Communication with teens is complicated even in families that have a history of good relationships. There is all that stuff—hormones, peer pressure, and the need for independence—that gets in the way. But, it’s still possible to make it work.
Communication after Disobedience
Let’s look at the story from a couple of months ago. Dylan is a Christian teen who usually does what is right. However, he went to a party at an abandoned barn. The sheriff showed up, took the kids to the county jail, and allowed them to call their parents. The conversation between Dylan and his parents is a good example of effective communication with teens.
Dylan’s mom told him they would discuss the incident the following morning. That is a good technique for two reasons: everyone will be less emotional after a cooling off time and the teen will have time to sweat.
Let Teen Initiate Talk
Mom did not initiate the conversation the next morning. When Dad returned from a doughnut run, Dylan was ready to talk about the previous night and initiated the discussion.
Listen First to His Story
His parents gave Dylan an opportunity to tell his story. They did it without jumping in before he finished. He actually had a valid reason for wanting to go to the party—his concern for some girls.
Ask How a “Re-do” Would Look
Dad asked, “If you could have a re-do, what would you do differently?” The whole point of discipline is learning and improving. Dad helped Dylan see it in that light.
Ask Teen What He Learned
Mom asked, “What did you learn?” Again, Dylan had a chance to learn from his mistake. He saw two ways to better handle the situation: talk to the girls ahead of time and talk to his parents.
Discuss Punishment Together
Dylan needed to suffer the consequences of his disobedience—going to an unchaperoned party without talking to his parents. Sometimes, kids will choose an appropriate punishment. He chose to spend a “slave day” with his dad. That means he has to give up a Saturday with friends. However, he might gain some wisdom from his dad as they work together.
Goal of Communication with Teens
Communication with teens can be an effective way of guiding them to maturity, especially if the conversation has the goal of learning and improving behavior.