Most Common Ways Parents Block Communication with Teens

You can read more about the book this is based on by clicking on “Book Synopsis” above.

Open and honest two-way communication is vital with teenagers, and real listening paves the way for honest communication to develop. As parents we may think we are hearing and listening, but often we are not. We are only listening on the surface level. We may also be projecting our fears, limiting beliefs and possibly outdated values on our teens.

We must remove our fears and limiting beliefs from the formula and trust the innate characters of our teens. We must communicate openly and honestly with them to get past the surface issues that stand between us. We can express our fears to them, but must do so without anger and strong emotions ensuring they know we ultimately trust them explaining that it is normal for parents to worry a bit. At the same time, we must give them the space to honestly express themselves – without fear of our anger or criticisms.

Between their physical changes, hormonal fluctuations, heightened emotions, and willingness to do almost anything to have friends and fit in, it is often frustrating, confusing and heart-wrenching all at the same time for parents to be the bystander of their teen’s emotions, attitudes, and behaviors. Caught between childhood and adulthood, teens need and demand the freedom to explore who they want to be, but also need the acceptance, support, and unconditional love of their parents—if and when they ask for it. Teens often act childlike, but demand to be treated with the maturity of the young adults they are growing into. Parents, confused and frustrated by these conflicting messages and their teens’ erratic moods and behaviors, become worried, critical, and impatient, and often vacillate between telling them what to do and enveloping them in smothering love.

Many adults and parents have not learned to communicate honestly and patiently themselves, and these skills are even less developed in teens. So it is important to be aware of what messages we are and are not giving our teens with our communication styles and listening abilities – and how they are interpreting them. As parents, we must ensure that the flow of communication is not blocked by our attitudes and our demeanor. Even our slight mannerisms and subtle body language can give our teen a message that will make them shut us out, breaking down true and honest communication.

In Hear Me, Hug Me, Trust Me, Dr. Scott Wooding suggests that parents often block the flow of good communication with their teens without realizing. He says the four most common attitudes parents fall prey to that block the flow of communication with their teens are: (1)

Interrupting: The teens Dr. Wooding interviewed told him that before they are finished explaining their parents often interrupt them with a barrage of questions, advice that sometimes turned into a lecture, and irrelevant points from their own lives. In addition to not interrupting, Dr. Wooding suggests that parents focus on content rather than delivery because teens also said that expressing themselves was hard, and they often felt criticized for their mannerisms or if a slang word slipped out.

Making Judgments: Other teens told Dr. Wooding that their parents destroy the dialogue by making instant judgments, deciding how best to solve the issue, or jumping to conclusions. The teens said they would be more willing to share issues with their parents in the future if they were given the airtime to explain fully.

Showing Emotion: Dr. Wooding tells us that when facing frightening or very disappointing news, parents who become highly emotional, tease their teens’ choices, or bark out questions, which only add fuel to an already-stressful situation. He explains that as parents we need to know what is going on but must remain calm rather than always making our teens feel wrong.

Not Understanding: One of the common complaints teens have in speaking with their parents is that they tend to bring their own experiences into the picture. Parents have to understand that their children’s lives, issues, struggles, and temptations are different than theirs were, and they don’t understand. One comment a girl made to Dr. Wooding was that the parent doesn’t remember what it feels like to be young, so they aren’t able to identify with how she felt. (1)

We have to step back from controlling our teens and knowing everything about their lives. Parents have to realize that teens need their privacy, and will do what they want anyway. When we show our teens we trust them with our attitudes and behaviors, they will trust us with their deepest concerns and worries. And we need to empower them. We have to give them the space to make mistakes and to learn from them.

It is in allowing teens to make decisions that they gain the confidence they need in themselves to become adults, and to learn from any bad choices. And although we must still guide our children, we now do so by demonstrating maturity in showing respect, forgiveness, and by allowing for good, open, and honest communication with them, and with those around us. This encourages the development of character and life skills so that they can gain the wisdom and develop the integrity necessary in order to move into adulthood with maturity and accountability.

Rosemary McCarthy, October 2016.

This article an expansion of the sub-sections “Communication and Real Listening with Teens” and main section “Teens and Young Adults” from chapter 5, Relationships.

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Below is a little peak at other concepts the book reveals.

… Improving our attitudes helps change the world, as every shift it attitude affects the vibration of the Planet as a whole. (Introduction)

… Our capacity to love others is in direct relationship to how much we love ourselves. (Chapter 3, What We Can Do About It)

… We Must Grow Up to Become the Parents Our Children Need (Chapter 5, Relationships)

… Improving our attitudes helps change the world, as every shift it attitude affects the vibration of the Planet as a whole. (Introduction) (Chapter 5, Relationships),

… We can reconcile our apparent relationship with extra-terrestrials with our belief systems. (Chapter 7, Science).

.… The electromagnetic fields we create from our heart chakras are at least forty times stronger than those created from our brains. (Chapter 8, Health and Healing; Death and Dying).

… Our planet is a living, breathing organism … and just like us she has to cleanse herself of toxins – the physical and emotional toxins we have put upon her. (Chapter 9, The Planet and Abundance).

… At levels beyond our awareness we chose to be here at this time of ‘The Shift’ to help bring about our and Gais’s Ascensions.  (Chapter 10, Ascension).


Copyright © 2016 by Rosemary McCarthy. All rights Reserved. To copy, share, or distribute this article simply ensure the content is copied in its entirety, is unaltered, and is distributed freely and for no monetary or personal gain, and that this copyright notice and the link for the article and the website are included. You can contact me at: Blessings, and thank you kindly!


(1) Scott Wooding, Hear Me, Hug Me, Trust Me (Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003), 40–5.