(Part 18: In the Open blog series)
by Stephanie Pericich
I have spent a lot of time on this blog discussing ways in which parents can talk to their kids about alcohol, drugs, smoking and vaping. I’ve noted numerous easy-to-locate and easy-to-use resources to assist parents in talking with their kids about these topics. I have not placed as much emphasis on the importance of listening to our kids; this month’s blog is all about listening.
My husband and I, along with fellow members of Alliance for Healthy Communities, recently attended a virtual town hall sponsored by Community Partners in Prevention that included teens from school districts across the St. Louis area. The purpose of the town hall was to provide the teens with an opportunity to discuss issues of importance to them, particularly relating to substance use and mental health. The last portion of the meeting was devoted to Q&A, so that the adults on the call could pose specific questions to the teens and hear the teens’ responses.
The ensuing discussion was quite illuminating. Upon comparing notes following the town hall, every adult to whom I spoke came away with the same overriding theme: More than anything, teens want to be heard. The teens expressed that their parents, teachers and other adults in their lives seem to be more interested in talking to them, as opposed to talking with them. The teens said that they want and need to learn from adults’ life experiences, but when the teens are ready to share their own struggles and emotions, they would like for the adults to listen with undivided attention.
Point taken. For my part, I plan to check in with my teen from time to time by asking, “Do you feel that you’re being heard?” We can all do a better job of listening – not only to our teens, but to everyone in our lives.
Stephanie Pericich is a Parkway area wife, mother and an independent author of non-fiction and poetry. Ms. Pericich has volunteered to share her experiences and perspectives as a mother navigating the challenges of parenting for the purpose of encouraging community conversations about keeping kids safe and healthy.