Listening To Teenagers

The time for training children is during their early years. By the time they reach their teens, our job as parents is mainly to stop talking, and start listening.

I'm Dr. James Dobson with Focus on the Family.

My dear friend, Ruth Bell Graham, has some sound advice for mothers and fathers of teenagers. She says that by the time the teen years come around, our sons and daughters know what we expect of them. But what they need most is a sounding board. It can be inconvenient, especially if your teenager is a night owl or if they want to talk to you while you're in the middle of an interesting book, but put the book down.

Stop whatever you're doing. Prop yourself up in bed, even if you have to force your eyes to stay open. Offer your full attention and listen. Don't argue and don't pass judgment. If it's appropriate, ask questions like, "Do you think what you're doing or thinking of doing is wise? Would you want your son or daughter to do it?" Show your interest. Say, "Tell me more," to encourage them to keep talking. Or, rephrase what they're telling you back in their own words. "Is this how it feels?"

Teenagers, you see, have a very low tolerance for unsolicited advice and criticism, and it tends to close them down to further conversation. On the other hand, what a privilege it is to have a teenager who wants to talk, and what an asset for them to have a mother and father who are willing to listen.

This is Dr. James Dobson for Focus on the Family.

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