One activity that teenagers like to do is to communicate. Mostly with their friends. On Television One recently a teenager was interviewed about a proposed ban on mobile phones in movie theatres while the movie was screening. He stated most emphatically he would not be able to turn his phone off. He believed that if he was not in contact with his friends each hour they would think he had died. Such is their drive to keep constantly in touch with each other.
As their parents, we may sometimes think, that this teenage desire to communicate perhaps doesn’t apply to talking with us. According to Gary Chapman, teenagers do want to talk with us. They need to feel connected and loved by us. For connection to occur in this way it requires that we and our teen spend time together. However just being together doesn’t necessarily result in connection. For us to connect on an emotional level requires communication.
Gary Chapman calls this quality conversation. He says it is dialogue between us and our teen where each is free to share our experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, accepting atmosphere. It requires us to learn to speak “with” our teen rather than “at” our teen. Our heart needs to be open and willing to really listen during this time, and not see it as an opportunity to criticize, teach, correct or give them unasked for advice.