In fact reports indicate that with all of these distractors prominent in our children’s lives; our teens today are losing their ability to effectively communicate which is also affecting their ability to have meaningful relationships.

With so infrequent opportunities to use our parenting skills to communicate with our teens, you have to wonder if we are not losing our children in the process. Attitudes are becoming volatile with texting as our teens feel as though they can say anything they want through these new social media techniques. If a child wants to argue with a parent now, it is as simple as the push of a few letters on their phones through a simple text message in rude, thoughtless manners of which they would never dare consider saying if they were actually in front of you.

In fact, since there is no facial expression, tension, or taxing conversation to attach in many of these social forums, although our teens may seem distraught in the process of the text, they may be in fact happily entertained with friends, and only using the process to manipulate and confuse parents.

An effective teen tool, we really have to ask ourselves, has it become so impossible to have a thoughtful parental conversation with our children. It seems as though teens are continually manipulating there iPhone or texting with constant messages in every avenue of their daily routine. Somehow it has become acceptable behavior to always be playing with a communication device or digital game and impossible to have a serious discussion at the dinner table, in a restaurant or even while driving down the highway, teens seem to be ever occupied with anything but what is the focus of a meaningful discussion with their parents.

As parents we have a responsibility to teach our children what is right and what is wrong. We also have to keep in mind that parenting is not about being popular. The truth is, no matter what you do, or what you say, your children will never really think you’re cool. Equally, they will never be satisfied with what you have to say, and tend to continue to jockey until they get their way. Keep in mind--If you are tagged as being cool parents, that label in fact is not complimentary of your duties to safeguard your child or being a responsible parent.

I think that the obvious answer to correct this behavior to no longer allow this process to continue and correct it at its first onset. Tell your teen that it is disrespectful to have a phone at the dinner table or to conduct an argument by text. If they could only get the idea, it would be so simple, but that’s just not the case.

Another key to communicating with our teens is to schedule mandatory family time at least once or twice a week in which you tell your children not to make any plans because it will be spent exclusively with family. Have a plan for this scheduled event. Examples for effective family time could be as simple as going to the beach, boating, going to the movies, a restaurant for dinner, or the bowling alley-Then assign rules. Rules should include that the use of phones will not be allowed during this time, friends are not invited, and anything that will distract them from the family being together as a unit will not be allowed.

Be firm with your communication—you can never ask a teen if they want to do something because they never will want to anything you want to do that takes time from their friends. The basic response from our teens will always be “do I have to”? Control this discussion and be firm with a response of yes-you have to.

As parents we have to understand that there is a distinct need to sometimes tell your teen what they must do, and then follow through. Equally, we cannot be wishy washy. Nothing will cause the loss of respect for a parent faster than a parent who cannot stick with what they say. Although teens oppose direction, they actually desire the discipline and more so they appreciate it. Teens like to have structure in their lives! They like to know what direction they are heading and where they are going.

Parenting skills for teens will not always be fun, but we owe it to our teens to effectively communicate with them so that they can be productive, respectable, and successful as adults. It is also a critical part of their relationship building skills. If they only have the ability to communicate by the standards of today’s social media, what does the outcome of their future look like, and more importantly what does the outcome of their own future family relationships look like? Communicating with your teen is the key to their future. Good luck to all of you.

Street Talk

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