At one point or another, most parents of teenagers have heard the words “I hate you.” While this may be a bold statement, it simply is not always the truth. Transitioning from childhood to adolescence is a difficult and challenging period. Teenagers set out on a path to find them self and become an adult. Many teens that are rebellious and opposition towards adults, do so because their parents seem like a roadblock. In a teen’s mindset, they want to become independent, disconnect from feeling like a child, make their own choices and have new interests. More often than not, teens feel that their parents are trying to “control” them by not giving them the space to make their own decisions. Teens also tend to feel that their parents do not understand them. Keep in mind, even though you were once a teenager, you may not actually understand what is happening in their generation.
As a parent, what can you do if your teen “hates” you? Try to understand your son or daughter. Ask meaningful questions to get a better understanding of your teen’s life. Since your teen is learning to make choices on their own, simple questions such as “What are your options?” can help them to organize their thoughts when the time comes to make decisions for themselves. Another way to help your teen feel that you are on their side is to ask them “What can I do to help?’ or “What can I do to help you feel more supported?”
Enhancing communication between parent and teen is essential. Practice healthy communication skills with your teenager by using active listening skills. After they complete a thought or point you can paraphrase what they are saying or ask clarifying questions. Helping them to speak openly about what is important to them is key.
When communicating with your teenager, remember to remain calm. Do not to mirror your teenager’s anger or frustration. If your teen is raising their voice, the impulse is to raise yours as well, but remain calm and respond with an even-tone. If the situation seems to be getting worse, take a break and come back when your thoughts are collected and emotions are not running high. It is important to keep in mind that you are the adult and you therefore have more experience around emotional intelligence.
Give your teen guidance. It may seem like the best way to help your teen navigate through life is to give advice rather than giving guidance, but consider the latter. When giving your teen your advice on a particular situation it will come off as if you are pushing your own agenda. When giving guidance, you are leading them through their own life choices.