Intentional Opportunities for Casual Conversations with your Teen
Reach Higher Shasta
Engaging your teen in casual dialogue is a fruitful investment of your time and energy! Asking open-ended questions about school, friends, hopes, fears and their vision of themselves as an adult prove to be invaluable, entertaining and enlightening conversations. Many parents report the most informative conversations with their children occur while riding in a car, cooking a meal together or while engaged in an activity that both enjoy. Reach Higher Shasta’s teachers, school counselors and administrators encourage parents to be intentional in creating opportunities for casual conversations!
Of course, a healthy conversation includes both talking and listening. Listening means paying attention not only to your child’s story, but how it is told, the tone of voice and body language. In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages. Your ability to listen effectively depends on the effort you are putting forth, your dedication to listening without solving the other person’s problem, ability to refrain from thinking about what to say next and most certainly your ability to listen without infusing your personal beliefs. Remember to model effective listening skills because it’s crucial that our children become good listeners due to the multitude of benefits, including but not limited to family dynamics, ability to make and maintain friendships and to become employable. “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.” (Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen) Further study of listening and communication skills is available at bit.ly/listeningskillsyouneed.
The freedom to have casual and open conversations builds rapport between teens and their parents/guardians. Over time, this strategy enhances the relationship but also eases the anxiety for teens confiding in parents/guardians about sensitive topics like bullying, peer pressure and abuse. We encourage parents/guardians to feel free to talk to their teens about certain common teenage problems like dating, sex, drugs and alcohol. Effective use of communication will foster relationships of trust, respect and acceptance between the teen and the parent. It is vital to our children’s mental health that each and every one of them have a responsible, nurturing adult in their life and that they have an adult willing to listen without judgment.