Local experts share the latest information and resources on all things mental health.
Posted: October 23, 2014 by firstname.lastname@example.org
Talking about your childhood experiences to your teen is a tricky thing that could tune them out in a hurry. But when done thoughtfully, it can also be one of the best ways to build connection and bridge the generational gulf residing between the two of you.
Should I share or not?
I hear parents struggling with this dilemma all the time for different reasons. One concern is about being a bad influence: “If I tell my teen that I smoked pot in college I’ll lose my credibility and he won’t listen to me.”
Another challenge is when a parent just can’t relate at all to their teen’s behavior: “I always did well in school and never got in trouble like she does.”
A third obstacle can come from being able to relate all too well to her struggles. Some parents don’t want to share their experiences because it’s either too close to home or they think they’ll burden their teen even more: “My son’s struggle with depression (making friends, focusing, etc.) reminds me a lot of my difficulties at his age and even now to some degree.”
Sharing your early experiences is important and your teen can benefit in multiple ways: It makes you more human, builds empathy and respect, strengthens your connection and builds his sense of self by broadening the story of who he is and where he came from.
Here are some do’s and dont's to consider when you decide to talk about your childhood experiences with your teen.
One barrier to connection comes from teens feeling like their parents can’t relate to their experience at all. When we talk about our own childhood in a way that’s genuine and honors commonalities as well as differences, teens tend to feel less alone and more understood. Learning more about you helps your teen learn more about herself. Before you know it, you may find yourselves standing together on the bridge you both built.
Tags: relationship and family