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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Teen Not Talking to Parents
Our 14 year old girl loves to be alone in her room. She has always been shy, not outgoing, and quiet (in public). She loves to write, and spends loads of time in her room writing-- stories, poems, essays.... She also reads quite a bit. But, with school around the corner, I am worried that she has basically sat on her bed all summer, reading or writing. She did not want to do any camps this year, and does not like to go out alone (we work, and she sits at home. She will not go out walking or anything alone during the day). Her friends have been busy this summer traveling or visiting family, though she has seen several friends during the break (sleep overs, or movies).
I guess my concern is that she is so content to be alone. She does not want to talk to us at all (I have no idea of what she is feeling inside). She will not confide anything about things that happen at school, especially the behavior of her school mates (even when she is not involved. For example, drinking at school, cutting class, and so on. I find out about everything from other sources, not from her). I ask her why she does not tell me these things, and she either says, ''I don't know,'' or ''AHHH, you are so annoying!'' She does not seem unhappy, though she does not seem happy, either.
How do I tell if she is okay? How much of this is normal teen behavior? I know as she starts high school she will encounter things at school and such that she should process with us, or talk about, but she is so silent. I am not worried about her scholastically, but emotionally. Why don't teenagers talk??? confused mama
Help! My soon-to-be 14-year-old son has major attitude with me. I am a single mom. His older sister is not living at home. He sees his dad on the weekends. Everything I say to him, he seems either irritated or indifferent about. He seems like he's always in a bad mood, but only when he's with me. When with friends, at school, etc... he's happy, talkative, etc. The second he gets in the car with me, his mood turns somber. Please tell me this is normal and that he will outgrow it soon. Any advice? My daughter was very different, verbally let me know how she was feeling and talked about her life with me. It hurts my feelings because he was always my sweet, affectionate boy. anonymous
Tell him lovingly and frankly that the two of you have to make it through the next five or more years, and that you want to make those years a time that both of you can look back on and laugh about. Tell him that you need his cooperation to keep your home a happy place for you both to spend time. Tell him that you know the two of you will not always agree, but that even when there are conflicts, you should both remember that you love each other and that you'll be in each other's lives forever.
Ask him if he needs you to change something in your own behavior. Forget tit-for-tat here and do not bring up something that you want HIM to change. The goal here is to make him feel that he can trust you and can talk to you freely without getting jumped on. Listen without reacting if possible, and see if you can come up with a creative compromise that will show him that you are willing to work with him.
Tell him that you love him and are proud of how he's growing up. Find a specific way that he is maturing that you can cite.
Wise advice I once got is that at this age, you are no longer your kids' manager, but should work hard to be ''hired'' by them as a consultant.
Good Luck -- Mom of 14-yr-old boy
Fourteen year-old boys are rotten and evil! (I think my parents wished that I had been ONLY rotten and evil at 14.)
Having once been a VERY troublesome 14 year-old, and having raised a stepson (with some pretty awful baggage that still persists) from 14 through 21, I can easily say that it is a tough time for parents - and for kids. He is discovering new things, new tastes and interests, some of which don't include parents (girls, for one); he wants his freedom; he wants to be in charge; he wants to be treated like an adult. He wants to expand his boundaries, so he is testing them and pushing them. Some of his friends don't have to do the dishes and others don't have to mow the lawn, others have parents who don't make them do homework - so he doesn't want to do ANY of that stuff either.
He has hit that age where he is beginning to realize that he knows everything and you don't. You stupid, ignorant, and cruel just as my parents were when I was 14 - hey, what kind of rotten parent would make their son do his homework or help clean up the kitchen!
His behavior is also an attempt to begin preparing you for his eventual departure from home. As he feels on the verge of manhood, he doesn't know how else to do that. Even though it is far off, the changes he is going through make it feel almost imminent to him. By creating tension, when he does move out, he won't feel as though he's hurting you.
My parents dragged me to counselors which just made me resent them more. As my behavior continued to deteriorate, my mother began to truly believe that she would be visiting me in prison for the rest of her life. Joining the Navy gave her some relief (maybe she thought a military prison would be better?), then becoming a engineer with advanced degrees relieved those fears and eventually filled her with pride.
