Here is a refrain we have heard many times through our years of counseling teens and young adults. “My dad told me the other day that he wants to take me out for breakfast and have a talk with me. What he really means is that he wants me to sit there while he talks. He doesn’t really want to talk with me; he just wants me to listen to him talk. He probably has a new list of things I am doing wrong.”
The breakfast meeting will happen, but the heart of this teen is already closed off to anything the father is going to say. The walls have already been built.
As our children grow, our parenting style must grow with them. When we have issues with our ve-year-old boy, Ray, we do most of the talking. (Although it is always good to listen to our children no matter their age). But if we take this same ap- proach with our teens, we may do more harm than good. Have you ever heard your teen say, “You treat me like I am still a little kid!” They may be right. When we do this to our teens they feel disrespected, and many times rightly so. As our children move through the teen years, we should increasingly relate to them as adults. Sometimes this means a lot more listening and a lot less talking.
Consider asking your teen directly, “Do you feel like I take the time to listen to you and understand your perspective on things? Or do you feel like I am more focused on talking and trying to make you understand my perspective?”