Talking to your Teenager

How do you talk to a teenager who no longer wants to take advice from a parental figure?

Part of the challenge is to communicate with your child in a way that does not assault their strong desire to be self sufficient and independent. However, it is essential to give your opinion about important subjects. But how can you avoid sounding like you are giving another boring lecture?

1. Begin by asking your child what they think about the subject first.

2. Listen carefully and do actually think about what they said.

3. Ask at least one question about what they said to prove you were really paying attention.

4. Try not to always go on about the worst case scenario. There are infinite other possibilities besides the worst outcome.

5. Praise the fact that they have given the subject some good thinking, no matter how outlandish their conclusions.

6. Offer your opinion in a matter of fact way beginning with "I wonder if..." never say "This is the way to do it..."

7. Expect total rejection of your ideas at first and don't try to convince anyone or defend your opinions.

8. Once you have given your teenager your opinion in a non threatening way, he or she will be able to accept the information more easily and without emotional tantrums. Maybe, just maybe, that will be enough to help them make good decisions when you are not around.

©2009, Molly Barrow

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Dr. Molly Barrow holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is the author of the new book, Matchlines: A revolutionary New Way of looking at relationships and making the right choices in love. She is an authority on relationship and psychological topics, a member of the American Psychological Association and a licensed mental health counselor. Dr. Molly has appeared as an expert on NBC, PBS, KTLA, and in O Magazine, Psychology Today, Newsday,,, Women's Health and Women's World. Please visit: or Take the new relationship compatibility test, Match Lines Systems for Successful Relationships for Singles, Couples and Business at Molly has a radio program, Your Relationship Answers at

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