Q: I have a 15 year old daughter, and have been somewhat strict with her over the last few years. Could you give me any advice on how to get her to talk to us and get her to open up more? She rarely talks to me about anything ...
[There was much more to this email, so I whittled it down for brevity's sake.]
A: First I would like to refer you to a few earlier posts that may be helpful.
The bottom line on teenagers is that they are in motion toward independence. You're most likely to maintain a strong relationship with your daughter if you can acknowledge that and act accordingly by handing over as much control over her life as you can possibly bear to let go of.
In a few short years, you gotta let go of all of it anyway. I'm in favor of letting kids learn their lessons and make the inevitable mistakes while they are still at home and we can help them clean up the mess.
When our teens don't tell us much, it's often because they don't think we can handle the truth, they don't want to pay the price we would impose, or they are ashamed of what they've done. If you want her to talk to you more, try to make sure you are receiving her communication gracefully.
One way to do this is to ask her what needs to happen so that she's more comfortable talking to you. Since you said you've 'blown up at her' in the past, she made need some additional reassurance that you will keep your cool no matter what she tells you.
If you find yourself feeling angry or upset about what she says during a conversation, tell her you don't want to blow up at her, and are therefore taking a break and will be back when you are calm enough to listen again.
I love that you want to be a resource for your daughter, and that you are trying to open up communication again. This is a courageous and vulnerable intention for a parent to put forth, and I salute you.
I hope this helps. If you don't find what you are looking for here or in the articles above, perhaps you'd like to schedule a phone or email parenting consultation, so I can more thoroughly address your family's situation. If so, please visit www.karenalonge.com/forclients.htm for more information.