Listening To Your Teens During Troubled Times
How are your teens doing these days? Are they doing ok with the pandemic? I mean the race riots….No, I mean the protests, or the civil unrest, the debate on wearing masks, the political circus, the racial tensions, defunded police departments…. Are they doing ok with losing Aunt Jemima pancakes, Uncle Bens rice and Eskimo pies?
Do they slap labels on you because you’re, well, ya know…old? Are you getting frustrated? Cuz I sure as heck am. This is one tough time to raise teenagers. Especially vocal, outspoken and opiniated teenagers, which includes, I guess, pretty much all of them. My goodness they’re fired up.
I actually went to dinner at my daughters apartment the other day and as I sat down, I started a conversation by asking a simple, unassuming question about the police and my daughter instantly raised her hand and politely said, “Nope, not going there!” But, but, but… “Nope.” The hand came up again.
Unfortunately, there’s really not a whole lot to talk about that doesn’t involve current events nowadays. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day, so I talked about that for a minute, but it sure got me thinking. I bet families all across America are at war with each other. I bet there are parents who are afraid to bring up certain topics because of the inevitable screamfest that will ensue. And I think that’s so incredibly sad.
Ok. Our teens want change. The world needs change. I get it. But how are they going to get anything done if they can’t even talk to their parents? How can we, the parents, talk to our teens about these sensitive issues? Well, I have a suggestion…don’t.
Don’t talk. Just LISTEN. Your teens may be getting their voice for the first time. This may be the first time they have ever felt so empowered. All of a sudden, they are one of thousands. They are part of a movement, whichever one they choose (there are so many things going on right now, it’s hard to keep everything straight).
It doesn’t matter which side you’re on. You don’t have to convince them that you’re right and they’re wrong. In fact, I’d almost say you’re probably not going to convince them, so keeping the peace might be more important right now. Hear them out. Listen to what they are saying. Let them go to peaceful protests and then listen to what they have to say about it.
And as you listen, pay attention and look for clues that may point to a hidden passion that your teen didn’t even know he or she had yet. You just might help them think of a career path that they never would have considered before the world blew up.
Honestly, none of us know how to handle what’s going on right now. We’re all learning and adjusting together. The worst possible thing that could happen to our country would be the destruction of our families because of unchecked anger and heated opinions. As the adult in the family, be the voice of reason. Try to keep the conversations light and listen, listen, listen!
The events happening in our country right now have the potential to be historic. Who are we to deny our teens the opportunity to participate? I, for one, want my kids to be part of the solution, not the problem, so I will encourage them to peacefully pursue what is morally just and right. I hope you will do the same!