The Communication Challenge: How Parents Can Connect with Teens

Communicating with our teenagers can be challenging at any time. During Covid, with extra familial togetherness, are our words making or breaking our teens?
Known as "America's authority on parenting," Meg Meeker, MD shared tips on connecting with our sons and daughters on Thursday, February 4. Sponsored by the Elizabeth Schickel Foundation, the latest LifeCompass speaker is a best-selling author, pediatrician and host of Parenting Great Kids with Meg Meeker. She offered six strategies to build strong lines of communication and stay -- or get -- connected with teens.

When our children are talking to us, it can be tempting to continue what we were already doing. Dr. Meeker explains that instead, it's important to stop, put down our phones and look them in the eyes. Focusing fully on our daughters and sons will ensure they feel important and valued. What's more, if we train ourselves to listen -- to really listen -- we are likely to see that they will talk. 

Verbal acknowledgement of their good points furthers the good will and connectedness between parent and child. When a teen says something we agree with, we can let her know. Remembering that we as parents cannot and should not always teach is critical to getting teenagers to share more with us. 

While parents often want to handle a problem as it's occurring, Dr. Meeker encourages them to choose the time for an instructive conversation wisely. When all parties are relaxed and quiet, our words are much more likely to have the desired effect. During tense moments, we must remember not to take harsh words personally. When our children lash out at us, it's never actually about us. 

Dr. Meeker's last words of wisdom? "Never, ever give up." She emphasized that no relationship with any teen is ever beyond repair and growth. 

Dr. Meeker is a leading authority on parenting, teens and children's health with more than 30 years of experience and has been featured on the Today show, NPR and Psychology Today. She is the best-selling author of several books including Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters; Strong Mothers, Strong Sons; The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers; and Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture.