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Advice is not Conversation

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December 4, 2012 by admin

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By Arwen McGilvra- This is a special message for the parents of teenagers. I have been working with a couple of area churches on setting up Clear Expectations parenting classes, and one of the questions that came up was; What about teenagers?

One of my favorite quotes is “Raising teenagers is like trying to nail jello to a tree.” I don’t remember who said it, but it’s stuck with me. In my work with teens I’ve learned that the rules change, attitudes change, and it’s hard to predict what each day will be like.

This makes communication/ conversation with your teens very important. However, it may also feel like pulling teeth to get them to communicate with you. Parents and caregivers often blame the independence seeking teens for the failure of conversations to go beyond “Fine” and rolling eyeballs.

I’d like to challenge that assumption, and say that I think both sides bear some responsibility.

Thats because I think parents get into the advice trap with adolescents and as they turn into teenagers that advice trap shut down conversation. Here is how it happens:

Parent: How was your day?

Teen: Horrible! Christy took my math book and wrote in it, and then Mr. Lamp sent me to detention for it.

Parent: Well did you tell Mr. Lamp that Christy did it? or You should have done xyz.

And so it goes you have a solution for every little problem, a band-aid for every nick, and conversation becomes an advice session. But as they grow older they don’t want Mommy or Daddy to solve all their problems for them. They want to feel competent to handle their own lives. Sometimes they just need someone to listen.

So adults I challenge to you to bite your tongue and hold your advice until its asked for or unless the situation is one where safety is at stake.

Stayed Tuned for Part 2 and more information about the Clear Expectations parenting classes.


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