Unless you are listening to your favorite album, hearing an amazing speech or captivated by a well-written movie, listening is hard.
Some humans are easy to listen to—most are not.
Of all of the human beings in our world, many people would rank teenagers “#1 Most Difficult to Converse With.”
Five Top Reasons Why It’s Difficult to Speak With a Teenager:
- Lack of eye contact.
- Regular PHUBBING . What is phubbing? Phone + Snubbing = Phubbing = Ignoring someone to look at your phone.
- Use of name-calling, labels, put downs, aggressive-tone.
- Use of eye-rolling, smirking, grouchy-face, grabbing hair to look for split-ends.
- Use of exaggeration: “You always…” “You never…”
If you have a teenager, then you are nodding your head up and down right now, and probably getting angry thinking about which of the above your teen has mastered.
When our children become teenagers we expect to have mature, deep conversations with them. But as we know, it takes two people to have a meaningful conversation, and if one party doesn’t practice good listening skills, then conversation is difficult.
Difficult, but not impossible.
Everyday I work with teenagers who have not mastered the art of being an excellent listener.
Most teens struggle with communication.
They interrupt, they label, they phubb. (Jerks!)
Yet like every skill in life, teenagers need mentoring and practice in the art of listening.
Like 5th graders need mentoring and help learning their times-tables, teenagers need mentoring, modeling and serious help learning how to have a mature conversation.
Whose job is it to mentor teenagers in the art of listening?
Parents. This is a parent’s job.
But many parents aren’t teaching or mentoring this to their teens.
Five Reasons Why Parents Aren’t Teaching/Mentoring/Modeling Good Listening Skills to Their Teen
- Parents get triggered by what the teenager says, and then do one or more of the folowing practices:
- Parents interrupt, label, use aggression or exaggeration.
- Parents raise their voice.
- Parents prefer to give long sermons rather than listen for long.
- Parents decide to make the conversation a teaching moment and use their authority/power to threaten, to punish, or to remind their teen who is in authority.
Parents, when you stop being an excellent listener, everyone loses.
You lose because your teen will check out of the conversation, and in time, he/she will check out of an intimate relationship with you. They will become distance, defiant, aggressive, or all three. If this has occurred with you, then I suggest calling me or a professional, and asking for help.
Your family loses because they have to listen to yet another loud/harmful/negative conversation interaction between you two.
Your teen loses because if you don’t practice excellent listening skills, then how are they ever going to learn how to be a good listener!!!???
Teenagers will not learn skills that parents do not practice nor model for them.
How can a teen learn to act like a mature adult, if their parent doesn’t show them this is how to act like a mature adult?
If you don’t act like the adult, then no one will.
Parents often try to explain or defend their non-listening, childish behavior to me. They justify it by saying things like, “But Sean, you don’t know what my teen says to be! He is such a selfish jerk! I can’t help myself when he gets like that, I have to respond! I can’t just let him get away with it!”
We must regulate ourselves so that we can be the listeners that our kids and our family needs.
The better listener you are, the more your teen will talk with you.
And the more that your teen speaks with you, 1) the more you will hear things that you like hearing and 2) the more you will hear things that you DO NOT like hearing. You will hear things that make you sick to your stomach. Things that make you afraid, ashamed or even disgusted. The question is: How will you respond the next time you get triggered by something your teen says?
Action 3—How to Be Close to Your Teen/Child: Listen
Remember what this article is all about: How to Be Close to Your Teen/Child.
If you want to be close to your teen/child—be an excellent listener. For more ideas on how to be a good listener, click HERE.
Stay tuned for additional Parenting Actions coming soon!
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!
How we help teens and parents:
Sean Donohue Family Coaching provides coaching and mentoring to hurting and defiant teenagers and we show parents how to restore love, order and communication to their family.
If your family is hurting or struggling with communication or defiance, we would love to partner with you and help you to restore love and communication to your home. We come to you. We don’t want or need “an office.” We connect with teens doing activities they enjoy doing, and meet with families in their homes.