[Read How and Why to Make Small Talk.]
Notice, too, when your teen is grouchy, slamming doors and complaining. And before chalking up their behavior to typical teenage hormones, Lyness warns: "Maybe it's just hormones or typical adolescence, but either way, adolescence is really stressful. It's not just hormones in a vacuum … there's still a context for what they're going through."
Instead of immediately finding fault in their attitude, try your best to recognize that these actions are likely signs of stress. (Don't you get a little grumpy when your mother-in-law visits, or when your boss criticizes you?) Ask in a supportive tone: "How can I help?" Lyness suggests.
You can likely help by showing teens' stressors in perspective. Don't dismiss their stress, but "help them think: How can I solve it and move past it?" And if they come to you with one of those many new decisions they're facing, remember that it's not about you. "Parents will have their opinion, and it's OK to share it with their teen, but it shouldn't be front and center," Lyness says. Responding to their dilemma with "here's what you should do" may have worked when they were 10, but not anymore. After hearing that advice, it's unlikely that your teen will come back for your input again.
Instead, "Listen more than you advise," Lyness says. "Help draw out your teen's opinion." Try something along the lines of: "You seem to have mixed feelings. Why don't you tell me both sides," Lyness suggests. Of course, there are exceptions to this approach, like if the teen is making a dangerous decision and a parent must lay down the law. But in most cases, parents should be able to offer some counsel, but mostly support, as their teens talk through their stress. By learning how to make these decisions, Lyness says, "they're learning the process of dealing with stress, managing multiple responsibilities, growing their independence, and still being able to ask for support and guidance when they need it—and we never outgrow that."