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Communication is key

Cornerstone Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

After 10 years as a pastoral counselor, the number one issue I find between any two individuals is communication.

I found this to be true between parents and their teens during the eight years I worked as a youth pastor. I have had several parents ask me to "fix their teen," but the problem was their teenager was simply being a teenager. Yes, there were some exceptions, but for the most part the kids were good kids. The issue was some of them had developed poor coping skills for dealing with the stresses of life. I found myself in an interesting predicament ... how do I help a teen I see in a group setting for maybe an hour or two a week, whose parents refuse to acknowledge their own shortcomings, and who refuse to do any work toward self improvement? The only way to overcome these issues was to find ways to partner with parents.

Every once in a while I would come across a parent who was willing to listen and take advice. They recognized that if they spend more time with their teen, they could have a larger impact than I ever could. These few parents understood that I was not there to judge their parenting skills or style, but to help them better communicate with their teens. They trusted my experience, education and drive to relate to their teens. They knew that the communication skills required practice and would take time to implement. The parents who practiced and developed these skills allowed them to have a better relationship with their teen and many of their "problems" became much more manageable.

One piece of advice I would give to parents is to get over the "shoulds." When one gets stuck on the way something should be, there is a refusal to accept what is. This is the first step in overcoming communication biases, a skill that cannot be learned overnight. I have found that these skills are best learned and processed in a group setting.

For that reason, Cornerstone Center for Counseling and Discipleship is excited to announce a new personal/family development class called, "Talking to Your Teen." This course will begin mid-September and will include the following topics:

• Basics of Communication/Understanding My Biases.

• Assertive Communication.

• Listening Skills.

• Empathic Communication.

• Naming Expectations.

• Fighting Well.

This class is for all parents who want to develop a deeper relationship with their teen. If this sounds like something for you please visit our website at http://www.cornerstoneccd.com for more information.