Deciphering the art of effective communication with teenagers is a lively endeavor. I cannot give a navigable road map for how to travel this path so that both your teen succeeds and your parent-teen relationship is maintained. All I can do is share my experiences and how it worked for us.
In my mind, there is a specific relationship change when our children reach "full teen mode." I say that because the actual shift can vary from around 12 to 14 based on their respective personality and situation. But once the transition is made, and the "competition" for their interests and perception begins, adjustments to communication techniques must start in earnest.
We adapted to the teenage dynamic by resetting expectations. We considered communication a relationship cornerstone, and the onset of the teenage years demanded more from us as parents than our girls. And our ability to adjust to the new dynamic was important to our short and long-term relationship. The adjustment was predicated on some fundamental precepts that dictated why and how we managed these volatile years.
I say volatile because the rate of change in their lives is accelerated and the "connectivity" to us as parents begins to widen. The coolness factor of hanging with mom or dad lessens. Conversely, teens actively want to avoid their parents in many instances. Additionally, during these years teens outpace parents in several areas and for multiple reasons. The areas may include how technology factors in day-to-day living, emergence of trends born from their generation and cultural definitions of normal. The reasons include the pace of societal change, the nuances specific to their generation, individual priorities and the naturally sought-after independence. These factors are unique and vast; thus, regardless of how active we as parents are, we do not naturally fit into the younger generation’s world. Herein lies the next challenge - how to enable teenagers to practically realize what we have been teaching when the answers are not black and white?
That question frames the premise of modifying communication approaches as we had to account for the full breadth of the above dynamic. Including both the internal (personally for the teen) and external (relative to family/friends/school) aspects.
And I will give more specific communication tips and techniques in a later post.