So, I'm wondering, how do you decide when to ask questions, or try to have discussions with your teen, and when do you let things roll along, forgoing comment or question? I had thought I was pretty good at gauging this, but I'm off my game here a bit. I usually wait for dd to bring anything to me that she wants to discuss, and we do a lot of car discussions, which seems to work for her. I try not to offer anything unless she really asks. All of a sudden though, everything is off limits. Even when she actually asks me about my thoughts, she doesn't REALLY want me to respond because then I am in her business. Until she asks again, and is annoyed that I haven't answered.
I feel like we are communicating in 2 different foreign languages with each other, lol. My best bet is what I like to think of as "silent empathy", but I don't always succeed. Deep breath.
I'm mostly jumping on to subscribe because I have been horrible at this with my grown step daughter and would like to think I will do better with my dd, but I know I'm not great. Specifically if something doesn't make sense I seek clarification. I swear it is not that I was trying to catch them in a lie, but with dsd that was often the case (which was often why I didn't understand and I was just too oblivious to realize that that was the case.) I guess I would just assume that if we were having a conversation then she was already open to discussing the topic so I would feel free to comment or question, obviously holding back negative opinions unless I was concerned about a dangerous situation being created that could be prevented if she had some additional information. Alright after writing that I can see situations where that is my problem and the "information" rarely makes a difference so I should just across the board hold back negative opinions.
I have found the worst time to ask any questions is right after school, going to and from any event or during dinner. They expect it at those times and seem to already have a closed off attitude. I usually wait until around bedtime/tired or when they come to me, lay on me, want a back rub, things of that nature. Casual conversation when they are mellowed out in a sense. Or I pick up on something they said during the day to just give an acknowledgment in a joking way but don't go any further than that. But it lets them know I caught on to and was listening to them which typically leads into conversation later on. Kids/teens will also ask questions not because they want to hear necessarily what you think but to test you and see your reaction to what they are saying. That lets them know for the future what they can ask about and talk about with you. Also when my kid asks a question then plays cold shoulder like I'm from Mars ( even though they asked) I will randomly make myself busy as I share a thought. Almost a disinterested attitude. If I was in the car and my kid asked me something and became clammy about it, I would eventually just say, " Hey great question( see what your saying), but can't really help you right now, you should ask me later when we have time", anyway how about this song right now.......
I have found that letting them take the lead is best. And... not overreacting if they say something you consider outrageous. It's okay to tell them you disagree, or that you're not sure what your stance is on whatever topic. Just don't BS them - teens will sniff that out in a heartbeat.
Thanks for the replies. I should preface by saying that we have a very good, very loving relationship. I don't have major concerns. It's really the transition from being pretty open, to my dd being in a more private space, and my needing to find the good balance of being there, but not being intrusive and maintaining feelings of respect. I think the not over-reacting is key. I actually find that car rides, esp. after getting something to eat, are when I tend to hear some thoughts or stories on the day.
Yes to the car conversations!
With my new teen we also discuss news items as it is a good place to discuss topical issues without being intensely personal. For example, while his current group of friends don't drink a discussion of a teen DUI that made the news generates a lot of conversation. I also tend to use statements (rather than questions) as I find it's better at building conversation.