Thursday, February 18, 2010

When Your Teen Won't Talk

When your teen won't talk, Randy Rolfe, parenting expert, asserts that they are either too busy, tired, hungry, thirsty, or afraid. First do your best to see the basic physical needs are being addressed. Then consider if they could be, from past experience, afraid you won't listen or you will judge them or lecture them. The quickest way to overcome the impass is to ask absolutely nothing of them. Instead propose you do something together which they will enjoy. Randy had a client whose 20 year old son had left his father to live with his mother and didn't want to talk with her at all - just hoped the rules would be more lenient than with dad, which they were. She did lots of nice things to please him like making breakfast, washing clothes, being quiet while he was studying. But no conversation was forthcoming. At Randy's suggestion, she invited him to go out for a meal and then a movie. He baulked at first, but she insisted she just wanted to spend some time with him since soon he would be off on his own. She suggested he pick the restaurant and the movie, which he did. She did not inquire about anything in his life, just spoke about what they were experiencing together there and then at dinner and the movie. She reported that it was very pleasant, but he still wasn't forthcoming at that time. But then the next day, he sat down for breakfast, thanked her for preparing it, and asked her advice about something at college! She was astounded and delighted. Their relationship was easier from then on.

Randy's book The Seven Secrets of Successful Parents has many useful illustrations like this one.

Randy's take home tip. Parents need to remember that just being there, especially on the teen's terms, is the most powerful expression of your acceptance of them just as they are. When they feel that support, they are empowered to become more!

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