It’s like the old saying ‘when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear’, or ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’.
Whatever it is about talking to teenagers, if they are not ready to talk to you, all you will get are one word answers, if you are lucky. How was school, what did you do today, can I help you with that? All questions that can leave you feeling like you are of no interest to your teenager and quite useless often.
So, as parents all we can do is be ready when they do want to talk and attempt to put ourselves (and them) in places that gives them the chance to want to talk. With their faces in their screens these days, it’s hard to complete with all the other influences going on around them.
We went out for diner the other night; my wife & I and our boy. It was just a burger bar and we were only there for an hour or so, I just didn’t feel like cooking. With his phone in his pocket and his iPad at home, he started talking and had plenty to tell us. With a question here and some enquiry a bit later from us, he opened up and told us all sorts of things. It doesn’t matter what they were, it was just good to hear his opinion on stuff.
It was great; simply by being in a place where we could talk without the distractions, enabled him to open up. Of course, as soon as we got in the car to come home, he was on the phone again and at home we hardly saw him for the rest of the night, but for that hour in the restaurant, it was nice to hear him talk about things that mattered to him.
So we didn’t need to say much, we simply listened, like I said, an inquiring question every now and then was all that was needed. There’s a lot to be said about just listening. In that restaurant, it was a simple joy to hear what our son wanted to tell us.
Maybe it’s not about being ready to talk to teenagers; maybe it’s about being there simply to listen to them.