It is amazing how many great things I find on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and so many other places on the internet.
I came across this excellent video that begins to answer the question “How Can I Get My Teenage Son To Open Up To Me?” Susan Stiffelman is a Marriage and Family Therapist who blogs on the website Parent Dish.
She has a wonderful way of explaining how to develop a trusting and open relationship with your teenage son. Check out the video and my response to her points.
Susan’s three suggestions can help open doors of communication and provide a safe relationship where even difficult topics can be addressed.
1. Listen without judging
Listening is a difficult task that is even more challenging when intense emotions are involved. I love the recommendation to ask clarifying questions and avoid giving advice too quickly. I think you can use curiosity to effectively help your son to explore important issues. Your son might respond positively to an open question, while he may become defensive with well meaning advice.
In my role as a therapist, I often use this approach and I can learn a great deal about the teen’s thoughts, emotions and inner world. Then advice can be given from a place of understanding and compassion.
2. Monitor your reactions
Many kids are in tune with their parents non-verbal communication just as much as the words they say. If you can manage your anger and your responses to what your teen has to say, you will communicate to them that you are safe and you can handle their truth.
Dodging expected punishment is a powerful motivation to avoid an open and honest relationship with a parent. You can give your son permission and access to you if you monitor your reactions.
3. Ask your teen what they need from you
This is such a great tip and it makes so much sense. This type of question can provide an opportunity to empower your son, convey your caring and also help him to develop emotional problem solving skills.
Susan suggests that you try to avoid being defensive, thank your teen for opening up and acknowledge him for telling you what he needs.
These ideas will take practice
These suggestions will likely take some practice depending on your relationship with your teen. Don’t be discouraged if you need some help, from a friend, family member or even a therapist.