Maybe I would ask one or two questions, but it was with the intent of seeing what advice I could give him. What I was teaching him was how to handle life from my perspective. What I should have been doing was helping him to develop his thinking so he could handle life from his perspective.
Of course our teens need input and advice, but I wasn't giving him the opportunity to ask for it— a lesson for them to learn as well. If I had asked questions like "Have you decided how you are going to handle this situation?" or "What about that made you angry?" or "Why do you think that will work?"—I could have learned more about his thinking and reasoning. I could have asked questions to prompt his thinking and given him the opportunity to ask for my thoughts. He wasn't very receptive to my unsolicited input. If he had asked for it, then maybe he would have wanted to hear what I said.
I was far too quick to become angry at his actions and was not quick to listen and learn what he was thinking. I was far too quick to give him my thinking and to tell him what I would do. I didn't realize then that the message I was sending to him was that he wasn't competent enough to think these things through. I needed to listen, ask questions, and then build him up on how well he could think things through and come up with a solution.
You may ask "But what if he didn't come up with the right or best solution?" Then he would have learned a good lesson, and I could have been there to support him as he worked through that. I could have asked what he learned and encouraged him as he determined how to proceed. Bottom line, I would have been encouraging his thinking processes and teaching him how to use the very intelligent brain God gave him. He, himself, said one of his greatest challenges was thinking how good something sounded, but then he wouldn't consider how wise or smart the idea was before acting. I can't help but think that I contributed to that challenge.
As I began to apply these principles to our conversations, I found that we would have far fewer arguments, and I felt a lot less stress. Why? Because this helped me give the responsibility for his actions to him, rather than take it on myself. I still have a lot of growing to do, but now that he is a young adult, our relationship is much better.
You may disagree with most, if not all, of what they say; however, you will learn far more about them than you would if you were to share why you think they are wrong or how they should think differently. Could you be helping your teen learn how to think through problems and the types of questions to ask themselves? If you, as a parent, listen more and talk less, you may be surprised to see your teen asking for your input and wanting to hear what you have to say.
When Kathy's teenage son started down a path of self destruction, her faith was put to the test. Kathy reached out to others for new knowledge, insights and parenting skills to turn her family around. As a result, she now facilitates parent support groups to share the same support, knowledge and confidence she received that gave her family hope and new direction. Kathy Masculino has a BA in Psychology and is a certified parenting facilitator.