Luckily, your son will eventually discover that you're not as dumb as he believed, not as mean and insensitive and irrational as he thought. Unfortunately, this often doesn't doesn't happen until he moves out for the first time - then he'll be amazed at how much YOU learn over those next few months. And eventually he'll come understand that what you do, you do for him.
What to do in the meantime? Well, I am not a psychologist, but I think that by giving him space and treating him like an adult, you'll gain some ground. He also wants to - needs to - respect you, so you also have to establish rules, make sure they are clear and achievable, and flexible where possible, and have consequences when they are broken - because they will be. Give him responsibilities - even though he might not want them he wants a sense of accomplishment. Give him praise, but don't patronize. Let him know you love him, but don't appear weak. Negotiate, be willing to trade; reward when things are done well or when he exceeds expectations - especially when he unexpectedly does something great on his own without being asked. He wants love and respect and a sense of belonging.
Don't despair, it will be fine! -Anon
Communication is ''give and take''. There are ways to manage better communication almost instantly by making some specific changes in timing, approach and expectations. Find respectful neutral times and a place in the home when you are least stressed, not when you are most stressed.
To continue to make a change it takes persistence, commitment and willingness to be coached by a professional and make good use of what works. Changing yourself may be even harder than for changes to occur in your teen.
The one thing that is for certain, the way to continue to be the same, and get more of the same is to continue doing exactly what you've been doing.
Children grow out of clothes faster than habits. Children grow up and move out faster than adults change theirs. helped by Family Therapist
So this is not likely to be a time of your lives when parent and child can be buddies. That said, here's what I think:
1. The parent have a right to demand civility. I will not tolerate being called names. I don't have to listen to swear words in my own house or car. I don't have to do favors for someone who's unpleasant.
2. I get to be the adult. I set reasonable expectations and allow natural consequences. I don't have to tolerate illegal activities or support life-changing bad decisions. I get to verify. I have to keep my own temper. I may need to examine my own prejudices. I should pick my fights.
3. The parent has a right to demand that the teen be a good roommate. In our case, that means keeping her own room and pet clean, doing her own laundry, and doing weekly & daily chores. If that were going better, I would also ask her to cook at least one night a week.
4. The parent should be available as a consultant. If your child comes into the room and wants to talk or tell you something, drop everything. Treat everything not dangerous as confidential. Affirm the emotion behind the statement (''That sounds really disappointing.'') If you have any suggestions, frame them as tactfully as possible (''What would happen if you....?''). Better still, ask questions that make the kid think: ''What do you want to happen?'' and ''What can you do about it?'' and ''Is that going to get you what you want?''
5. This too shall pass. Teens need to practice being independent in order to become grown ups. Good luck!
I'm having a horrible time with my 16 year old daughter. She has done nothing but glare, snarl and refuse to speak to me for over a month now.
This started with an increase number of unexcussed absences at school. I responded by cutting off her cell phone (I thought just until she started going back to classes regularly). She responded with even worse attendance (she's missed at least one class a day for almost six weeks now and is failing at least two classes as a result) and has refused to talk to me at all. I'm just gritting my teeth and trying to cope with living with a continuous stream of hatred.
There have been a number of substantial stresses at home, so this problem is not 100% out of the blue. I've suggested counseling, but she became enraged at that idea and took off. I ultimately called the police to help find her that night. Any suggestions? anonymous
I ask you this: 1) take a step back - what is your relationship with her, she is obviously in need of attention and help but does she have an outlet for that (if not you, an aunt or someone)?
2) are the only/most interactions between you two hostile and negative?
My suggestion is this - Discipline w/out ANGER. Give her consequences for her actions, set the expectations clearly (no missing class, or no new clothes or cell, allowance for a SET amount of time, take away again if she re- offends). Tell her when she is capable of making her own decisions she will be allowed to do so, but right now she is not showing that ability.
The part kids hate is the unexpectedness we often impose in our punishments and the LASHING out and BERATING we end up doing out of FEAR and WORRY - they don't see fear and worry as love, they just see/hear the ANGER and ''you don't understand me'' parts.
