As a father of two teenage daughters (15 and 17) I have continually heard the comment that goes something along the lines of “Whoa, that’s a tough age. I guess you’ll get to talk to them again in six years!”

I have also run into numerous dads (moms too) that say, “Yeah, my kids don’t even want to be around me these days. They are so into their friends.”

The first comment is a myth. The second is a cop out.

Granted, teenagers want their independence, but they still want their parents in their lives. More on this later.

What I believe happens is that parents get intimidated and busy and stop taking the time to ask children simple, conversational questions about their lives.

Nothing can be more intimidating than walking into a room of seven teenagers talking about music or anything, and feeling completely outnumbered, out-cultured, and out of sorts. It is easier to walk away than say, “What’s going on?” It is easier to walk away than ask that new pimply-faced boy you haven’t seen before, “Where do you go to school? “How are the grades going? Where did you go to middle school?” This starts the dialogue. Walk into the teenage fray we must. Take a deep breath, walk in, and ask away!

Let’s face it: we parents are human beings too. And half the time these kid’s parents have stopped talking to them and their teachers are basically time police. You may be the first adult who has asked them a considered question in the last month. People, even teenagers, love to talk about themselves. So if you give them half a chance they will. You can become an oasis of freedom to talk about themselves. This goes for your own children as well. It doesn’t have to be an interrogation. Just a question about school, about a friend, about music. You don’t have to be cool or “in the know.” “Who is that group? Are they popular?” You don’t have to know that Eminem is back with Kim. The key, I believe, is to not give up on the initial push back – or non-push back in the case of teenagers. They won’t be forthcoming. They won’t answer. They may shrug and say “Oh, nothing.” But believe me they want to talk. They are dying to talk. Even if they don’t.

Some how to’s:

1. Be the house they can come to. Let kids gather at your house. Anytime.

2. Food. Have lots of food. Kids (especially boys) love food. Don’t take, “I’m not hungry,” for an answer. Teenagers are always hungry. Food is the lubricant for talk.

3. Don’t be judgmental. I am not saying to let them have drugs in your house. But don’t let the disapproval of a little tattoo or funky hair on your kids friends show on your face.

4. In and out. Don’t hover. Come in, ask a few questions. Then get out. Let them breath.

5. Rules are OK. I like to keep them reciprocal. I respect you. You respect me is my favorite. I don’t talk to you that way, you don’t talk to me that way.

One last word on kids wanting you in their lives: Have you ever met a thirty year old that said, “I sure wish my parents hadn’t been in my life when I was a teenager.” I haven’t. Mostly we hear the opposite. Kids might be confused, they might even be angry. They may even be embarrassed by you – but then again everyone’s parents are an embarrassment. But, you are like the old best friend that you haven’t seen in ten years. Even though they would never tell you, your kids want to see you and most importantly, talk to you.

“Teens Don’t Like Adults” is a Myth. Don’t buy into it.

For more assistance on dad teen relations, please visit: http://www.greatdad.com
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