Talking with your teen - Tip #4

Stay in touch every day



4. Stay in touch every day.

If you are not speaking to your child about the everyday things in a comfortable, safe fashion, it will be that much harder for your child to share more serious concerns with you. The best conversations may occur about the serious subjects when you least expect them because your child feels secure.


“One of the best conversations I had with one of my own sons happened while we were gardening together,” says Wendy Bender-Slesinski, owner of Merit Counseling in Pine Bush. “One question leads to another and before you know it, a serious topic has been addressed.”


Spending quality time with your child as he is growing up can make a big difference. “The more time you spend with your teen and the more you are available to them, you increase the odds of having better communication. You may have one of your best discussions while washing the dishes together,” says Variano.


Sometimes a little bit of humor can help a relationship that has dissolved into one-word replies from your teen. Stand-up comedy is not necessary, just enough levity to help smooth out a potentially bumpy road of discussion.


Psychology professor Paul Schwartz says humor is an excellent technique, and Suzan Sussman, parenting coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension, agrees. “Keeping a sense of humor is very important. As a mother of 19- and 15-year-old sons, I have to reach for humor every now and then. When they least expect it, I have shouted out, ‘Hey, did I ever tell you not to smoke cigarettes or do drugs? I don’t want you to be able to say I never told you.’ In one case, my son did tell me about a few of the kids at school who were getting into trouble for both smoking and drug use and we had a more substantial and serious discussion.”


Sharon MacGregor is the mother of two teen boys in Sullivan County.