I work hard at maintaining an open and honest relationship with my kids. We talk, a lot. We talk about much more than they want to talk about. Sometimes it’s just them listening and me talking, I’m ok with that. Other times they talk and share things that make me proud of what amazing young people they have become. Then there are the times that they tell me things that want to pull them out of public school and turn off our Internet.
Even though we have open communication and I truly believe my kids feel comfortable coming to me if they need anything, I have to be realistic and understand that there are other factors sometimes at play. There are times that I nag my kids, times when we argue about grades, rooms and chores. There are times that I am traveling for work or just busy with a million life things.
This is why I believe every teen needs a person. For my daughter that person just happens to be her nurse practitioner and one of my oldest and dearest friends. A knows that she can go to Vicky directly for help. Whatever that help looks like, I’m ok with that. I would rather my daughter get the support and help she needs, even if that’s not coming from me, than have her feel alone and making decisions without support.
We had a specific conversation about this. It went something like this, “A, if there is ever an instance that you need help making a decision, accessing sexual health services or just someone to talk to and you don’t feel like in that instance I am that person, call or text Vicky. She doesn’t have to tell me and neither do you, but I hope that you will feel that you can come to me. “ Then I told my wonderful friend that she has my full support.
If you have a significant other sit down, right now and talk about who you trust with this very, very important job. Next, sit down with your teen and as them who they would go to (an adult) if they couldn’t talk to you about something. Hopefully you chose the same person. If not you need to take a moment and consider the person they chose. They might not be your first choice, but as long as they are a safe choice they are a good choice. Talk to them, tell them your expectations for your child. One of those expectations can’t be that they share everything your teen tells them with you. What you are looking for is a person of trust. Think about what that word means to you – trust.
Finally, remember what it was like to be a teen. Remember that sometimes there were really tough decisions. Some of those decisions you shared with your parent, some you did not. I have always loved the “Roots and Wings” analogy. Part of giving your teen roots is knowing that you aren’t the only source they have for support and nourishment.