No one ever said parenting a teen is easy. Parenting a teen can be very frustrating at times. Your teen is trying to establish their identity, and more times than not, that means that they’re not very interested in what you have to say. How do you talk to your teen about their future and get them to listen? Follow these tips to build a stronger relationship with your teen and help steer them in the right direction.

Teens Get a Bad Rap

You likely have heard that parenting a teen is no picnic. Parenting a teen has been described as dealing with a minefield and never knowing what will trigger an explosion. However, the problem with parenting a teen is not one-sided. Parents often make the mistake of seeing their teenager not as a young adult but as their “baby” instead.

Teens are not larger children nor are they mini-adults. They are at the in-between stage where they are trying to navigate the changes that they are going through while trying to spread their wings a bit. Keep in mind that it takes two parties to communicate. Parents have to take half the responsibility what communication is not working as it should.

Career Worries

One of the biggest worries parents have about their teens is where they will be employed after college. For teens, starting a career feels like a lifetime away. Time passes differently when you are young. Five years seems like plenty of time to get their lives together. Parents often worry about whether their teens will be able to find a “steady” job and earn a decent income.

The world is changing. A nine-to-five “steady” career is not necessarily the right answer for everyone. Today there are other ways to carve out a lucrative career. There are about 400 million entrepreneurs in the world today. Imagine if Jeff Bezos’s mom forced him into a career he did not want or Bill Gates’s mom did not let him quit college for that matter. Instead of talking about career paths that are right for you, listen, and talk about planning and how your teen will get on track to do what they want to do.

Taking a helping model approach. Become an ally. Some dreams are unrealistic, but that does not mean you should not dream them. If your teen is into music, for example, keep in mind that the music industry is projected to generate about $31 billion in 2022. Maybe you are not raising the next Mozart, but that does not mean they cannot find their place in an industry that they love. Stay open-minded.

Present Your Concerns Using An Adult Approach

Parenting a teen is tough because not only are they going through an adjustment period, but so are you. It can be hard not to speak to your teen without mentioning “because I said so”, but you must approach them as a young adult, not as a child. Layout your concerns without being accusatory or putting them on the defense. Leave the “you always” or “you never” terms at the door. They are not productive and will not get the response you want.

Speak to your teen the way you would speak to someone at work or someone that is your peer. Frank discussions with an eye on kindness will get you far more than accusatory conversations will. As a bonus, your teen will not only be more receptive to your ideas but they will appreciate the respect that you are showing them.

Parenting a teen to productive adulthood requires commitment, determination, and kindness. Learn to listen to your teen and help them plan an obtainable future. By 2040 the 85 plus population will triple to about 5.7 million, we need the teens of today to be ready to take the helm and ensure that the older generation is taken care of. Parenting a teen does not have to be parents against the teen. Learn how to speak to your teen and be heard.