Having difficulty communicating with parents is something many kids go through. As parents, there are things you can do so your children will listen more and really hear what you’re saying. But it’s definitely a two-way street -- parents need to listen to what their children are saying too. Parents, share the following with your kids to help improve your communicating, and listening.

Talking with your parents isn't really very different from talking with your friends.

Think about it. The friends you like the most probably are honest with you, show up on time when you have someplace to go, know when to back off because you need some space, and don't try to act like people they're not. So, you respect who they are, care about them and like to be around them.

Parents and teenagers can have the same kind of relationship. If there seems to be a breakdown in communication with your parents, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Say what you mean, and be specific. Don't say, "I hate French. The teacher's a jerk, and everyone is flunking," if what you're really trying to say is, "I know this will upset you, but I got my French grade today, and it's terrible."
  • Try not to be defensive. If your mom asks what time you'll be home, don't assume she thinks you're sneaking around or doing drugs. She is probably concerned about your well-being, and knowing you'll be home at a certain time eases her worry when you're not at home. The same theory applies to your dad. If he asks you who's driving you to the concert, don't assume he thinks all your friends are irresponsible and so are you. Knowing where you'll be and who you're with makes it easier for him to give you more freedom.
  • Give your parents a chance to think things over. It isn't fair to ask for something you want if you need an answer immediately. Allowing extra time also shows your parents that you think the issue is important enough to deserve attention from them.
  • Don't make your parents guess what is important to you. Tell them and make sure you think things over first. If everything you bring up seems crucial, your parents will be confused about your priorities.
  • Try to pick a time to talk that is good for everyone. If your parents can't talk to you at that moment, it doesn't mean they're not interested. Ask them to suggest a time that's better for both of you.
  • Introduce your parents to things you enjoy. For example, if there's a new group whose music you like, ask them if they want to hear it. Tell them why you think it's great. It will be a refreshing change for your parents to learn from you.

Give a copy of this to your parents. It might help them to see things more the way you do.

Margaret R. Paccione-Dyszlewski, PhD

Dr. Margaret Paccione-Dyszlewski is the director of clinical innovation at Bradley Hospital. She has more than 35 years of experience in supervisory and administrative positions as well as extensive experience with trauma patients and managing trauma-related service environments.