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"Why Won't My Teen Tell Me Things?" - Teen-Parent Communication

Communication breakdowns between

A woman texting while sitting at her computer
Communication can be very difficult at times, here are some ways to help!

teens and parents are a common source of frustration and tension in many households.

As adolescents strive for independence and autonomy, they often encounter barriers that hinder effective communication with their parents.

However, with understanding, patience, and a willingness to bridge the gap, both teens and parents can work together to improve their communication and strengthen their relationship.

Understanding the Barriers

Before delving into solutions, it's essential to recognize the factors that contribute to communication barriers between teens and parents:

1. Generation Gap

Teens and parents often come from different generations, each with its own set of values, beliefs, and communication styles. This generation gap can lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations of each other's perspectives.

2. Power Struggles

Adolescence is a time of asserting independence, which can sometimes manifest as resistance to parental authority. Power struggles over rules, boundaries, and decisions can impede open communication and create tension.

3. Lack of Trust

Building trust is crucial for effective communication. If teens feel judged, criticized, or dismissed by their parents, they may be hesitant to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences openly.

4. Fear of Judgment

Teens may fear being judged, punished, or criticized by their parents for their choices, behaviors, or emotions. This fear can prevent them from being honest and authentic in their communication.

Strategies for Improving Communication

While navigating the complexities of parent-teen communication can be challenging, there are several strategies that both parties can implement to foster better understanding and connection:

1. Active Listening

Parents should strive to listen actively and empathetically to their teens without interrupting or passing judgment. This means giving their full attention, validating their feelings, and refraining from offering immediate advice or criticism.

2. Respect Each Other's Perspectives

Both teens and parents should respect each other's viewpoints, even if they disagree. Encourage open dialogue where everyone feels heard and valued, even if opinions differ.

3. Set Aside Dedicated Time

Create opportunities for meaningful conversations by setting aside dedicated time for family discussions or one-on-one talks. This could be during family meals, walks, or scheduled "check-in" sessions where both teens and parents can share their thoughts and concerns.

4. Be Patient and Understanding

Recognize that effective communication takes time and effort. Be patient with each other, acknowledging that misunderstandings may arise but can be resolved through honest and respectful communication.

5. Lead by Example

Parents can model effective communication by demonstrating active listening, empathy, and respect in their interactions with their teens. By modeling these behaviors, they encourage their teens to do the same.

6. Seek Compromise

Encourage collaborative problem-solving and decision-making, where both teens and parents have a say in finding solutions that meet everyone's needs. This promotes a sense of mutual respect and cooperation.

7. Create a Safe Space

Foster an environment where teens feel safe, supported, and free to express themselves without fear of judgment or reprisal. Emphasize that mistakes and setbacks are opportunities for growth and learning.

Need Resources?

Check out our store with many resources, one of our favorites is our Back and Forth Books for teens and a Back and Forth Book for younger children.

We also have recorded skill groups for parents that come complete with a 2-part video and dozens of downloadable resources!


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