Family Magazine

Is Your Teen Giving You The Silent Treatment

By Joanigeltman @joanigeltman
I was giving a seminar the other night, and one of the parent asked me what to do if your teen literally does not talk to you? She described her situation this way: "he walks in the house, goes to the refrigerator or cabinet, takes his food, brings it up to his room, shuts his door...gone for the night. He seems to be doing OK at school, since his grades seem fine when the report card comes in. Where he goes, what he does when he is not home or at sports seems to be a mystery. What can I do?"
OK if you have a teen who has completely shut down, there is a reason, and I am afraid the reason is not just that he/she is an uncommunicative teenager. Many teens don't sit down with their parents in the family room for long chats about life, but there are meals together, or an occasional meet ups in the kitchen. If your teen literally has cut you out of his/her life there is a more serious problem.
My first suggestion is to take stock of your side of the relationship between you and your teen. Last night I was giving a seminar on stress and teens and asked parents to go home, sit down with their teen and say: "I get your life can get pretty stressful, with school stuff, and sports or drama or your job, and I know your friends are important to you and that takes up a lot of room in your life. Is there anything we are doing that is contributing to your stress. What can we do differently to make your life less stressful?"
This can be a go-to discussion for your alienated teen as well. Something has gotten in the way of your relationship, and it is possible that unknowingly you have said or done something that has turned your teen off to you. You must find our what that is, before you can close the chasm. This is a chance for your teen to "give you a report card." It might be hard to hear, but hear it you must. The hardest part of this conversation is not the hearing but the not responding. Your job is to listen.....period. It is not to defend yourself, or over-explain why you parent him/her the way you do. Your gift is your opening yourself up to feedback. As parents we give "feedback" to our teens all the time. "if you would just .....", or "you never...." or "why can't you......?" Now it is their turn. Sometimes as parents we operate on automatic, using our go-to lectures to get our kids to do what we want them to. But guess what, those lectures go in one ear and out the other, and your teens aren't listening anyway.
So if you have a teen who has shut you out. Let him/her know that you miss them, you love them and that you want to figure out what you might be doing that has changed the way they feel about you. You might hear something that hurts, but honesty in a relationship is good. Honesty can sometimes be painful but it can also be a healer.
Maybe your relationship with your teen is good, but this is still a good conversation to have with your teen, cause it can only get better!

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