Parents often complain that their teenage children do not talk with them. It gives some assurance to see children turn to us for advice and comfort. When our children decide to turn to someone else to share their issues, it is disconcerting. It is not uncommon for many parents with this struggle to enforce their imposition on their children, further pushing them away. In fact, many even seek help to see how they can get their kids to talk with them again.

The issue is that it really is not up to you to MAKE teenage children talk to you. If you are struggling with this, you have probably been fired by your own child. Your attitude and automatic responses have been considered unfit for the adequate satisfaction of your child’s needs. Teenagers, like all other human beings, have problems. They are the owners of these problems and must learn strategies to solve such issues. We often, mistakenly, assume that during adolescence, teenagers go through a natural process of detachment, where they actively reduce time with parents. However, I have seen sufficient teenagers (sharing a good relationship with their parents) that continue to turn to parents for support throughout their teenage years, to convince myself that this could well be a myth.


So, what can we do to avoid being fired? First, we should let the children deal with their own problems. They own them. Our job is not to hijack their problems and solve them. Our job is to support them to gauge their mental capacity to find solutions. We often end in a trap where we give advice, give solutions, moralise and sometime out rightly take matters in our own hands, robbing our child from the possibility to learn from this experience. Teenagers (and children for that matter) do not need this. In fact, this attitude imparts the message that we do not trust our children and that we devalue their ability to solve problems. Teenagers quickly learn that talking with you creates more anxiety and anguish, and therefore begin to dissociate with you and seek more peer advice. Overcoming this is straightforward, but perhaps not simple. The crucial skill to be learnt is active listening. This means listening without intruding. As a concept it is very useful and people who mastered this skill report refreshing stories of success. However, learning the true form of active listening is tricky. That is why I shall incorporate tips in my next blog to focus totally on it as a subject.


Steve Libreri is a social worker and parent coach within Willingness. He offers parent coaching and social work sessions. He can be contacted on

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