Stop Interrogating Your Teenager – Just Dialogue
As a mother, it's normal to want to know what's going on in your child's life. But interrogating your teenager may not be the best option. Find out why.
Interrogating your teenager will only increase the emotional distance between you and make communication more difficult. Here’s why.
You come home from work and your partner starts asking you: How did it go? Did you deliver that project? Was your meeting postponed? Did you go shopping on your way home? It’s overwhelming just to imagine, isn’t it? So why do we subject our children to this kind of questioning?
This is a mistake that many parents make, and it’s understandable. We want to know if our children are okay, if they’re having academic or social difficulties and we want to know the most relevant events of their day. Therefore, we start to question them without taking into account that the time, place and manner in which we do so often aren’t the most appropriate.
This can work when children are young, although it’s still uncommon to get more than a simple and monosyllabic answer out of them. However, once they reach adolescence, if communication continues to consist solely of these types of one-way dynamics, adolescents will refuse to provide information.
Why should you avoid questioning your teenager?
We often forget that our children, besides being children, are also people. When you talk to a co-worker, friend or family member, you don’t resort to questioning or making demands on them. Similarly, if you want communication to flow with your teenager, you must treat them with respect and strive to build a relationship of trust.
By questioning your teen, you’re implying, first of all, that you don’t trust them. You place yourself in a position of superiority that conveys accountability and a desire to exercise control over your child, something that’s generally unacceptable to young people at this age.
So, with this dynamic, all you do is ask questions, demand answers, and force your child to offer them to you. There’s no dialogue, conversation or reciprocity. In fact, the relationship is more like that of a boss and an employee, or a policeman and a suspect, rather than that of two people who love, support and accompany one another.
Your teenager still needs you
Many parents think that interrogation, even if it’s not the best, is the only way to communicate with their children and find out what’s going on in their lives. They claim that since puberty, the young person has become distant, isolated or focused on their friendships. What’s more, they no longer share their private life with their parents.
Indeed, adolescence is a major paradigm shift. The family ceases to be the center of the child’s world and friendships and social circles with their peers acquire a priority role.
However, this doesn’t mean that your adolescent child doesn’t need and want the advice, affection, and support of their parents. Family relationships of affection and trust are very nourishing and necessary throughout life. And this is especially true in a stage as complex and delicate as adolescence.
How do you approach your teenager without interrogating them?
So, the question is, “How can I approach my child without overwhelming him or her with questions?” The key is to strive to forge a loving, harmonious and healthy relationship. It would be great to begin to strengthen the bond from childhood, but it’s never too late to start or change your child’s educational style.
Thus, first of all, you need to always be willing to listen. Sometimes your child will spontaneously want to share their experiences with you or will need your advice. Pay attention at those moments, dedicate your five senses to your child and show them that you’re there for them.
At the same time, make sure you don’t judge or lecture your child when he or she opens up. If they come to you with a problem or a doubt and you scold them for their bad behavior or poor decision making, they’ll shut down and probably avoid communicating with you next time. Advise them, yes, but don’t judge them. Be supportive.
Finally, it’s important that communication be natural and two-way. In other words, open up to your child too. Talk to them about your childhood or about what’s happening in your day-to-day life. Share your experiences and emotions with them so that they feel that it’s something reciprocal and that trust is mutual. This will be very pleasant and enriching for both of you.