Most teenagers struggle with communicating with their parents because they are usually on their phones or computers talking to friends. Parents of teenagers usually hear responses like: “Mhm,” or “Sure,” or the teen favorite “Whatever,” or the parents simply get screamed at for butting into their teenager’s business. It is difficult to open lines of communication when the other person refuses to respond. Fortunately, there are some ways to get a teenager to express emotions besides anger.

The first step is to give the adolescent some space. This may appear to be counterproductive, but it is important to question them sparingly. When multiple questions are asked the teenager may feel interrogated and this will only cause them to pull away. It is completely natural to want to know what is going on in your teenager’s life and feel concern for their budding independence. It is important to remember they are struggling and need guidance from their parents.

Teenagers need feedback from a caring adult to help them grow. Never stop offering advice. You need to help your teenager grow into a productive adult. The most important thing about giving advice is to not become upset when your teenager refuses your advice. Your teen remembers what you say to them (not just the bad interactions). Keep on trying to be helpful, but never expect the after-school special of your teenager apologizing and telling you, “You were right.” Most people have a lot of pride and are unable to admit when they were wrong, not just adolescents.

Always be there for your teenager no matter how angry they make you. Someday your teen may come to you to ask serious questions because you have done the hard work of focusing on their needs instead of retaliating with anger when they act out. It will be heartbreaking to find out that your teenager has made a poor decision, but they need to know you will be there for them no matter what happens.

Trust your teenager. Yes, they will make poor decisions, but they will also make very good ones too. It is important to set boundaries and have consequences already in place for negative actions. Make rules with your teen for different situations so they will know what to expect when they rebel. When your teenager feels that you trust them they are more likely to make good decisions.

Try to avoid an argument whenever possible. When you and your teenager disagree, you need to state your position as briefly as possibly. Do your best to see things from their position and explain yourself in a way they will understand. If your 16-year-old wants a brand-new car but you disagree you need to tell them why. Remember that some things are negotiable too because this could also be an opportunity to negotiate and encourage them to look for a job so they may be able to pay for it themselves.

No one has ever said that raising a child is easy. It is hard work to help someone become an adult. Let them know you love them even when they say they hate you. Remember that the teen years are temporary and you both are struggling to find the right path together. When people feel loved and supported there is no telling what good they can accomplish!

If you are struggling to communicate with your teen, there are professionals that can help. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to help your teen please contact me at