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  • Writer's pictureAuthor - Angela Nettuno

Don't Look at Your Teens When You Talk to Them

Don’t look at them. It’s as simple as that…

Let’s face it, parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever have! Period! And there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to parent. In addition, the influences our kids face on a daily basis far outweigh the wildest imaginations of our parents. Society, the media, peers, the internet! Wow! That’s a lot to take in! Not to mention the academic pressures of today’s competitive world. Our kids are stressed out and stressed kids can result in bad choices. It’s up to us to guide them while giving them the autonomy to make their own choices and mistakes. You cannot control everything they do, see, hear or everyone they’re around. To make matters worse, middle and high school teachers rarely need or want your help in the classroom and your tweens and teens certainly don’t want you hovering around at social gatherings. So, as a parent, what is your best line of defense?

What works best for my husband and I is this simple rule of thumb…

Keep the lines of communication open AND use every opportunity to instill values!

So back to this eye contact thing… Of course it’s good to look at your kids when you talk to them. It makes them feel heard, valued, respected and wanted…

But, many times it’s better NOT to look at them! Here’s why…

If your family time is sparse and most communications you have are serious talks with eye contact your kids may hesitate to “talk” to you about the everyday, “small stuff!” Some of the best conversations I’ve had with my kids over the years were casual, joking talks in the car with no eye contact! Now that they’re teens and driving on their own these moments are few and far between. Although I sometimes miss them, I’m so glad I made the most of them when I had them… Make them put their phones down or turn off the movies, play music everyone likes, sing, talk, laugh. You’ll be surprised how much they’ll share… It’s amazing!

Another one of my favorite things to do with my teens is playing basketball or throwing the football in the driveway. When my kids ask me to come out and shoot baskets with them, I drop everything. I mean everything! It’s amazing how much my son has shared with me about his life, dreams, friends, school… We rarely look at each other while on the court, just talk and play HORSE. It’s been a saving grace during those awkward stages that all teenage boys go through. My daughter and I love to go to this quaint mountain town about an hour away and just browse, have lunch, etc. We usually grab a mommy daughter day when the boys are busy watching sports. It’s wonderful!

Once you get into this no eye contact, casual conversations, mind set – you’ll be amazed how much your kids will share. The key, however, is family time. If your family is constantly going in different directions or your kids are never home, these opportunities may be infrequent. Every family is different and has different circumstances so you just need to find what works for you. When there’s a will, there’s a way. Talk to your kids in the car, while making breakfast, doing dishes, throwing the football or baseball, while shooting baskets, while fishing, golfing, playing a board game, watching a favorite movie, taking a walk, shopping, grilling, or at the dinner table! When you provide daily opportunities for “small talk” with your teens every conversation presents the opportunity to instill values in a subtle way and they won’t even know you’re doing it! It’s sneaky, but brilliant at the same time! Finally, your days will hold precious, undiscovered moments that you may not have realized you were missing as you make memories that will last a lifetime…

I truly wish you and your family many fun, lighthearted, loving conversations and tons of joy, inspiration, laughter and captivating moments!

Happy parenting…. enjoy the journey…


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