4 Tips for Approaching Uncomfortable Conversations with Your Teen
I never know what to say.
I don’t seem to say the right thing.
I don’t know if I could handle another blow up from my teen.
I don’t want to hurt them anymore than they are already hurting.
All parents have these thoughts when they are approaching an emotionally unstable teen or adolescent about an uncomfortable topic. We see our teens hurting. We know that what we need to discuss with them will be so uncomfortable for them that they might react in ways we don’t like dealing with. As parents, we aren’t supposed to be intimidated by our children. There are few feelings worse for a parent than feeling the same feelings our teen might be facing, like inadequacy. We tell ourselves stories about what a terrible parent we are because we don’t feel like we can talk to our children or that our children don’t feel like they can talk to us.
Talking is essential for the parent-child relationship. If your teen or adolescent is struggling with an emotional, behavioral, or substance abuse issue, we have to talk to them so we can gauge their mental wellbeing. Otherwise our children flounder, feeling reinforced in their core beliefs of worth and identity.
Before diving into the next awkward conversation with your teen, consider these four tips for setting yourself in the right place and approaching the awkward conversation with confidence.
Use Tools of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a tool that your teen will be learning when they go to treatment. Rooted in spirituality, mindfulness is now considered a scientifically evidence-based practice, proven to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. Core to the practice of mindfulness are tools of noticing, paying attention, becoming aware, and doing all three non-judgmentally. Rather than judge yourself for your insecurities, try noticing instead what exactly your insecurities are about your ability to approach your teen. Pay attention to where you might feel the fear in your body, the racing of your heart, maybe the clenching of your muscles. As you become more aware of your reactions, take deep breaths to release the tension. Stress management through mindfulness will become a critical tool for your child’s recovery and their own stress management.
Connect to Compassion
Just as you are experiencing this debilitating insecurity and fear now, your child is also struggling. Whatever they are going through psychologically, it is something happening within them, out of their current control. They have not yet learned what it is or how to cope with it effectively yet. In this practice, in this moment, you are experiencing healthy coping. You can find compassion for the fact that your child is struggling, unable to cope, and doing the best they can with what they have at this exact moment. Remove yourself from the equation and remember, your child’s mental health conditions aren’t personal offenses.
Break the barrier
After a few more deep breaths and self-pep talk, focus all of your energy into love. At the end of the day, at the end of the conversation, everything you do for your child is out of a deep, passionate love for them. With that in mind, break the barrier of tension and approach your child with a loving energy and compassionate mindset, seeking understanding for their experience.
We see the family heal everyday. Our personal family journey of addiction and recovery is what inspired us to build Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center for adolescent males needing residential treatment. We have created a unique program of care for young men to build a positive foundation and cleanse their life from addiction through healing therapy. For information, call us today: 662-598-4214.