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  • Silvia Farag

Connect With Your Teens Part 1

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Like most parents, I have some wisdom to share with my kids. Maybe I think I have more than I actually do. But they keep me humble and remind me I don’t know everything. "You are not Coptic Oprah, Mom."

So I digress, but I do have a little bit of wisdom that can really help them, based on my own experiences and mistakes. And maybe just maybe someone will listen.

With my teenagers, I have realized that attention spans are limited. We can blame TikTok or Instagram reels but the fact remains, our brains are swamped and our serotonin levels are down. Teen brains are not fully developed yet. So their attention spans are particularly short when it comes to mom's life lessons. Too much at once makes them tune out.

While talking with another mom about the need to abbreviate our speech, she admitted how her oldest daughter told her, “When I need advice, I like going to dad because he’s more concise.”

Ouch. Did I mention how a sense of humor is a must while raising teens? Some call their dads for counsel because they cut to the chase. A wise nugget with perfect timing stays forever etched in the brain.

I’m not saying that moms aren’t quotable and concise, because many are. I tend to fall into that category of quotable nugget and memorable zinger, but I also tend to over talk. We ladies who can drop truth bombs like the queens in Steel Magnolias.

Oftentimes, however, we get too chatty. We unload too much at once, and the gems get lost in the shuffle. I’m certainly prone to this, and that is why I’m working on it. Instead of life dissertations, I aim to be concise.

I also aim to ask fewer but better questions. Nothing will shut a teenager down like an inquisition, and since our time with them is often limited, it’s important to use that time wisely. Talking in shorter spurts ensures that we get heard and gives our teenagers the space to share their personal views.

Make your words count. Engage them in the conversation. Ask them what they think. Ask how they feel about a situation. And trust that you have impact.

Good communicators are clear and concise. They’re also quick to listen. As my kids grow up, I try to take this to heart. I find that when I do listen, I can zone in on thoughts that are relevant to the conversation – and not just what I want to say.

Shorter talks that go well open the door to longer talks. They build credibility and trust. While every family is different, and every parent has different strengths, I encourage moms like me – who like to process life out loud – to notice when their teenagers’ eyes glaze over. When a teenager stops listening, there is usually a reason. Their already taxed brains may be completely tapped out. It may be time for a new approach, one that reduces their mental clutter and gets straight to the point.

Does brevity guarantee that we will become our teenager’s go-to counsel? Of course not. Even if we nail the one-liners, we may not be first in line. The goal, however, is dialogue. Short or long, in passing or at length, a shared language is the intent. Being concise encourages and builds dialogue. It lets our teenagers get a word in edgewise so that the wisdom can flow both ways.

And who knows – in the process of building a shared language, we may deliver a zinger or two. We may hold our own in making memorable, quotable remarks. Timed correctly, it may be a remark that our teenagers always remember, one they can hang their hat on and continue to quote even decades down the road. My kids love to remind me of some of mine as they roll their eyes; “respect running through your veins, the world needs more gentlemen, you teach people how to respect you, you can be 1 second away from a bad decision that will last for life, and (my favorite) your still missing part of your brain!” I have some colorful ones too but I’ll save those for a video post.

Just have the conversations. Especially the difficult ones. No matter how tired you are. That’s usually when they want to talk, when your PJ’s are on and your eyes are about to close. Get up and never stop talking to your kids. When they know they can talk to you about the little things, they will come to you with the big things, God willing.

Silvia Farag, MSW, LSW, PsyD Candidate runs the Christian Center for Counseling and works with adolescent and adult clients in individual, couples & family therapy. Her personal philosophy is that through human connection, we can foster the encouragement needed to take courageous steps toward creating positive change. She uses evidenced based and strengths-based approaches & believes in the inherent ability of everyone to overcome when they are willing to step into their potential. Therapy illuminates the path so the client can make conscious steps towards emotional health. Her attitude is one of respect and acceptance of each client’s individuality, allowing for the creation of a safe, therapeutic space. Silvia serves with Coptic Women Fellowship, an archdiocese ministry focused on enriching, supporting, and strengthening the lives of women, along with the clergy and several accomplished women of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.

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תגובה אחת

20 בדצמ׳ 2023

Nice one G 😄 I need to keep it short and less questions also!

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