Strengthen Family Communication
In many ways you and your teen are already experts. You are the expert on your family’s unique values, beliefs, and surroundings. Your teen is the expert on his needs, desires, and goals. We encourage you to use your expert knowledge, in addition to the advice we offer to strengthen family communication.
We hope to support you to raise a happy, healthy, and successful teen who will thrive as an adult. The advice we provide is based on the best research available. However, your circumstances will determine how you use our information in your interactions with your teen. For instance, your cultural, religious, or family identity, the community you live in, the resources you have access to, and broader issues in society, can all shape your parenting experiences. Consider drawing influence from your family’s cultural or religious values. These values can be assets that solidify your relationship with your teen.
We know from years and years of research that a parenting style where you balance appropriate levels of warmth, support, monitoring, and control will help you raise a young person poised to be his or her best self. However, finding the correct balance is up to you. How will you show your teen you love and support him unconditionally? You know what makes him smile from ear to ear and what makes him say “Eww Mom!” (or, “Dad stop!”). How will you react when your teen makes a mistake? You know what the situation is. Maybe you can use it as a learning opportunity. Maybe some clear, firm, guidance is necessary. What do you need to do to help your teen be safe? You know what specific challenges in your neighborhood or your child’s peer group may be.
You Have the Answers
These are hard questions! But you already have many of the answers. We’re here to support you in your journey as a parent. Remember these important points as you work towards strengthening family communication.
- There’s no doubt that your teen needs your unwavering warmth, support, and love. Our love is most protective for our teens when they know they are loved. How you show love to your teen is up to you because you know best how they respond to your actions. Show it with words, an email, a hug, an emoji, a kind smile and a pat on the back. Just make sure they know you are a stable, loving presence in their life.
- There’s no doubt when you set rules or discipline your teen they must know it’s done to protect their well-being and keep them safe. What safety means is different in every community, so the amount of monitoring and type of rules you use must be appropriate for your surroundings. If they do not know why rules are in place, they will feel controlled and may refuse to follow them. Talk to your teen. Explain why you have made a rule or disciplined them.
- There’s no doubt that your child will look to you for help in figuring out what values are most important to him and what integrity looks and feels like in his daily life. However, there are different elements to these values. We cannot define exactly what these values are for your family. We can say that it includes resisting impulses to participate in unsafe behaviors, but we do not know how impulsive your child is or what he will be tempted by. Your knowledge about him will help you determine how firm you need to be with him. We know that morality includes doing good in society as well, but you know what is most needed in your community, and how your teen is best suited to contribute.