Knowing how to engage in constructive dialogue with your teenager is one of the most important skills a parent can possess, but it is also one of the most challenging things to pull off well. Generally speaking, teens are not always eager to participate in a “serious” conversation with their parent(s). Nevertheless, by understanding how to effectively talk with your kids you can decrease the occurrence of destructive conflict and increase the likelihood of sending the message to your child that they have been heard and that they are valued and respected.
Your teens face important issues every day. Their ability to make good decisions about drugs and alcohol, sex, friendships and school performance is significantly enhanced by open, honest and direct communication about these issues with you. The stakes are high – one bad decision can literally affect a teenager for the rest of his or her life. When you have constructive dialogue with your teen you are also modeling for them the tools they can rely upon when encountering their own difficult conversations with peers, supervisors, spouses and, someday, their own teenager.
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.