Then you have to grin and bear her negative behavior and show her you are not affected by it and her escalating that will not affect you either (so it's not beneficial to her to continue it). Your ''matter of fact'' attitude will yield shock and dividends in terms of her NOT knowing how to react. Even the title of your post shows us she is pushing your buttons well - Don't focus on her NOT talking to YOU, Focus on your child having a bad time at making the right decisions.
also, don't let your fear run you ragged - we can drive ourselves nuts sometimes and the kids always think we are overreacting.
Then at all possible times, give her encouragement, point out what she is doing well.
Good luck to you - try meditation, reading good books on meditation and some ''you'' time as well let your love shine thru
My 14 yo son has really pulled away from me in the past year. He doesn't tell me anything that's going on with him. From my view we have a good relationship. He's loving, we have conversations, he's somewhat helpful around the house etc. He and my husband talk. My thoughts were ''I'm glad he's talking to someone. It doesn't have to be me''. Well, last night I realized that what bothered me is not so much that he doesn't talk to me but that my husband doesn't tell me anything. When I asked he said ''It's between me and him''.
Is this right? OF course my son should have his right to privacy and should also know that he can trust his dad with confidentiality. On the other hand, I'm his mother and I feel like I should know what's up with him. This came up when an old teacher of my sons asked us if our son liked girls yet. My answer and my husbands answer were very different. Then my husband said ''He talks to me''. I felt so excluded and annoyed that no info was shared with me. So, what's the right thing? Do I have to just accept that my son chooses to talk to dad and be happy that he is talking to someone he trusts (and I trust)? I never talked to either of my parents so I don't really have any good examples to fall back on. Thanks for any advice on this. feeling left out mom
So maybe it'll help your husband share if you put it in this light and promise not to mention anything to your son that was told in cofidence. anon
the whole experience is somewhat disorienting, but know you are not alone, and that whatever is happening [or not happening] now is likely to change, probably without a lot of warning. it may be hurtful and disorienting to your husband, too, when he and your son go through some more conflicted times -- which will almost certainly happen at some point.
parenting a teen is definitely a team effort, and because of the rocky spots, it helps a lot to take a long view. [this, too, will pass!]
trust and confidentiality are huge issues for teens -- but they are also important for parents. it helps for parents to let each other in on the kinds of things their kids are facing, even if they are not necessarily relating every last detail of what the kids say.
i wish there was some magic roadmap for all of this. i think the truth is that most families struggle with their teens separating, and that finding decent coping strategies as a parent is hard. we had so much responsibility when they were smaller, but also so much control -- those teen years require us to change, sometimes in ways we would rather not.
i loved being the center of my kids' universe, when they were littler! i don't like being left out, and i hate being ''cop-mom,'' even when i know that's necessary. i felt VERY supported as the mom of young kids, and feel far less connected as they are growing into whoever they will be as adults. but it seems important to stay steady when they are going through so much. thankless job, but somebody's got to do it. kathy
I'm a mother of an almost 15 yo son. We've always been close and been able to talk. Now he barely talks to me at home; he's usually elsewhere in the house and I have little sense of what's really going on at school. He does talk to me when we go out together, just the 2 of us.. In the car, we have wonderful conversations, but getting him there is difficult/infrequent. He's a kinesthetic kind of guy and wants to go out when I suggest that we do.Then, we struggle to come up with what to do or where to go. I make suggestions. He doesn't want to do them, though the suggestions are things he likes. He never comes up with something he'd like to do. We're stuck, ready and eager but without a "destination." I know his separation and not wanting to hang out with mom is normal, but I also get the feeling that he's feels abandoned or ignored. Suggestions, comments, experience?
We have not had a meaningful conversation with our 16 year old son (only child) in at least a year. Most of his replies to attempts to converse are annoyed grunts. The words that come out loud and clear are the ones asking for something. And I know that he is capable of talking and laughing out loud because he has extensive rowdy conversations with his friends over the phone. We took him and a friend on a short trip recently and it was the same thing, but from both of them, except between themselves!! He used to be a goofy clown who made us laugh hysterically. Now, at least with us, there's not a sign of that goofiness. I'm not looking for advice here, more just wondering whether this is that "typical teen behavior" and if and when he's going to get over it!! It's draining trying to be loving and supportive when that's the response you get. Responses from parents of boys close to 16 (or those who have been through this and seen it end) would be greatly appreciated.
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