What were your teenage years like?
When you remember do you cringe or smile?
The way you remember your own teen years have a tremendous impact on how you parent your teenager.
This sort of reflection opens you up to empathy and empathy is at the core of successful parenting.
When It’s Hard to Empathize with Your Teen
So often you see that your child could do things differently to make life easier and less painful for herself. As a parent, you can feel impatient or even angry at her for the creating such unnecessary drama. In such moments it’s most difficult to express empathy for her experience.
This impatience and anger will lead you to respond to your teen with judgement. You’re more likely to give instructions on how she should live her life – even if she wasn’t asking for your opinion.
There is no quicker way to shut down a conversation with your teenager than offering unsolicited advice. Even if you’re right.
How to Boost Your Powers of Empathy
Remembering the hard parts of your teenage years will increase your empathy and give you insight into what it might be like for your teen to grow up today.
A lot has changed in a generation, but reflecting back on what you and your friends were going through can give you some important perspective. Also, take a moment to think about what the kid you never talked to was feeling – especially if your daughter has trouble fitting in.
Prepared by these reflections and this sense of empathy, you’ll be more likely to listen to your child’s experience and offer the sympathy that she’s looking for.
Once she feels that you care and understand her without judgement, she will be far more willing to open up and ask for your help.
8 Ways to Make Your Own Teen Experience Relevant
When you think back to high school you may remember a killer chemistry class or Friday night parties after the football games. Here’s a chance to go a little deeper and remember how you really felt and how you looked at the world.
Did you struggle with…?
- (Mis)Understood: Did you feel understood by friends or adults or did you long for someone to really “get” you?
- Identity: Did you find people who you felt you belonged with?
- Passion: Did you find something you loved or were you always bored?
- Friends: Did you get along with people or have a hard time making friends?
- Image: Did you feel confident in your body or how people perceived you?
- Parent conflicts: Did you get along with your parents or did you fight every day?
- Academic struggles: Was it fun to be a student or a was school a drag?
- Authority: Did you have a drive to challenge authority?
Take this one step further: share these stories with a friend or partner. The conversation will trigger even more memories and you’ll grow greater compassion for your daughter’s current challenges.
Use This Insight Right Now
If you are struggling to reconnect with your daughter or want to figure out how to avoid a disconnection with her during her teen years, reflect back on your own experiences.
It’s most important for you to remember what you felt like when the world was new, exciting, and a bit scary.
What was it like when you didn’t have a real understanding of the larger opportunities and mishaps that are possible?
You likely made lots of mistakes or learned from uncomfortable situations to get to where you are today.
Empathy Breeds Respect
It can be really hard to sit back and watch your teen make mistakes that you can see coming from a mile away. But you must respect her learning process and perspective to avoid more arguments and even greater disconnection.
When you can truly get into those teenage shoes again you will be much more successful at talking with your daughter when you are concerned about her choices.
For more guidance about how to improve your relationship with your daughter, consider signing up to receive bi-monthly blog posts from Raising Her With Confidence. You’ll get the support and tips you need to help you maintain a real connection with your child during her teen years.
In full support of your parenting success,
Josie Bohling, MFT