I am lucky that I am really close to my teenagers. Part of it is that we are huge people, so we are literally close. (I’m not kidding. Stink is on his way to being 7 feet. We live in a 1950’s starter with low ceilings. We might have to move in a few years. To a yurt. Or a circus tent.)
The thing is that I’ve learned one powerful tool over the past few years. I mentioned it a while back, but it’s such a bootie saver that I’m repeating it. It goes like this:
#1 Parenting Tool to Save Your Relationship (And head from spinning off its axis like Linda Blair after smelling too much High School Axe)
“Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?”
Then just follow their lead.
Even if you are dying to say something.
Even if you have to super glue your mouth. And then cover that with tape. And cut off your tongue. (Don’t do that last part. You’d never get to enjoy coffee again. That would suck.)
I am telling you, this parental response is like crack for an addict. It just calms everything down.
Still not sure? Think about it: When you’re upset, do you want someone just spouting off their opinion? No, you don’t. If they did, you’d want to punch them in the throat.
Or wash down a Chipolte plate with a large Diet Coke and silently resent them (and hate yourself for being such a wussy).
No, asking before breaking and entering a teenager’s vulnerable emotions is the best course. Every. Single. Time.
Which is why tonight I am typing this a bit defeated. Because not only do I not like listening to other people’s unwelcomed advice, I don’t even take my own.
Come to think about it, you’re not asking for my opinion either, readers! But you’re reading, so I will, unlike how I ever want a date to end with my teenagers, assume consent is implied. (Thanks to Tuskany’s lightning speed text “Is everything okay?” I will clarify the consent reference. It’s from watching One Day at a Time. Such a remarkable series that covers so many issues our teens face – sexual consent notwithstanding. My kids are fine… they are not into dating yet. Thank God.)
Oh, man, being a parent is hard sometimes. Why couldn’t I just be a crystal gem, like my kids’ favorite show of late, and fight virtual demons while morphing with other dysfunctional beings to create life?
Actually, I think that last part is how I ended up with my kids in the first place.
Happily Ticked Off Tip #19: When your teen is upset, try asking “Do you want my opinion or do you just want me to listen?” It’s a game changer and keeps you a safe space for future conversation.