Keeping open lines of communication with your children is essential. Did you know that the rate of suicide in the United States is 30 per 100,000 teens?
Since the numbers are so staggering, it’s important to know any secrets your child is keeping.
While suicide is the worst possible outcome, just being a part of their lives and keeping up on their day in and day out activities is essential. If you feel like you don’t know your child anymore, then you are not alone. Many parents feel the same way.
It’s entirely normal for your child to keep secrets.
In fact, they may not want to share anything, and there are some things you don’t want to know. The goal is to keep them talking and build a relationship of trust.
When trust is present, then you will ensure that when things get rocky, they will come to you.
Here are some ways to encourage your children to talk to you more and keep fewer secrets.
1. Come To Your Teen As A Friend
As your child begins to age, your relationship with them is changing. While you are still their parent, it’s important to let them know that you are morphing into a friendship role too.
When your child is older, you will not be the disciplinarian anymore.
You must learn to develop a friendship too. Keep boundaries, and make sure that they know you are still in charge. Part of being a friend means listening to what they have to say without judging.
Take a large “chill pill” and be ready to hear whatever is bothering them. Now, you probably won’t like what they have to say.
However, listen to them, and come up with a solution. If punishment needs to be involved, then you have that right as a parent. However, they will take punishment much better if you keep things on a friendly level.
2. Share About Your Life and Find Common Ground
Think about your friends. One of the reasons why you are friends with them is because they understand you. How beautiful it is to cry on someone’s shoulder when you know they have been through the same things.
Teenage years are hard.
Talk to them about some of your struggles.
Tell them about the times you got in trouble.
Make them feel that they aren’t the only one that has done or thought about doing stupid things. Matters of the heart seem to be what most teens have secrets about.
Tell them about your relationships, triangles, and how difficult the dating years were. Finding that common ground can enhance your relationship.
3. Play Games That Encourage Them To Dish About Their Life
One of the best games we played with our parents was truth or dare. Sure, we loved it because we were forced to do crazy things for a good dare.
Nevertheless, I had no clue that my parents were finding out all sorts of things about us too. Many therapy games can get your child talking.
During one roundtable discussion with our children, we asked our kids to write five things that they wish they could change their home or life.
One of my sons put that he was tired of his dad “tweaking” his ears when he walked by. My spouse had no clue he was upsetting the child.
Apparently, our son was so outraged by it that he often cried. Communication is critical, and playing games and doing family activities can encourage them to tell secrets. My son was a foster child, so it reminded him of abuse he once suffered as they would pull his ears.
My husband was just playing around. Had we not played this game, we would have never known how much it bothered him. Many things come out when you have an open discussion. Be prepared as it may not be what you want to hear.
4. Have Dates With Your Teen
When you have multiple children, one may feel like they get lost in the shuffle. Having a date-night is a beautiful way to connect with your teen. Take them to their favorite restaurant and get a special treat. The movies aren’t such a good place to go for communication.
Encourage date nights with all your children. Make them feel special and like they have your full attention. Life is hectic, but nothing is more important than the happiness and well-being of your child.
Since each child is different, you will need to adjust your tactics. They certainly don’t come with manuals. If you have a challenging time communicating with your teen, and they seem to be shutting you out, just let them know that you are there.
Some children will come to their parents when the time is right, and timing is everything. Remember, they are growing and hormonal. They may not be an open book, but sneaking a peek at a page or two is good enough for most.