Boy on the beach with his head in his arms

Being a parent to a teenager doesn’t always feel easy; as parents we experience worrying times and when our children choose not to communicate, we feel even more shut out and are desperate for a way into our teenagers’ thoughts and feelings. I often tell teenagers that a parent’s job is to worry, but not knowing what is going on for their child makes it even more difficult.

I have just put the phone down to my own son who is no longer a teenager. We had a lovely chat about what is happening in his life and in my life. He was interested in what I had to say as well as happily telling me about his weekend. It has not always been like this!! There have been times when I was the last person he wanted to talk to; I was the last person he wanted to know anything about his life and when he chose to talk to me it was so often in a rather angry stroppy teenage manner.

I often had to resort to my own experience as a counsellor and not be pushy but let him come to me; not offer solutions but listen; be patient when he was an angry teenager separating from me and learning to find his own way in life; offering him independence as well as always being there for him. I worried not knowing why he seemed withdrawn and had to learn that he would reach out when he needed me. I very often didn’t get it right, but looking back there were plenty of times when I was his person and I was the constant in his life; the one who always supported, comforted, and loved him. The one he came to when things were difficult and he needed parental support.

At Relate West Surrey we see parents and teenagers who are in conflict, and it can be so hard for parents to know where to turn. I hope that some hints on how to communicate better with your teenager will improve your relationship. Always remind yourself that being a parent is hard work; you can only do your best and most teenagers come out the other side as fabulous adolescents.

Christina Powell
BA, PgDip, MA

Surrey Wellbeing Partnership Lead/Relate West Surrey Clinical Supervisor

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