TELL THEM HOW YOU FEEL
Being the parent of a teenager can mean swinging between hope and despair. One moment, everything seems to be fine and you can trust your child, and the next, you suddenly feel uncertain or disappointed in them. That’s completely normal, but not talking about it is a problem. Silence can be a major barrier to a close relationship and can create suspicion on the part of both the child and the adult.
My parents can always tell if I'm lying, so there's no point in even trying.
Dennis, aged 15, Örebro
If your child tells you something spontaneously, it’s probably true. If you have to drag the information out of them, you’ll get a censored version. If you’ve encouraged your child to feel safe in telling you anything and assured them that you’re there to listen, you’re laying the best possible foundations for getting straight answers.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCT
You can usually tell when something’s not right. Talk to your child if you have doubts about whether something is true and find out more. Sure, there’s a risk that you child will be angry with you. But if you are honest and explain why you are asking and want to understand what’s happening – you are creating the right conditions for a good and honest conversation. And if it doesn’t go as well as you hoped, you’ve at least been transparent about your feelings.
ACCEPT THAT YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO KNOW EVERYTHING
Many parents want full insight into their teenagers’ lives, but being told everything is a lot to ask. Teenagers need to be allowed to keep some things private. The important thing is that they feel that they can tell you an uncomfortable truth without being judged or yelled at.