What To Do When They Just Won't Talk
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Advocates for Youth.
So, let's just set the stage. Your son or daughter is entering adolescence or may be fairly launched into that exciting, confusing, exhilarating stage of life. You've had a good, strong relationship. You still do. But … you know you want to keep conversations going about relationships, life goals, and sexuality and suddenly, you're talking, they're not. Maybe they're rolling their eyes, looking past you, shrugging their shoulders. Or, maybe they listen when you talk, but they are silent. What's a parent to do????
First of all, don't panic! It is normal for teens to have their silent times, their stormy times, and their close and conversational times. It may not be on your time schedule, but that's normal, too.
Second, remember that you have been communicating with your teens about sexuality and relationships from the moment they came into your life—whether you've ever actually had a formal conversation about those topics or not. They have been listening, observing your behaviors and your values, through your behaviors, from day one. Over time, they simply absorb much about your values and what you consider important from this process. That may, in itself, give you pause, because no one is perfect and you may remember times when your behaviors have been out of alignment with your values. That's okay. Such times provide opportunities for conversation with your teens, times when you both are talking.
But, back to our original premise: they're not talking. That doesn't mean the end of communication … Here are a dozen tips for ways to keep communicating, even when they won't talk to you. The tips all pretty much fall into the category of using "teachable moments." What's a teachable moment? It's an opportunity that you find to say something brief about sexuality that might affirm a value important to you, or provide accurate information, or express the way you feel about a sexual situation. You can also use a teachable moment to invite your daughter or son to respond, if they want to.
All that fits nicely into an acronym, "FIVE," which can help you to remember the important elements of a teachable moment: Feelings, Information, Values, and Encouragement to continue. "FIVE" is also a nice reminder that you can be effective and brief—like well under five minutes!
Reprinted with the permission of Advocates for Youth.
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