Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How Would My Teen Grade My Parenting Skills??

Have you ever noticed that your teen seems to be lacking an edit button when it comes to what comes out of their mouth? They are completely unfiltered. What they are thinking is what they are saying. That's why half of what they say is followed by an "I'm only kidding." This is why there are so many hurt feelings and drama during the teen years. Their developing frontal cortex is providing them with new opportunities for analyzing and deeper thinking. This is why their teachers expert more of them when reading texts and deciphering the subtext, because now they have a capacity for thinking deeper that they did not have before. But this deeper thinking is not just reserved for school work, it's for everyone and everything. David Elkind, a Child Development expert calls this "thinking in a new key."I love the image that conjures up. Think of a song that goes through a key change. It sounds the same...but different.

So of course, if your teen is looking at the world and the people in it through a newly developing brain, you become part of their musings. As children, they didn't much think about you as a separate person. They saw themselves as extensions of you. They might think you were unfair in a decision to not let them stay up late to watch a favorite TV show or finish a video game, but didn't think any deeper about that decision you made. Now that same decision passed down to your teen, might erupt into a treatise about the kind of parent you are and then the person you are. "You are smothering me, you never let me make my own decisions, you want to control everything I do, blah blah blah!"  See they are learning about subtext! Now they are analyzing your underlying motivations for the parenting decisions you make. Hello Freud!

Rather than waiting for your teen to "share" their opinions about you at a time that might be volatile due to an unwanted parenting decision, try heading them off at the pass. I actually think that what teens think and say about their parents is oftentimes right on. I credit my daughter for helping me develop better listening skills. "You are interrupting, let me finish" was an oft repeated phrase. And you know what, she was right! Also,"stop asking me so many questions." Again, guilty as charged. Hard as it was to hear, I needed to hear it. 

When you feel you are open to hearing some "feedback," how about asking them outright to share some of their thoughts about you as a parent?  We feel very free sharing our "feedback' with our teens. 'If you only....why can't you just do......I think you should.....I don't like that you.....!' How much of your daily communication with your teen starts off with phrases like this. How about on your next car ride you say:" you know honey, I know I am not a perfect parent, I'm wondering if there are things I could do differently. Are there things I do or say that really bug you. I really would like to know."

You're job at this point is to just listen. It is not to defend or explain your actions. If you need more clarity you can ask questions like: " Can you give me an example? Or, How could I do it differently? You are not agreeing to make any changes, you are just giving them the opportunity to share how what you say and do affects them. The gift is in the opportunity and respect you are giving them for their opinions and your openness to listening. You decide what to do with that information.

PS: Getting my speaking schedule up and running for the 2015-16 year. Email me at joani@joanigeltman.com if you are interested in having me come and present one of my seminars at your school, company, church, temple, community group or on a street corner in your neighborhood!!   Or book an Ask The Expert Party. Invite your friends, or the parents of your teen's friends to your house and I'll spend two hours giving you all tips and strategies, geared specifically to your needs. I also do parent coaching in person and on the phone!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Great article!

    I think this infographic will greatly compliment your article.


    This discusses how modern parenting can hinder brain development. Enjoy!