“Fine.” What parent of a teen hasn’t heard a dismissive version of this word? It’s frustrating, because you really want to know more, want more insight into their lives. And they are at a time of life when they are pulling away – and think that if they tell you anything, a) you won’t understand and b) you’ll tell them why they’re wrong. So what is a parent to do? Of course, building a relationship with your teen takes time, effort, and energy. It can’t be built instantaneously. But if you start with you – with how you approach and engage with them, by meeting them where they are right now, you can begin to build that connection. Start a conversation with a question. Not “How are you?” - we know that they will just say “Fine.” But something meaningful – to them. Then really listen to their reply. Invite them to elaborate. If you don’t understand the lingo – ask for clarification. If it is their passion, you will see an energy to their speech that maybe you hadn’t seen in a long time. Even if you don’t understand all the nuances of what they are telling you, you can enjoy their enthusiasm. Music that you don’t like? Ask them what they enjoy about it. You might develop a better appreciation for it, even if you still choose not to listen to it. Comics? Maybe there’s more to the story line than you thought. Gaming? What is it that draws them in?
Ditch any judgement of what they are telling you. If you feel yourself prickling at a tone or word, set that aside for now. Right at this moment, your teen needs and deserves your full attention, without criticism. You don’t want them to feel defensive around you – that closes off communication. Discover more about your teen than “Fine.”
If you know someone who is struggling with their teen, considering sharing this blog post with them, and if you know them well you can tease them with the promise that you know in the end everything will be "fine." LOL.