Parents often complain about their teen or adult kids not talking to them. They never call or keep the conversations short, rarely come around, and don’t appear to enjoy spending time with them. Some of this is normal, but maybe there are some things we do that discourage conversation. These could be things we’re not even aware of. However, if your child struggles with an addiction they’re definitely going to be self-focused and not want to be with you. Self-centeredness is part of the disease. If they struggle with a mental illness, that’s another complication for good conversations. No matter the situation, there’s usually some way we could improve the interaction we do have.
I thought about this problem for several days and came up with ten ways I guarantee your son or daughter will never want to talk to you—or be with you. I wouldn’t want to spend time with someone who did these things. You probably wouldn’t either. I hope the contrasting behaviors are glaringly obvious.
10 Ways to Guarantee Your Kids Never Want to Talk to You
1. Do all the talking and be a lousy listener.
2. Remind them of their past mistakes. Let them think you’re perfect.
3.Offer unsolicited advice. Force your opinions on them. Don’t ask for theirs.
4. Constantly let them know you don’t like their boyfriend/girlfriend/partner or friends. Be sure to criticize them.
5. Lecture them and preach at them.
6. Make promises you can’t keep. When you break them, be sure to deny you ever made them.
7. Never, ever apologize or say you’re sorry for anything. Be proud and untouchable.
8. Withhold saying “I love you”. They already know. Do they need to hear those words again? (Yes, they do!)
9. Gossip and talk about them to anyone who will listen. Be sure to tell the private details so they will know how to pray then encourage them to “share” with others.
10. Take no interest in what interests them. Treat them with disrespect.
If you treat your child in these ways your relationship will be in danger. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine someone treating you this way. I would feel uncomfortable, belittled, and devalued. I’d count the minutes until I could leave or hang up the phone. There would be little motivation to reconnect or pursue a relationship. Why should I subject myself to someone who makes me feel bad?
The Bible has a few things to say that I think are relevant:
- Treat others the same way you want them to treat you (Luke 6:31 NASB).
- Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them (Ephesians 6:4 NLT)
- Fathers (and mothers), do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged (Colossians 3:21 NIV)
Recommended resource: Encouragement for the Brokenhearted Parent by Leslie Barner
Reflection: Which one from the list of 10 do you want to work on? Tell someone and ask them to hold you accountable.