Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Conversation not Interrogation
Do you have "the list." You know the one: How was your day? How was school? How much homework do you have? Did you talk to your guidance counselor? What did you have for lunch? Who did you eat lunch with? How was practice? Did your coach say anything to you? How much time did you get to play? Did you sign up for any clubs? Did you take the trash out, empty the dishwasher, and put your clothes away? You know, the list?
Even with the list, I'm guessing that at the most you got the usual 3 word answer: "It was fine! or a Yes, or a No, and a leave me alone!" If you bombard your teen as soon as they walk in the door or get in the car I can almost guarantee that you will leave this one-sided conversation feeling frustrated and rejected.
The subjects that are of the most interest to you, have absolutely no interest or importance to your teen. Unfortunately, you are having to go cold turkey after having a child who wanted to tell you every teeny tiny detail of their day. When you kids are in elementary they want so much for you to be part of their day, as teens, the driven to do just the opposite. You have to come up with a new tactical approach.
Perhaps instead of the question bombardment when they walk in the door, you just give them a quick hug, and a "hope your day was OK." Statements are always better then questions. This leaves them with a choice, maybe they do have something they want to share with you, but since they aren't feeling your desperation for conversation they might actually say something like "it sucked" which you can calmly say something like: "anything in particular, or just a sucky day."
Sometimes your teen is just on overload, and all the crap that's happened during the day, good or bad, gets dumped into the sucked pile. Just acknowledging it, and doing something a little special like going out and buying them their favorite starbucks does the trick, and perhaps opens the door to a conversation rather than in inquisition.
So give them some space when they get home; Ask a general question rather than a thousand small ones: "so what's up for tonight?" Make observations. If your teen looks spent, rather than asking what's wrong, you can say" Gee honey, you look really exhausted and wrung out...bad day. Or You seem really happy today, anything in particular going on?"
Keep the desperation/anger/frustration out of your voice and you might actually get some good information, just like the old days!