Parent/Teen Communication Tips

What’s the most important thing holding a parent/child relationship together?  Communication.  One of the most misunderstood relationships is between parents and their teens.  After teaching communication skills for over 10yrs and having had two teens myself, I have some tips I’d like to offer exclusively to my subscribers.  These tips aren’t even in an Art of Eloquence communication study…YET!  ;D  My prayer is that these tips will allow you and your teens to develop a close, unshakable relationship that will carry parents through their adulthood.   

I have several tips for parents because God gave our children to our charge so it’s ultimately our responsibility.  However, I have a few tips for the teens as well because, as children grow, they are to take on some of the responsibility of the relationship.  Share this with them. 

1. Quality time is a myth so be available for your children
Find time each week with each child, even if it’s just one small activity.  Make time for their interests and talk with them about their interests, fears, hopes, dreams, likes and dislikes.  Start conversations with them about things you find important for them to know.  Get to know the times when your teen would be most likely to want to chat with you and make time on a regular basis.  If your child is a morning person and you are up that early, make time to discuss things with them.  Let it be their time with mom or dad.  If your child is a night owl, make time before bedtime. 

If you don’t know what your child’s favorite music, tv show, subject in school or what he currently thinks he wants to do with his life, you don’t spend enough time with him.  Make a change. 

2. Make sure your kids know you’re listening
No matter how busy a mom or dad you are, if your teen is trying to talk to you, please make the time to listen without the distractions of cooking or watching the news while you do.  Give them your undivided attention or tell them you’ll finish up and join them for a talk.  Listen to what they are saying, even if you don’t agree with them.  Hear them out before you reply.  Don’t immediately go into lecture mode.  This is why teens often say they don’t want to listen to parents.  Instead of talking at them (lecturing), talk with them. 

3. Show respect and grace so they’ll want to listen to you
Don’t go on the offensive or attack their arguments.  Don’t accuse.  Show that you’re genuinely interested in their thoughts and they’ll be more apt to listen to yours.  You’re the adult so don’t try to be their friend, but don’t be afraid to state your reasons as you explain how you feel.  Anger and defensiveness can often erect a stone wall between you and your teens so be as respectful as you would any adult you’d talk to.  Don’t spend your time trying to argue who’s right, but share what you think.  In a work environment, two adults can disagree, but the bosses opinion often prevails.  So it is with parents and teens.  Don’t criticize or blurt out things that may be taken as hurtful. 

4. Your teens are watching your example
How you deal with anger, frustration, problem solving or feelings will show them how to handle them in the future. 

5. Don’t make idle threats your teens know you won’t go through with. 
I’ve heard parents tell their children that they’d ground them for life if they went to that party or throw out all their toys if they yelled.  Even young kids are pretty bright. They can tell when you’re bluffing.  If they come to expect you to bluff you way through an encounter, you’re threats mean nothing. Teens are even more clever.  They’ll take full advantage of your idle threats and, furthermore, they’ll come to disrespect more of what you say. 

1. Honor your father and your mother
The Bible tells us to honor our father and mother.  Instead of arguing with them, make requests and listen to their wisdom. They love you and want to keep you safe.  Though it may seem this way at times, they don’t exist simply to spoil all your fun. They have an ulterior motive, your safety. 

2. Try to anticipate your parents’ concern
If you want a later curfew, try to understand that they might be concerned about your safety.  Speak to why they don’t need to be concerned, not why Mary’s parents let her do it or how they are raining on your parade. 

3. Make “I” statements.
Explain your concerns by saying things such as “I feel you’re not being fair.” Or, “I feel like you’re not listening to my side.” Avoid “you” statements, such as “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Parents and teens can have a blessed relationship. I pray that these tips will help your family grow closer. 


JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer. Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula. You can also find JoJo on web sites such as and For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit

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