Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents. They’re great. But sometimes all parents need a little help in the communication department, you know? There are some things you just shouldn’t say to your teen. After talking to a few friends, I was able to make a list of the things said to us on a daily basis. Hopefully, this will help you be more successful communicating with your teen.
1 | “It’s not that I don’t trust you, but…”
Translation: I don’t trust you.
There’s nothing more annoying than when an adult starts a sentence like this. Seriously. You completely defeat the purpose of saying that you trust your teen. If you don’t trust them, just say that you don’t. If your kid is smart, they’ll go and try to figure out a way to earn your trust so they can finally do stuff. (Which benefits you because it means they’re working hard to earn your trust.)
2 | “Because I said so.”
Translation: I have no real reason to back myself up.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, this argument is pretty weak. If you’re going to tell your teen not to do something, you might as well give them a legitimate reason. It leaves less room for argument and saves a lot of frustration (on both sides) in the long run.
3 | “You’ll understand when you’re older.”
Translation: You are young and therefore dumb.
Your teenager is nearing adulthood. If they’re old enough to learn how to drive or decide what college they’re going to, then they’re probably old enough to have an educated opinion on something. Just because their opinion differs from yours on a certain matter does not mean that they are “immature” or “don’t understand.” It simply means that they have a different opinion.
4 | “When I was your age, I would never have…”
Translation: I was a perfect child at your age.
We all know that this statement is far from true. No matter how close to perfect you were as a child (ha!), you had to have made a mistake somewhere along the way. Maybe you forgot about all the mess-ups or didn’t want to share them with your teen because you don’t want them to make the same mistakes you made. But sometimes they need that human role model, someone who has made mistakes and can relate to them. Sometimes being the perfect parent isn’t necessarily what your kid needs.
5 | “What aren’t you telling me?”
Translation: Are you secretly doing shady drug deals at the park with your friend?
Okay, yes, it’s a good thing to know exactly what your teen is doing, when they’re going out, and who they’re going with. That’s common sense. But there’s a fine line between making sure your kid will be safe and digging for nonexistent skeletons in their messy closet. It’s important to be able to accept your teen’s word as their word. If you can’t do that, then there’s a trust issue there that needs to be fixed – maybe on both ends.
6 | “Are you on your period?
Translation: PMS is the only thing I can think of that explains why you’re acting crazy.
This is definitely not the best thing to say to an angry girl who’s laughing and crying at the same time. (It’s also not the best thing to say to a guy, just to clarify.) You’re better off sitting your teenager down and allowing them to be open about their emotions. Sometimes we all need a good cry and a shoulder to lean on. Maybe some chocolate too.
7 | “Oh, look! We match!”
Translation: I’m cool, right? Please love me.
Matching outfits with your teenager is probably not the best idea, especially if you’re trying to convince them that you can still be “young” and “cool” like they are. (You’re probably better off with sticking to your normal attire when you go out.) Sometimes just listening to your teen and being able to engage in real conversation can boost their image of you.
8 | “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”
Translation: Why aren’t you good enough?
Ouch. The worst thing you can do is compare your teenager to someone else. It makes them doubt and worry that they aren’t good enough for you. Instead of comparing them to another person, why not compare them directly to the desired attribute? It might lessen the sting. For example, “Why can’t you be more responsible?” instead of “Why can’t you be more responsible like your sister?”
9 | “Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.”
Translation: No, I will not buy you that, it’s way too expensive.
If it’s too expensive just say that’s it’s too expensive! Yes, money is hard to come by. The fact has probably been drilled into your teenager’s mind by now. (And if it isn’t, I wish them luck after college.) The old “money doesn’t grow on trees” cliché has definitely reached its expiration date. It’s time to pick a new one.
10 | “What are you always doing up there in your room?”
Translation: I miss you, why do you want to leave me?
It’s perfectly normal for teenagers to want some independence from their families. They see you. Every. Single. Day. It’s okay to let them have a little independence. (There are worse things they could be doing than hanging out in their room.) If you miss spending time with them or think that they’re shutting you out, why not just say so? Sometimes it’s something they’re not even conscious of doing.
Despite all this advice, I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. Your teenager is still a teenager. They’re going to do things that will drive you crazy – and vice versa. But there’s one thing you can say to them that will never fail, and that’s “I love you.”