Q. My daughter is 16, and we’ve always been very close in the past. But now, I can hardly get her to say one sentence to me. I want her to have her space and independence, but I also want to know what’s going on in her life. How can I get my teen to TALK to me?
A. Give her time. Give her space and most importantly, have your listening ears ready. She is going to want to talk, so be the best listener in her life. It is age appropriate for her to be pulling away. She is “trying on” differently personalities independent of her parents. Let her try each one on and see how it feels. Don’t push, but be there for her and she will come back to talk.
—Devonne Carter is a clinical social worker in private practie in Edmond. 405-326-3923, www.carterscounseling.com.
A. Adolescence can be a difficult time for both parent and teen, as the adolescent is finding his or her own identity. I have heard teens will not really listen to parents unless the parents have the teen’s trust and respect. Earning respect can be difficult if the teen doesn’t feel like she is heard. Teens watch and listen to parents more than they likely realize. Often a parent will tell their child to be honest, for example, then do something disingenuous like not be 100% honest on their taxes. This inconsistency makes it difficult for a teen to respect their parents, leading to stonewalling when the parent wants more than a “fine” when asked how they are doing.
—Kevin Tutty is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. 405-431-6225.
Our Readers Respond:
- Do something together that is girly, like get your nails or hair done. Bring one of her friends and engage them in conversation.
- Get a journal to write notes to her. Leave it on her nightstand with a letter to her from time to time. If, she decides to write back, great! If not, that’s okay, too.
- Tell her that you love her every day and let her know that you are always there for her. Plan times with just the two of you. She needs growth, but she also needs her mom.
Thanks to Chrtina D., Lori Ann G. and Traci J. for your feedback!
Q. How can I help my two teenagers to understand that there is not an endless supply of money in our bank account? I feel like I am constantly fending off requests to buy this, buy that…how can I help them to understand that money does not grow on trees?
A. As parents, we have the awesome responsibility and privilege to teach our young people how to be responsible adults. This lesson goes hand in hand with the ability to manage and appreciate money and a budget. I encourage parents to develop a system within their homes of an allowance for young people as a return for doing chores. It serves as a great way to offer incentive for quality work, and it also opens the door for them to learn how to better manage money. Allow your young person to spend this money on things they want or anticipate needing, above and beyond what you provide. There will be consequences for every purchase as they recognize that there often is a limit to the money they have versus what they have to spend it on.
—Donnie Van Curen, M.A., LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist with Counseling 1820, LLC. 405-823-4302, www.counseling1820.com.
A. Let them earn their own money. You can give them an allowance or you can pay them to do chores. Tell them this designated money is their spending money. When the money is gone for the designated time period, it is gone. Do not give them any more. They will then learn to budget on their own.
Our Readers Respond:
- Get them involved in the family budget, have them help you pay the bills so they can see where the money goes and why it has to go there. Make them do chores to earn their own spending money.
- Say “Yes, you can have some money when you find a job.” or “Yes, you can have some extra cash when you _________.” They will have to become responsible at some point for providing for themselves, so let them be responsible now. We have to teach them the value of staying within budget, saving money, and working in order to get what we would like.
Thanks to Kami M. and Erica I. for your feedback!
Q. My daughter is 10 and we haven’t had “the talk” yet. Is this the appropriate age to discuss “the birds and the bees”? What’s the best way to talk to her about sex?
A. A key indicator of the need for “the talk” is often in the questions or conversations you observe in your child. If the subject is not coming up with your ten year old it might not be necessary at this time. When discussing this subject, I encourage all parents to be specific and honest, but also talking with regard to the audience. A talk with a ten year old should be different than with a thirteen year old. Be prepared to answer questions and to only offer information as needed and requested. You may find this talk to be very simple and quick at first, with future more in depth talks to follow.
—Donnie Van Curen
A. Although there is no magic age for having “the talk,” it is probably best do it by age 10 or shortly after. If you notice that your child is starting to show signs of maturity before then, or they start asking questions, it may need to be addressed even earlier. Kids can learn so much through their friends and media, it is better that they get the information that you want them to have from you. There are many helpful resources online that will give you the confidence to answer your child’s questions and give her the information she needs. There are also helpful ideas about how much to tell and when. I think it is important to convey to your child that growing up is a natural part of life and nothing to be embarrassed about. The more comfortable you are, the more likely the lines of communication will be open between you in the years to come.
—Lanet Clark is a metro area school counselor.
Our Readers Respond
- There’s a great series of books that start with a book called “It’s Not the Stork.” I love them because they talk about all types of things from families to bodies to sex in kid-friendly, matter-of-fact ways.
- You want it to be an ongoing conversation. Because, let’s face it, a 10 year old does need to know some things, but certainly not everything. So, approach it casually—with humor, if possible.
Thanks to Melissa M & Gayleen R. for your feedback!