When I think about my adolescence, I think about the relationship I had with my parents. I remember the fights, the tears and the “I hate you’s” but mostly I’m struck by how amazing my relationship, especially with my mother was after we started communicating better. Talking to my parents was a huge factor in my growing up. I strongly believe that parents need to listen to their children in order to have a good relationship with them.
The most important thing to consider when listening to teens talk is that even though you might be surprised by many of the things they talk about, it’s ok to be shocked but also to let them know that it’s ok to experiment and that it’s ok to tell you about it (sometimes). Let kids know that experimenting—just a little bit—is okay. Let your kids know that if they ever need a ride home then they should call. It’s uncomfortable to feel the need to call your parents but the closer you are to your kids, the more likely they are to call.
One reason kids act out is because they like the thrill of knowing their parents disapprove. All through high school I had a midnight curfew, and my parents were never willing to rethink and make that curfew later, every night was a constant fight about making that curfew later, and all through high school I would come in at midnight call my moms cell phone, so that if she looked at her phone she would know I was home, go down to my room (which is on a separate, lower floor that my parents) and jump over the downstairs balcony, and stay out until four am. Finally with one month left of my senior year my mother said to me after yet another fight that on June 3 (the day of my graduation) ‘you can stay out as late as you want, I wont call you, I wont bug you.’ That last month was impossible to stay in line and not sneak out, but I knew if I did get caught sneaking out I would never have no curfew, finally that date rolled around, I left my house at 10pm, with a giant smile on my face, knowing that I wouldn’t have to sneak out ever again, and didn’t return home until 4am. One week later the thrill was gone and the thought of staying out that late sent shivers down my spine. Knowing my parents trusted me and didn’t care when I came home made me not want to rebel against them. It’s the novelty of knowing you aren’t supposed to do something that makes rebelling so fun.
In my experience the more I talked to my mom, called her, spent time with her the more I felt she trusted me. Parents need to trust their kids. Unless they give you a reason not to trust them, go ahead. What’s the worst that can happen? One part of kids knowing their parents care is that they won’t want to upset you; they will seriously consider their actions before making any wrong decisions.
When I told my mother about wanting to write about how I strongly I believe that parents need to listen to their children, she actually laughed. She said that she has always listened, but it wasn’t until I got to college did I realize how well she actually listened. I know my mom completely trusts me, and with that I know I am able to tell her about my experiences, about people I know, boys I meet and parties I go to. People I know who don’t have good relationships with their parents are constantly at battle and rebelling against their parents solely because “they don’t listen,” or “their to strict” I have a friend whose mom asked me the other day if I had a curfew, when I told her no, she responded by saying “does your mother take valium?” She then told my friend that she needed to be home by 3 which was followed by a fight and my friend complaining about how unfair her mom is. When her mom called me at five am asking where her daughter was, I laughed because I knew Heather was exhausted and went home at the same time I did. But the next day she told me she just wanted to make her mom mad. When a parent doesn’t listen the kid just wants to make them mad, they just want to rebel that much more.
Kids need to know that their parents love them and accept them for who they are. The more you listen the more they will realize it. In the crazy time of adolescence everyone needs someone who they know won’t judge them, no matter what happens. Kids need parents who will listen, not preach about what they can and cannot do. Listen, no matter how crazy they drive you, no matter how much you don’t want to hear it, listen.
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