Nine out of ten kids, whom I have had the privilege of coaching, feared or were hesitant on sharing their feelings or attempting to bring up issues/hurts with their parents. This inability to address feelings, hurts, and issues contributed heavily to their hiding out in their rooms and also their explosiveness with their parents, as they grew older.
I recently witnessed this cycle with my 14 year old son who is struggling with negative core values and had some unresolved hurts with us. Paul was given the freedom to share those hurts one evening and more poured out than I anticipated even though I teach this day in and day out. Apologies were issued, which helped diffuse some of the emotional storm that was churning within him. His dyslexia, recent suicides of friends, and other issues led to his being even more sensitive than usual to things my wife and I had said to him.
When our kids fear that we will not listen, not understand, minimize their perspective, or be defensive with their feelings/hurts/issues they bottle up the feelings inside. This can cause them to hide in their rooms as they seek to avoid more issues and hurts. As their feelings gather, a storm builds within. It is much like an actual storm front. It begins with a temperature change produces clouds that thicken, darken. and expand until a brilliant flash of lightning and rolling clap of thunder explodes onto the scene.
Some of us may have felt a temperature change with our kids and even asked some questions, but their fears often prevent kids from opening up and being completely honest. I have found that their hurts often stem from messages we sent trying to help, encourage, or prevent them from making bad decisions, that they interpret very differently than we intended.
Unfortunately, if not intentionally altered and discussed with our kids, it leads to ages seven-eighteen year olds hiding their feelings and not expressing issues they have with their parents. When this occurs the issues build within until they are unable to handle more resulting in shut down, defensiveness or eruptions. My research concluded that it is this reality that frequently leads to a breakdown in parent child relationship that our society has deemed inevitable with adolescents. This breakdown is avoidable!
We can alter our approach prior to adolescence by opening the lines of communication and learn to respect our kids’ perspectives, feelings, and issues. When this is applied, we can avoid the buildup within our kids that results in behavior and motivation issues that cause so much frustration for parents in the adolescent years. In far too many families this stormy season lasts until their kids are out of the house. Then they are able to experience some distance to break the cycle, grow, and begin to interact with us as their parents, on a more peer-to-peer level. I know we do not want to wait until then.
Adolescence does not have to be a stormy time. It can be an amazing time where we talk openly and learn from each other. This builds deeper, stronger relationships with our kids. This effort will pay huge dividends in their lives as they leave our homes, enter relationships, and seek to build their own families.
To learn how to change your approach as your kids turn six and move into the preteen and teen years, join Revive Family’s parent support system and watch the free webinar on Influential Parenting today.