One of the hardest stages of parenting is perhaps seeing the change in our kids as they get older. Before long, we’re no longer the centre of their life. What comes next is less talking and spending time together. Our once chatty child is now very secretive. They’re no longer interested in opening up and sharing what’s happening in their lives.
No parents like getting silent treatment from their teens. Especially when we thought we’ve done our best on our end as a parent. It’s sad. They used to tell us everything; their private thoughts, their favourite books, their crushes and so forth. But now, we’re seen and treated like nothing short of outsiders. We next find ourselves longing to connect with our teens; but the more we want from them, the less they want to give.
What Should I do
Resist the urge to lecture or tell her/him how hurtful you feel. Your teen needs someone to talk to; so listen to what s/he has to say. Make sure you look interested to listen to them. Pretend if you must.
Give them a heads-up that you’d like to talk to them, so that s/he has a little time to prepare. If you did get to talk to them, try to have positive interactions with them.
Try not to get too emotional; talk to them like an adult. Don’t pump for information, and let it show that you value her opinions and understand her feelings. If what s/he telling you was one of his/her teenage problems, empathise and identify with his/her problem instead of trying to solve it.
If your teen spends all his/her time in his/her room; that s/he isn’t also talking to any of her usual friends, then this could be a cause for concern. Talk to his/her friends or teachers, see if your teen has school problems; bullying, drugs, or even rape. This behaviour could also be a sign that s/he is mentally unstable. S/he could be having depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, which were common in the late teens and early 20s.
Your teen might as well be feeling suicidal. If you think this might be the case, address the issue at once. Be calm, do so in a calm, non-accusatory manner. Validate his/her feelings and get professional help. Tell them that seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness.
Pick your battles and give your teen room to grow. Remember that silent treatment, it isn’t always about you. Most importantly, put your teen’s health and well-being above everything else. It’s our job as a parent to continue to make an effort to stay connected with them, even when s/he doesn’t make it easy or fun.