Listening is so important between parents and teens because it’s the foundation of family relationships. If family members aren’t listening to each other effectively, it can lead to some serious issues. But if parents and teens are communicating well, this can allow you to help your teen early if something is bothering them, before problems develop.
We asked eight parents and teens to watch some classic scenes about listening from a number of movies and TV shows. Popular entertainment doesn’t always reflect real life, but over the years screenwriters have produced some great examples of both effective and poor communication, so these shows can be a great jumping-off point for reflection.
Here are some things we learnt
- Sometimes, when we’re talking to other people, we can become distracted from the conversation without even noticing. This happens to almost everyone, but when we see that someone else isn’t listening to us, it can feel hurtful. A good tip for re-engaging yourself if you’re noticing that you’re losing focus is to nod or even to repeat back what the other person has said.
- Teens who go to their parents for help may sometimes feel like they’re being judged, or that their parent is just ‘jumping straight to solutions’. The problem here is that the teenager feels like they haven’t had the opportunity to finish saying everything they wanted to say when they went to talk to their parent. A helpful tip here is to ask your teen plenty of open questions before you start talking to them about solutions.
- When someone is in distress, a typical reaction is to try to cheer them up. While someone who is feeling down might appreciate your positive spin on what’s worrying them, they can also feel like their emotions are a burden on you and the other people around them. Again, before you can make someone feel better about a problem, it’s always a good idea to give them enough space to share everything they want to say so that they feel heard.