Why teens choose not to speak to their parents?

April 13, 2011
posted by Admin

Or to re-phrase the question why do parents always complain about their kids locking themselves in their bedroom for hours and sometimes days with the intention of avoiding them? The lack of contact between parent and teen seems to “kill” parents and make them feel out of control.
From the parent’s perspective, it seems really strange that one decides to conceive/bear a child and feed and care for that child through infancy, toddler years, and elementary school. Worry about that child every day! What they eat, when they sleep, when they become ill, the child’s proper development and ability to learn or not learn in school. Parents worry when they watch their kid hormonally morph into an adolescent, wondering where their “sweet child – nice kid” disappeared. They cannot believe that their once beloved child is indifferent, distant, alien, cold, abrupt, unanswerable, moody and most times downright rude to them.
From the child’s perspective, kids want to catapult themselves through their teen-age years. I often hear kids say: “I just want to skip high school and move onto college, where there is a lot more freedom.” When kids think or speak like this, they are telling us they want to avoid all of the complexities that adolescence has to offer them. For the teen, it is a tremendous amount of emotional work to “know thyself.” Many teens do not want to do this work. They prefer to hide out from their feelings and the demands of these years.
In addition, I have learned that teens have an Adult Code. This code refers to the way that adults (parents) talk down to them, as if adults have all of the answers. The second section to this code is that adults (parents) do not take seriously what their teen son or daughter has to say. Teens feel that their words have little credibility to adults. So, if you think about it, why should a kid speak up? Why take a chance at certain rejection. In short, kids feel boxed in by their parents.
From someone who has worked with kids and their parents for a long time, here are a few observations.
Parents tend to remain rigid in the way they view their growing, developing child. Kids change all of the time. They change from season to season and month to month and week to week. Parents seem to notice the outside changes more readily than changes on the inside of their child. A kid’s belief system and values are being challenged by society every single day. Parents tend not to see this nor do they see the degree to which this is occurring on a daily basis.
Parents forget what it feels like to be teenager. Teen’s feelings are fairly intense and without empathy a teen doesn’t feel understood. Kids stay in their room because they don’t want to be told what to think and how to feel. They are struggling to find their own voice and they don’t want any “tainting” of that process. Fearful parents “taint” in the form of lecture, correction, punishment and the like. Kids look to avoid this.
It comes down to this. Parents need to slowly release their grasp (begin to let go) on their child-teen. If they are too tightly absorbed in their kid’s world, their child teens will not be able to experience the freedom of making mistakes and hopefully learning from them. Without making mistakes, a teen cannot grow and realize who they are. Parents need to reinforce their values primarily through their behavior, not necessarily their words. Kids remember how a parent handles a certain situation and will tend to copy that in the future.
Parents need to acknowledge their own fear of the world and the expectations they place on their kid. This will only lead to confusion for your teen. Give your kid space to think for him/herself. Respect your teen for their maturing growth and developing their own opinion on topics, even if it is opposite to what you may believe. It doesn’t mean that they will think this way forever. View this as a way of your teen finding his/her own voice.


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