"I am frustrated. Stop saying 'whatever'..."
I have a teenaged son. Lately, he often disagrees with me and even argues with me when I try to talk to him. He doesn’t want to listen to me. Sometimes he just says, “Whatever…” to me and I don’t like that attitude. Ate Anna, there are so many temptations and negative influences out there – drugs, sex, alcohol and gangs. It is important for me to give advice to my son about making good choices in life. But I am having difficulty communicating with him. I am so frustrated. What can I do?
Dear Ate Anna,
As parents, we love our children and want them to have a good future. We don’t want them to mix with the “wrong” crowd or go down the wrong path. That’s why we are so eager to offer our advice and wisdom about life lessons to our children (even though they are not asking for it). We hope to guide them in the direction of becoming responsible adults.
Luis, you are not alone. Parents often experience frustration when trying to talk to their teenaged children. Many immigrant parents continue to use approaches they are familiar with: “You listen to your father/mother!” or “You must do it this way because I said so…” Parents often lecture their children. These communication patterns may no longer work with teenagers, especially in this culture where children are encouraged to think and make decisions independently.
Communicating with teenagers requires lots of patience. Parents need to learn to talk less and listen more. Our teenagers may have different opinions from us about many things. However, if we lecture them or jump in too quickly to offer advice, we create a communication roadblock that can push them away.
Ask your son what he thinks and allow him to express his ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Listen to him and hear what he is saying even if you don’t agree with everything that he says. After listening, acknowledge his feelings and try to understand his point of view. You can say, “I appreciate you sharing your ideas with me. But I have a different opinion than you. Let me share with you what I think.” Make sure you are communicating your beliefs rather than just criticizing his opinions. Very often, if teenagers feel that they are being listened to, they are more willing to continue the conversation. Ate Anna thinks that your son would stop saying, “Whatever…” in your face.
Remember, good communication is a “two-way street” – the communication goes back and forth. Listening is always an important part of good communication that helps build a positive relationship with our children. Our children feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with us when we listen to them. As well, good communication allows us to teach important values to our children, values that can guide them in making responsible decisions.
Sometimes parents feel stressed out and need to reenergize by talking to other parents who are dealing with the same family issues. Ate Anna invites you and other parents to come to “An Evening with Ate Anna” on March 6, 2009 at Juvian’s Restaurant. This is a free event – an evening out for parents with dinner and draws for prizes. For more information or to make a reservation, please see the notice in this issue of Pilipino Express. Hope to see you there!
Ate Anna welcomes your question and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, 2nd floor, 555 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB.R3C OW4 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org