Sue Scheff: Does Your Teen Talk to You?

Debra Beck is an author and mentor to parents, teens and families. Her Blog offers sound and real advice with today’s teens. As always, I enjoy sharing these informational articles, thoughts and ideas on parenting. Check out Debra’s book, My Feet Aren’t Ugly.

By Debra Beck

This is such a tough time for parents, even if you understand what is going on, it can be heartbreaking.

Usually around 12-15 years old depending on the teen, he or she will start pulling away from parents, this is a normal, healthy stage in adolescent development. The teen will pull away from parents as he or she attempts to develop their own identity. It is a natural process for the preparation of leaving the nest.

I remember my oldest daughter and I were very close, we spend a lot of time together, and we talked about everything. When she was 13 years old, she started spending more time in her bedroom on the phone, more time with friends and most all communication was off with me. I used to go open her bedroom door and say “have you seen my daughter Amber anywhere? She would just say “Mom”, and roll her eyes, and I would laugh and say “if you see her tell her hi” and I would shut the door.

I didn’t try to make her talk to me, or make her hang out with me, and I tried not to take it personally, although I missed her terribly. I remember she started coming back to me about 10 months to a year later.

The more you communicate with your kids when they are younger, the easier these times will be. The pulling away won’t be as extreme, and it might not last as long. If you wait until your child is 12 years old to start communicating with them, I can almost guarantee they are not going to want to talk to you much at all.

You also want to make sure that this is just normal pulling away, not something more. If pulling away is accompanied with yelling, anger, tantrums, erratic moodiness, hostility, and depression, bad grades, and isolation even with friends, there is probably something bigger going on.
Here are some quick tips to make those times easier:

• Don’t take it personally, have fun with it.

• Try talking to your teen about the things he or she is interested in.

• Do family thing on the weekday nights, better chance of participation.

• Understand that this is a time when they need more space, more time with friends and a bit more freedom.

• Pay attention and make sure it’s not something more serious.

• Let them know you understand that it is okay, and that you are available if they need you.

Remember that they come back to you, so try not to pressure them to much during this time so they don’t shut down and never want to come back. That is the good new this is temporary.

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