Parents of troubled teens may struggle to talk with their kids about their emotional states. They may feel uncomfortable or their teen may not open up easily. As parents, we may feel confused about why our teen has a difficult time sharing their pain with us. We may question our ability to connect with our teen or may worry that we will be unable to build a strong relationship with our kid. We also might be wondering if we have done something to upset our teen and caused some mistrust in our relationship. We might be perplexed about our child’s ability to open up to a therapist or during a support group with strangers yet they are unable to share things with their parents. We as parents may feel hurt by our teen’s unwillingness or inability to share their inner worlds with us. The relationship between a teenager and parent can be complex and our child may have a variety of reasons why they feel more comfortable opening up to professionals.
Reluctance to Open Up to Parents
Teenagers may have some reservations about opening up to parents and may feel reluctant to speak to their parents about their emotions. We may need to think about things from our child’s perspective to understand what is going on. Here are some of the things that our children may be thinking or feeling, which make them feel reluctant to share with us:
Fear of disappointing us
Our children may feel like they are a disappointment to us when they are troubled.
They may have done some things or engaged in behaviors that have gone against the values or rules that we have tried to instill in them.
They may feel shame that despite our hard work in providing for them, we have caused trouble for them.
Teens may feel like their state of emotional distress is a sign that they may appear ungrateful for the things that we have done for them.
Seeing us as flawless
Our kids may see us as super-heroes, who are strong and able to overcome anything.
They may have a distorted view of us being perfect and feel intimidated to admit that they have flaws or problems.
They do not want to cause us any stress
Our children may also feel overly protective of us and do not want to cause us any stress by sharing the complexities of our lives.
Maybe our kids know that we have struggles of our own and they do not want to burden us with their problems.
They may lack the skills to understand their emotions
Therapy is a means of learning how to appropriately express our emotional states.
While we may feel like our child is opening up to strangers in therapy, they are most likely learning how to open up. They may not yet have the skills needed to speak to us about their emotions.
Overcoming These Obstacles in Communication
We may need to recognize and respect that our kids may not open up to us about everything. They may have complex reasoning and we cannot push them to share everything. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Letting teens know that we are there when they are ready and willing to talk.
This is simple–just letting our kids know that we are available can take the pressure off the situation.
We can allow our teens to come to us when they are ready.
If our kids are in therapy, they may need more time to learn expressive skills to communicate their emotions.
Remind them that we are proud of them and love them.
If our kids are feeling like they may be a disappointment, we might need to say things like “I am proud of you” or “I love you” more often than we may think.
We might need to go out of our way to praise them more frequently when they do something positive.
Share our failures or insecurities.
We can share some stories from our past that show our kids that we also overcame failures or other insecurities.
By being vulnerable, we can appear more like regular flawed people and help our kids feel less intimidated if they view us as perfect.
Connecting with our children can take some work. Kids have a number of reasons why they may feel uncomfortable about speaking with us regarding the intimate details of their lives. We may feel hurt by this or that we have failed as parents if we cannot connect with our kids. Remember that this is not a reflection of our abilities as parents! We can still find ways to bond with our troubled teens or support them in other ways. We may need to back off at times and allow them to come to us when they are ready. Sometimes, by sharing more about our failures, insecurities, or difficulties that we had growing up, we can encourage our kids to feel comfortable sharing more with us.
Parents may struggle to connect with their kids, especially parents of troubled teens. They may feel like they have failed as parents or that they are at fault for their child’s problems. Our kids may have a variety of complex reasons behind not wanting to open up to us. They may also not yet be ready to do so. By reminding our kids that we care about them and that we are here for them when they are ready, we can open up the door for communication on their terms. Being available and willing to listen can have a huge impact on our kids, even if they chose not to share with us. Sometimes, just knowing that someone has our backs or that someone cares about us can go a long way in recovery. Fire Mountain is here to help kids and parents learn how to build happier and healthier homes.
Call us today at (303) 443-3343.