Parenting Tips, Info, & Advice
Dear Heartful, how can I communicate with my teens who already know everything?
A while ago, I issued the invitation to you to share with me what was keeping you up at night and creating stress in your lives. Many of you shared your thoughts, and opened up with vulnerability, and I am so grateful. I’m going to attempt to answer as many of the questions as I can in the coming weeks!
I have older kids—a high school junior and two college freshmen…they’re teens and already know everything and don’t want to talk about building inner resources of strength and resilience with their mom. I know from experience that intention and practice can grow inner resources; that's what's keeping me afloat right now, along with my friends and family. How can I communicate with my teens who already know everything? Can I puppeteer things so this information comes at them from somewhere else? I'm feeling a bit helpless but maybe this takes a little more creativity to cut through the fog.
The Heartful Parent Response
Teens are so hard and so wonderful, aren’t they? I feel like mine challenges me almost daily and has given me new opportunities to grow as a parent. Either that, or she’s given me new opportunities to grow gray hairs—not sure which one happens more. 😊
In all seriousness, this has been a very difficult time for so many, and even as the world seems to reopen, the uncertainty of new viral strains and their impact as well as the larger political environment is hard! Here a few quick tips for helping our tweens, teens, and young adults cope:
- Teens, like most of us, shut down when an adult tries to “share their wisdom”—lecturing, even for a minute or two, can shut them down pretty quick. So the first thing we have to remember is that while we can provide support, some of those tools you have built (your intention and inner practices) were hard earned—you learned them over time through trial and error. Our children need the space to earn and learn those tools as well. When we figure things out like that ourselves, they “stick” better.
- If you do have something to share, consider speaking teen. By that I mean, send them a short and easy text in the form of a Public Service Announcement that requires little to no engagement for them. Example: “A PSA from your loving mom. Did you know that a daily gratitude practice can help the brain cope with stress? What is something you are grateful for today? Love you!”
- When our teens are in struggle, sometimes they just need us to listen. This is hard because we know so much! And they know so little! But think they know everything! 😉 When they are in struggle, sometimes the best course of action is to simply say: “You seem ____________ (insert emotion here). Do you want me to do something, say something, or just listen?” I’ll write more on this later, but these words can work magic with teens. And, if they say they don’t need you, let them know that that’s okay, but that you’ll check back in later/tomorrow/next week/etc. This way they know your proverbial door is always open.
One final word—if you have a tween or teen that appears to be struggling more than “normal” (though what is normal is a bit distorted right now), getting them some outside support can be game-changing. That support can come in the form of therapy, or even teen coaching. I partner with Sherra Grasser from MePowerment in providing coaching to teens, and she can be an absolutely wonderful resource so that the skill-building comes from another quarter, and you can just be mom.
Good luck and hang in there,
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Christy Keating is a certified parent coach, positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.
The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.