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Healthy Relationships Between Parents and Teens

Written by: Max Merritt, M.A.
Healthy Relationships Between Parents and Teens

Healthy Relationships between Parents & Teens require good communication.

A healthy relationship is one that is based on respect, honesty, trust, communication, individuality, safety, support, and acceptance. Here are some tips for communication that will help foster a healthy relationship between parents and teens.

Teenage “TALKN” Tips

Talk every day to build your relationship to make it easier for “big” talks.

Ask them to hear you out and try not to judge you. Sometimes we all need those reminders, plus it can clue them in that this is important.

Listening goes both ways.

Keep the “I statement” in mind. “I need to talk to you – but I’m afraid I’ll disappoint you.” Be open and honest.

Need a break. Take one! Just agree to talk again later. A few deep breaths, repeating back what the other one said, taking time to think, or just a breath of fresh air can sometimes put YOU or YOUR PARENTS back in a positive frame of mind.

Parents TEACH teens through talking

Take a minute to relax with your teen. We are less defensive when we are relaxed. We are more likely to talk when we are not preoccupied with something else. Teens feel valued when we give them our time and attention.

Empathize. Teens often feel adults minimize their feelings and relationships. Teens are more likely to open up if they think you at least sort of get it! Empathizing doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers- you can explore solutions together if a solution is even needed.

Acknowledge their feelings and needs. If they haven’t shared them yet, you can make a wise guess and say how they might feel – you’ve accomplished something even if they correct you. Then you can acknowledge that.

Connect by actively listening before sharing your thoughts. Teens complain that parents/caregivers don’t listen and they judge. Make sure they feel heard and understood before you share your thoughts and feelings. Lectures prevent connection!! You can implement clear, logical consequences when necessary without losing long-term connection with your teen. When sharing thoughts, don’t criticize; instead, stick to your intentions, needs, and concerns.

Help them problem-solve when they’re ready. Not all conversations will lead to a solution. Some solutions are developed over time and further discussion. Trust that your teen WILL think about what you discussed, especially if they felt heard and supported. BE AVAILABLE if they need help problem solving later. EMPOWER them to come up with solutions that will help them in the long run when you’re not there. Offer your suggestions, and if possible, the logic behind those solutions. Assist your teen in thinking through the issue or problem, and the consequences of possible solutions. You can have some fun with this too – ridiculous solutions at the right time can lighten the mood and bring you closer.

Adapted from Start Strong Idaho workshop and research conducted by John Gottman