You remember when you were a teen, how important your privacy and personal time was. And now as a parent you want to keep lines of communication between yourself and your teen open. However, they may not be very forthcoming with details about their friends, what’s going on at school, or in their life in general, just as you probably weren’t. They want their privacy and personal time the same as you did. So, why is privacy and persona time so important to your teen and how can you honor their privacy and still keep them talking to you?
More than anything, your teen needs to know that you’re on their side. They need to know, no matter how badly they mess up, that you love them and you will do whatever you can to help them. They also need to know they can come to you with any problem and that you’ll listen to what they have to say. If you can convey these thoughts and your teen knows them to be true, half the battle of keeping lines of communication open is already won.
Teens often struggle as they’re coming into their own. They don’t know who they want to be when they “grow up” or how they can contribute. Their hormones are raging and they may not understand why they do the things they do or say the things they say, particularly to their parents. While they’re trying to figure things out, they need you to give them some room.
Try not to intrude on their space. This means don’t enter their room unless they are in there and you have permission to do so. They’re trying to establish a sense of trust with you and need to know you’re not going into their room and going through their things while they’re away. If you want your teen to trust you, start by showing trust toward them.
Of course, if you think your teen is involved in something illegal or dangerous, you may have just cause for invading their space. Your teen will definitely be angry about the invasion of privacy, but that’s a small price to pay if you can keep your teen safe.
Try not to ask too many questions. It seems like you’re trying to pry. And, even though you may simply be curious, they don’t want you to be too nosey. Be careful how you ask questions and let them know you’re available should they want to talk.
Acknowledge there are some topics you’ll want to discuss that aren’t going to be comfortable. If you feel like you need to talk about sex, drugs, or alcohol, you may both feel uncomfortable. Take a deep breath and jump in. Once you start talking things will most likely get easier.
Avoid embarrassing them in front of others. This means you can’t tease them like you’ve been used to doing – and forget about hugging them in front of their friends. If you embarrass them, intentionally or not, they may feel violated and it may break their trust in you.
Encourage their development. Even though it’s hard to watch your teenager grow up and away from you, it’s the natural progression of things. Celebrate the person they’re becoming. Praise them for their independence. Show them you’re proud of them and they’ll be more likely to reward you by letting you into their lives.
Parents are often at a loss of words when it comes to their teenager. Where their preteen was open and shared everything, their teen wants to be left alone. Teens believe their privacy and personal time is important. It’s important to treat them with the same respect you expect of them, and recognizing their need for privacy and personal time is one way to do that.