Taken From: Here
Changes That Affect Communication During Adolescence
It's not just your body that develops during puberty. Your mind is growing too. And this
emotional development affects your relationships — all of them. Just as you've noticed
how some friendships deepen whereas others end, the longstanding relationships you have
with people like parents are going to change too. It's all about establishing the unique
identity and interests that will turn you into an independent, self-reliant adult.
People's minds develop in several ways during their teenage years. Not only is this a time
when you develop better problem-solving skills and the ability to make responsible
choices, you're also examining different values and beliefs and engaging in more
self-discovery than at any other time in your life.
It's not hard to see how these changes can affect relationships with adults: You're more
confident in your ability to decide things for yourself and resolve problems on your own,
but your parents may still see you as the little kid who relied on them to make all the
decisions. You're trying out new approaches to life and beliefs, but these may not be the
same as those held by your parents. Although it's important for teens to separate
themselves from their parents as a way of discovering their own identity, the separation
process is a delicate balance. And it's one of the biggest times of conflict between a
parent and child.
To achieve a sense of separation, some guys and girls may find themselves disagreeing
with, clashing with, and rebelling against their parents for a time. Others may want to
voice their opinions but keep them suppressed because they don't want to upset a parent or
other authority figure. All of these changes can feel confusing to someone who's used to
having a close relationship with a parent or other adult. So how can you make sure your
voice is not only heard but listened to?
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
The best tool you can use in communicating with parents — or any adult — is to keep
talking to them, no matter what. Strong relationships depend heavily on keeping the lines
of communication open (think of your close friends and how much you talk). Try to talk
about everyday stuff with your parents as a way of building a connection. That doesn't
mean telling them everything. In fact, turn the focus onto them for a change: Ask about
their day — just as they do with you.
Another way to get a parent to ask fewer questions is to offer some information on your
own. This puts the communication in your hands. The more you keep adults informed about
everyday things — even seemingly routine things like who drove you to soccer practice
— the less they need to ask. Communicating everyday things has another advantage: It can
show your parents that you're mature and responsible enough to make good decisions.
It won't always be easy. You may get frustrated at times. But try not to give up. It may
take a bit for a parent who is used to making all the decisions to adjust to the
independent-thinking person their child is becoming. Parents also don't want to see their
sons and daughters suffer if the choices they make on their own aren't the "right" ones.
To many parents, it seems easier to step in and take control simply because they believe
their years of experience put them in a better position to make decisions. If you feel
that's the case with your parents, talk to them about it.
Disagree Without Disrespect
Parents are only human, and they can feel offended when their views are challenged.
Parents can take their teen's disagreement personally, especially if you question values
that your parents hold dear, such as political or religious beliefs. So what can you do to
get your points across in a way that doesn't turn ugly? Remember this motto: "Disagree
Using respectful language and behavior in your everyday interactions is important. Resist
the temptation to use sarcasm, yell, or put down your parents and you'll have a much
better chance of getting what you want.
Nonverbal actions reinforce respectful language and show that you mean what you say. If
you're helpful and considerate toward family members, teachers, or coaches in your
everyday actions, it demonstrates respect and helps establish a foundation for those times
when you may disagree. Plus, acting respectfully demonstrates maturity. Parents are more
likely to think of their children as grown up — and, as a result, capable of making more
important decisions — when they see them acting maturely.
How to Disagree With Your Parents
Of course, some parents are better than others at helping you to communicate well. Parents
can help by listening to and respecting a teen's point of view, even if it opposes their
own. If your parents just don't seem to be on the same track as you, try these tips for
Don't make it personal. If you get upset, try to remember you're mad at the idea or
concept your parent or another adult is raising, not the person.
Avoid putting down your parents' ideas and beliefs. Instead of saying "That's a stupid
idea," try "I don't agree, and here's why."
Use "I" statements to communicate how you feel, what you think, and what you want or need.
Using "you" statements can sound argumentative. For example, telling your mom or dad, "You
always remind me about my chores on Wednesdays when you know I have a lot of homework" has
a very different tone from "I'm feeling pressured because I have a lot of homework
tonight. Can I do those chores tomorrow?"
Listen to the other point of view. Doing so makes it more likely that a parent or adult
will listen to yours.
Raising Difficult Issues
Your coach hit you. Someone in your group has been arrested for shoplifting. Your best
friend tried to commit suicide: There are times when you'll need help from your parents
— if you're in trouble, want advice or guidance, or are having trouble managing emotions
or dealing with a difficult experience.
Raising sensitive topics can be difficult, but sometimes a parent knows you better than
you think. And teens who have already built good communication habits with their parents
will have an easier time talking to them about the tough issues.
Here are some strategies for approaching your parents
(or any adult) with a difficult issue:
Plan what you want to say ahead of time. Thinking the issue over
beforehand or writing notes will help you manage the conversation.
Write down the three most important things you want your parents to know
(many adults use this technique too; it's a great way to prioritize
and focus the conversation on what's important). You may also want to think
about how your parents might react and plan the most effective response.
Let them know directly that there's something you'd like to discuss.
To be sure you have their full attention, be direct in your language.
Say, "There's something important I want to talk to you about"
instead of "Hey, when you have a moment I'd like to talk."
Of course, if the issue you have is an emergency,
you'll need to address your concern quickly.
Prepare them for the conversation by telling
them you need their attention on something that's urgent.
Pick a good time to talk. Try to approach them at a time
when you know they'll be less busy and more able to focus on you.
You may even want to ask if they could set aside an hour or so to talk
at a particular time so that you know you have their undivided attention.
Write it down. Some people find it easier to put their ideas into a letter.
Let the other person read it and then have your discussion.
Talking to Other Adults
No matter how good your relationship is with your parents, there will be times when you'll
feel more comfortable confiding in or asking for help from other adults. If you'd rather
not ask your parents about a particular issue (like sex), if you feel you're being abused
by a parent, or if you'd just like to talk to someone else first, there are always other
resources. Most adults will keep your conversations confidential if you ask them to,
unless they fear that your health or well-being may be in jeopardy.
If you're having problems with friends, schoolwork, teachers, or your parents, consider
talking to your school guidance counselor. These counselors are specially trained to talk
privately with you and to provide help and support in these types of situations. A
guidance counselor can also refer a teen to a professional therapist in cases where this
might be beneficial.
For medical concerns and questions about sex, try talking to your school nurse, health
education teacher, family doctor, an adolescent doctor (a doctor who specializes in
treating adolescents and teens), or a gynecologist.
Other family members, such as an aunt, uncle, or older sibling, can help provide wisdom or
comfort when it's needed.
Parents of a close friend may also be able to help.
(They may even be able to ease your parents' fears about certain issues —
like dating, going to a co-ed party, or sleeping over at a new friend's house.)
If you're involved in a church group or belong to a synagogue or mosque,
your spiritual or youth group leader may also be a good source of comfort and advice.
And if you're involved in an extracurricular activity, such as sports or drama,
you may feel close enough to your coach or advisory to ask him or her about the more
Even if you'd rather talk to friends about certain things,
there are times when talking to parents or other adults is a necessity.
If you think you're in danger physically or mentally,
talking to a responsible adult is important.
And if you're concerned about a friend with a serious problem,
don't worry about getting him or her in trouble.
Waiting for the "right time" could be too late for someone
who is suicidal, has an eating disorder, or is being abused.
An adult may have more experience, be able to contact the
right person, or find the best resources to get help.
Communicating with your parents may seem difficult right now, but chances are it will get
easier with time.
When this period of growth is over, it's likely you'll return to feeling close
to your parents and that you'll communicate with them on a new level.