Hear me Out: 9 Tips to Better Communicate with your Parents
In one of our previous articles, 9 Tips to Better Communicate with your Teenager, we listed a few tips that parents might find useful when attempting to communicate with their teenage children. While your parents make an effort to better understand you and be mindful during conversations, you should also try to be open and communicative, because communication involves two parties and “it takes two hands to clap”.
However, most teenagers we interact with quickly dismiss even the possibility of communicating important issues or feelings (e.g. educational choices or BGR issues) with their parents, as they find it awkward. Some claim that they have stopped having interesting conversations with their parents as every discussion more or less ends up in an argument. While this might not be the case for everyone, every teenager has instances where they experience some fear or discomfort when they think about discussing something important with their mums and dads. So, here are a few tips to help you kick-start a serious conversation with your parents!
The idea of discussing something important with your parents can seem less intimidating if there is an open channel of communication. You can ensure this by making an effort to talk to your parents about your day-to-day activities. You can share information about how your day was, about the latest video game you purchased or movie that you watched. This will make it easier for you to communicate with your parents in the future, when you have something significant to discuss. Sharing your interests will also help you bond with your parents, making you more receptive to each other’s perspectives.
It is also good to remember that our mindset prior to a conversation can easily influence the direction in which the discussion goes. So, try not to start a conversation with a defensive attitude. When your parents offer you advice, pay attention to what is being said. Does it make sense? Do they have a point? This will improve your willingness to listen to their opinions and your ability to understand their perspective. Remember, your parents were once teenagers too! They are not always out to ruin your fun; instead they may have genuine concerns regarding your safety or future. They also have the gift of hindsight, as they may have experienced similar issues or feelings in the past. Hence, their concerns may be valid and should be taken into consideration when making important decisions.
Now, what should you DO to ensure that you have a mature conversation with your parents?
Think about what you want from a conversation. Be aware of what you would like to get from this dialogue; is it advice, a listening ear or permission to do something? Then communicate it with your parents. This will provide a cue for your parents on how to handle the conversation. E.g. “Dad, I need your advice about something” or “Mom, I have problem that I need to talk to you about. But please just hear me out”.
Pick a good moment. Choose an appropriate time to have an important conversation. Ensure that everyone who is a part of the conversation is relaxed, comfortable and available (i.e. not engaged with other activities like watching television or tending to the house). If you find it difficult to pick a time when everyone is available, simply inform your parents that you would like to talk to them and give them some time to make themselves free.
Be clear and direct. Identify your thoughts and feelings and clearly communicate them with your parents. This will help them understand your situation better.
Be honest. Be as truthful as you can be, all the time! This builds trust, allowing your parents to believe what you are saying when you articulate your problems or concerns.
Do not interrupt each other. Try not to cut off each other’s sentences. This applies to you and your parents.
Pay attention to your body language. Do not roll your eyes, fold your arms or point your finger. This sets a negative tone to the conversation. Instead, show respect and focus on the conversation (i.e. what is being said).
Do not demand. Make requests instead. A demand is when the other party does not have the space to say “No”. For example, if your parent refused to extend your curfew and you respond by yelling “YOU are always making things difficult for me!” the question was a demand. However, the question becomes a request, if you had responded by saying “Okay, but can we discuss this because I really think I have good reasons to ask for an extension”. Your parents will appreciate this behaviour when they see you handling the situation respectfully.
Make ‘I’ statements. Instead of saying “You don’t get me!” try saying “I feel that you are getting my point”.
Try your best to stay calm. This will show your parents that you are maturing, making it easier for them to trust you and respect your opinions.
However, there may still be scenarios where your parents may not be able to give you what you want immediately. They would probably need some time to think things through. Give them space and they will definitely get back to you. Unfortunately there will also be moments when you may have tried everything but to no avail. At times like these, do not kick up a fuss. Your parents will usually come around when they notice how well you are handling the situation.
The abovementioned tips will not only help you have good conversations with your parents, they will also aid in shaping you into a good communicator on the whole. It is important to develop this skill as poor communication can destroy even the greatest relationships! Remember "people fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they have not communicated with each other." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. Bradley Hospital. (n.d.). Children and Teenagers: How to Talk So Your Parents Will Listen. Retrieved 02 16, 2015, from Bradley Hospital: http://www.bradleyhospital.org/parenting-resources/parent-child-communication/how-to-talk-so-your-parents-will-listen.html
2. Butler, S. (n.d.). How to Talk to Your Parents . Retrieved 02 16, 2015, from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints: https://www.lds.org/youth/article/how-to-talk-to-your-parents?lang=eng
3. Devereaux, M. (n.d.). Communicating With Your Parents. University of Tennessee Extension , 07 (27), pp. 1-2.
4. WebMD. (2003, 08 06). Talking With Teens--Tips for Better Communication. Retrieved 02 17, 2015, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/better-communication-with-teens?page=3
5. TeensHealth. (2012, 10). Talking to your Parents-or other Adults. (P. D'Arcy Lyness, Ed.) Retrieved 02 17, 2015, from TeensHealth from Nemours: http://teenshealth.org/teen/your_mind/Parents/talk_to_parents.html#
However, some of you may require more assistance in developing your communication skills or you may still have moments where you feel lost about approaching the adults around you for a chat. At times like these, why not contact Brainworks Education. We understand that adolescence is a time of exploration and accelerated growth. Our life coaching sessions can help you navigate this confusing path by focusing on the best choices for you based on your vision. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.