Every parent, sooner or later, has to face up to the fact that they are no longer the center of their child’s universe, which can easily feel like you’re being excluded altogether. Your little chick will begin developing his feathers and flexing his wings. One very important part of their emerging individuality involves deciding about their lives and what they’re willing to share with their parents.
At this point, the communication habits you’ve been practicing will really start to show their effects. Nobody likes to be interrogated, but being accustomed to open, non-judgmental conversations will make your child much more likely to discuss thorny subjects like bullying and peer pressure with you. If they still refuse to tell you what they’re busy with, with whom they spend their time and where they go to when they’re not with you, you just have to remain calm. Just do what you can to keep communication channels open. This will certainly yield results eventually.
Be Supportive, not Intrusive
Adults need a little time to get a handle on their own perspective and emotions before they’re willing to speak to others about these matters. Children, especially when confronted with a situation outside their experience, are not attuned to this. In any case, you can’t dictate what others should think or feel, even if you’re sure you have all of the answers. If your child is used to you having a relationship that’s open and not pushy, they will eventually come to you with whatever is bothering them, once they know where they stand on the issue.
As they get older, their reasonable expectations as far as their privacy is concerned will grow. Violating these boundaries will almost certainly be seen as a betrayal of trust, and asking too many pointed questions can easily be perceived as prying. Sure, you’ll want to know everything about their inner thoughts and daily lives, but this may not seem all that helpful to them. Allowing them time to define their problems in their own minds before asking for advice is sometimes not only the best approach, but the only possible one.
It’s not always necessary to hit someone on the nose to get their attention. Instead of asking: “Do your friends do drugs?” it might be better to talk about addiction in a more general way. If your child doesn’t want to talk about politics, discuss pizza instead. If you feel that you absolutely have to raise some issue, do so once, and then leave it be instead of nagging them about it.
Preaching your opinions or grilling children on theirs can easily come over as threatening. Having a real conversation instead, including asking about their views and experiences and actually listening to them, allows concerns to be aired in a way that preserves everyone’s psychological space.
It’s a funny quirk of human psychology: people who know they are trusted tend to be trustworthy. Forcing your children to account for their every move is nothing more than an invitation to circumvent your control whenever possible. Allowing them to make their own mistakes from time to time makes it much more likely that they’ll ask for permission or, at least, advice in future.
Trust runs both ways, though. The most powerful parenting tool you possess is simply your example. If you’re consistently late, tend to break promises, lie or act and speak as if your child isn’t important to you, they will soon catch on to the idea that this kind of behavior is acceptable and appropriate. If things reach this point, you’ll have only yourself to blame for your kid not being honest with you. If, by contrast, you demonstrate that you have confidence in their intentions and judgment, if not necessarily the specific decisions they make, they’ll be far more willing to ask for help when they need it.
Involve a Third Party
There can be a number of things that create spaces between parents and their children, one of which is age difference. A child or teen might be hesitant to discuss certain things with a parent of the opposite gender. They may fear punishment for saying the wrong thing, or dislike the idea of their words being held against them at some point in the future.
Teachers, older siblings and other figures in a child’s life can only bridge this gap to a certain extent. It may be wise to offer them a way to talk to somebody under a guarantee of complete confidentiality instead, even if that means you choose to speak with a psychologist online. What is actually said will probably be less important than being able to get whatever is bothering them off their chest. Examine it with the objectivity or with another person’s perspective allowed.
Children don’t always express themselves well, not having had that much experience in talking about their emotions and controversial topics. Anger and embarrassment often have the effect of making them clam up. This is usually just a temporary phase though. By making sure that they see you as available and on their side, you are almost certain to hear about whatever problems are confronting them when they’re ready to tell you.
– Marie Miguel
Marie Miguel is an avid internet researcher. She is fueled by her determination to answer the many questions she hasn’t been able to find the answer to anywhere else. When she finds these answers she likes to spread the knowledge to others seeking help. She is always looking for outlets to share her information, therefore she occasionally has her content published on different websites and blogs. Even though she doesn’t run one for herself she loves contributing to others.