My point was to adopt a R.A.N. style of parenting. Being Receptive, Approachable and Nonjudgmental is not only reasonable, but it gives your kids lots of opportunities to learn and practice the skills they'll need for a lifetime of relationships.
If you are Receptive to hearing their issues, big and small; if you are Approachable at anytime and if you are Nonjudgmental, you'll teach them leadership, coping and problem-solving skills. You are your kids' first teacher, so make the best use of this time. But there are some caveats...
Parents overtalk. Blah, blah, blah. We mothers are guilty of this from Day One. Keep your talking points short, concise and clear.
You are your kid's most important teacher, so take this job seriously. If you aren't receptive about the little things, don't count on them to trust you for the big ticket items like sex.
Be Approachable. Stop what you are doing, within reason (this lineswoman clearly cannot stop and talk with her kid at this moment), and listen to your kid. If they've taken the chance to talk to you, don't let them lose. They'll stop coming to you because you won't stop what you are doing to listen to them. Most kids are not like adults, they don't drone on and on. They get right to it. Teach them that they're important enough for you to stop your life and enter theirs...just for a moment.
Be Nonjudgmental. Listen and consider. Don't get emotionally involved. You are the Premier Problem-Solver. Stop the hysteria, the judgmental and totally worthless statements and help the kid figure it out. If you hear yourself saying, "What's wrong with you?" and "I can't believe you did that!", "What were you thinking?" and "How stupid can you be?" just go ahead and slap yourself.
You have forgotten that they are PUCs...people under construction and they don't have all of the answers and that's why they're talking to you. They're looking for a little help. Don't step on them for it. Check your judgment at the door. They have friends who are gay, who have parents of the same gender and lots of other situations that you may not approve of. Don't care. It's not your life, but if you react negatively, you are telling your kids that it's not safe to talk to you about everything.
Please avoid being a know-it-all. We adults don't know it all. Use this interaction as an opportunity to explore what your kid values and teach them problem-solving strategies. "What do you think?...Got any ideas? What are the most important points to consider in this situation?" Open-ended prompts will get them to think about their choices. This what you want...a kid who thinks.
It's really late to start this process when they're 15, but you know me, I say start any time. Show your kid what kind of parent you want them to be. Remember, the actions speak so much louder than the words.
Just do the best you can. TTFN, Claudia