Why won’t your teen listen to you?
They’re walking down a scary path and as a parent you have the perspective to see it’s not going to end well. You’ve tried talked to them and sending them the research to back up your points but it’s all falling on deaf ears.
Not only that, but your teen is also making choices so far outside of the values you’ve raised them under, so the fact they won’t listen is even more frustrating. When you get to the end of your rope, you likely resort to unhealthy relationship tools to gain control and keep your teen safe.
You’re desperate and don’t see another way.
Scientific research shows us there’s ONE key factor in reducing all risky behaviors in teens across the board.
All of my programs are based on the three pillars that build healthy connection, leading to greater trust, respect and influence with your teen (so they want to hear what you have to say!).
1. Emotional Safety
This is the foundation of all of my work. It’s showing your teen that all of their feelings—messy, challenging, loud—are welcome and safe with you. Instead of reacting to your teen’s emotions with judgment or criticism, you’re approaching them with compassion and curiosity.
I’m willing to bet that you didn’t receive this type of support when you were a teenager. You were probably raised in the ‘suck it up buttercup’ generation and told your feelings needed to be “appropriate” and “manageable” for your parents or they would be considered too much, or simply invalid. Because of this, you may not know how to model emotional safety in your own parenting.
It looks like this…your teenager comes home in a huff (because the teen brain is highly reactive and often in fight or flight). You don’t need to jump in and try to fix their problem or shut that mess down. Instead, you simply listen with empathy and show them you aren’t judging them or labeling their emotions as “bad or wrong.” It’s saying to them, “I love you. You and all your emotions are safe here. I will listen and believe you.”
Of course, you need boundaries to help them articulate their emotions effectively, not deny or suppress them.
2. Meaningful Connection
I define meaningful connection as the ability to share my thoughts with someone and not fear that it will put our relationship at risk. In order for this to work, you must first focus on creating emotional safety—these build upon one another.
Any healthy relationship must have room for dissent or disagreement, and if you’re raising a teen, this isn’t a surprise. They need to be right about everything as they develop autonomy and independence! So it’s extra important for you to make clear that no matter how much you may disagree, your relationship with your teen is never at risk and you won’t remove love or affection.
One of the best ways to build influence with your teen is to remember this, and to remind yourself that parenting isn’t about raising a robot who’s going to believe what you believe or value what you value. You can’t punish or discipline your beliefs and values into another person.
Even though your teen may be opinionated and seem to take the opposite position to you because they can, this is a sign of respect and the debate and banter in a safe space is helping their brain develop more complex thinking, critical analysis and large concepts.
3. True Belonging
Human beings are social creatures, and our brains are wired for connection. Deep down, all we really want is to belong somewhere and feel fully welcome for who you are. This is one reason why peer pressure works so well—it provides a counterfeit version of belonging, called “fitting in”, where your teen needs to be/do something other’s deem as valuable to earn approval.
Combating this counterfeit belonging is critical by providing a sense of true belonging in the home. Show your teen that no matter who they are or what they’re interested in, they belong. Celebrate them for all their quirks and differences! When you say to them, “You can bring all of your weirdness with you, and we won’t deny any of it,” that’s fostering a sense of belonging.
This can be hard because sometimes your own insecurities get in the way. If you have a teen who’s really into goth or questioning their identity, you may not get it at all. But it’s so important for you to realize that your job is not to raise people just like you—it’s to celebrate your kids for who they are. It’s to say, “This is my child no matter what. This is the stage they’re in, so I’m going to support them.”
So if your teen is into goth, having a goth night every month where the whole family gets into it together! If your teen is vegan, make an effort to cook with them. If your teen loves computers, have them show you what they’re working on, and show them you’re proud of them. No matter what you personally think about their interests, it’s important to affirm and celebrate their passions as a part of true belonging.
Understanding and incorporating these three concepts into your parenting is game changing. Life changing actually (their words, not mine).
Parents who’ve taken my programs have gotten significant mental health and behavioral challenges more balanced, brought their teen back from substance use and toxic relationships, lowered impulsivity, and participation in dangerous activities, all while building connection, not control.
Now it’s your turn.
Register for my FREE masterclass to learn my 3 pillars for creating an honest, connected relationship that lasts a lifetime, WITHOUT having to be a perfect parent.