Sharing with parents is not always easy

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Student reading at tableI have always found it difficult to talk to my parents about my problems. It’s not that I don’t trust them or that I think they won’t understand, it’s more that I feel like I need to sort out the issues I have on my own. Sometimes I feel that the problems surface at inopportune times, so I leave them alone for a while until they accumulate and exceed my brain’s holding capacity. To be specific, these things usually include a bad mark on a test, social pressures, or feeling overwhelmed.

Over the years, my parents have identified when the appropriate time is to intervene and how far to go before drawing the line. I have also found ways to ask them for help. Here are some important things to keep in mind when you want to help your teen:

  • Be casual about it. I discuss things with my parents when they are calm and collected because then they can be my rock.
  • Don’t push too hard for all the details. It’s hard enough to expose our problems. If you notice that your teen is more cranky, sad, or withdrawn than usual, then it might be a good time to check in.

It’s also important to recognize the signs that your teen might be deciding to reach out to you for support and advice. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:

When?

  • In the evening when your teen is tired. This is particularly true during scheduled breaks in activities, like the start of a semester, sports season, or major commitment. This is a typical time when they might express nervousness about the situation or might want to reflect on an accomplishment from the past.
  • I usually have a heart-to-heart with my mom or dad when I’m alone with them in the car. I like the privacy and something about the scenery moving past is calming to me.

How?

  • Give them space to say whatever it is they want. Let your teen get it out of their system and then ask about the specifics of what is bothering them.
  • It may happen at a time when you and your teen are enjoying each other’s company. My brother and I usually share things with our parents during Sunday night dinner. After a few good laughs everyone feels comfortable to talk.

Why?

  • Sometimes I open up with my parents because I can’t with my friends. This usually happens because my friends are going through the same thing I am or they are causing my stress.
  • Your teen may come to you because they are in trouble and don’t know how to fix it. Stay calm and work together to identify possible solutions. There is a big bonus to this approach: if you stay cool this time, it is more likely that they will open up again in the future.

Need some assistance preparing to talk to your teen? Contact Shepell to discover the different ways we offer support. You may also want to enquire about our Parenting Teens resource kit.

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