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Awkward silences with teenage daughters

(59 Posts)
Diemme Sun 22-Jan-17 18:39:27

This is such a sad thing to post about. Just want to know if anyone can identify with it and can give me any tips. I like to think I'm quite a chatty sociable person and most of my friends would agree. In life though there are always a handful of people who we struggle to communicate with and where there are always awkward silences. And my God I never expected my children to be among them! I've got 2 DDs aged 13 and 14 and both have lost all interest in speaking to me. Today for instance I picked DD2 up from seeing a friend. During the 20 minute car journey I asked her how the friend was, if she'd bought anything, what she'd had for lunch, just general conversation. And each time she grudgingly gave me a one word answer so I gave up and we travelled on in silence. Again. I really hate it. It's painful to admit but I've lost all confidence in my ability to get my own children to engage with me. Any tips?

CauliflowerSqueeze Sun 22-Jan-17 18:46:18

It's a phase. It's not your fault at all - don't worry about it.

One book which is really good is "how to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk". Maybe try that.

user1484226561 Sun 22-Jan-17 18:49:40

why is silence awkward? That is just your interpretation of it.

Don't try and force joviality onto your poor daughters! you may be chatty, but they don't have to be.

Just say to them straightforwardly, "I like talking to you, please tell me something about your day for a few minutes, then we can be quiet for the rest of the way, if thats what you like."

Screamer1 Sun 22-Jan-17 19:02:21

I remember my dad trying to make conversation with me on the way to school and me being outraged that he was trying to talk to me. It's so harsh now I think about it!

I'd say just keep trying, but don't be too pushy. Just keep letting her know you're there and interested but without hounding her. It's typical teenage behaviour I'm sure, but can totally understand how hurtful it must be now I have my own.

Good luck

Diemme Sun 22-Jan-17 19:44:23

That sounds a good book cauliflower, I'll download it. Its really any conversation that's difficult, I wouldn't say I was forcing joviality. I know to a certain extent it's my interpretation but is it totally? Is it completely normal for 2 close family members to be together for 20 minutes and not be able to think of one word to say to each other?

FennyBridges Sun 22-Jan-17 19:48:20

I used to be like this. I felt that the conversation with my parents was always nosy - I know I'd ask the same questions you did but they're all about what she's up to. Can you enjoy silences and have more of an abstract conversation? Something you heard on the news, or ask her opinion of something? Funnily enough I never felt listened to because mum would just fire questions at me.

I'm not comparing you to my mum or my situation. Your post just reminded me. I also used to feel so tired at times and to keep on having to talk...!

abeandhalo Sun 22-Jan-17 19:49:58

Maybe you need to create things for you to talk about? Do you do things together, maybe you could plan those things? Or ask her advice on birthday gifts for other family members. Do you know what I mean, things that aren't small talk?

In the car when I was in my teens my dad would always get me to play new music I thought he might like, & I'm sure that was his motivation but it also gave us a lot to talk about.

ZombieApocalips Sun 22-Jan-17 19:57:36

Agree with Fenny. My son's very private suspicious so we have conversations about anything other than his life and friendships. It's the price that I'm happy to pay for interaction. Strangely, the less you ask then specific details, the more that they divulge in their own time.

Isadora2007 Sun 22-Jan-17 20:02:01

Bless you. Teens are hard work. I find texting is best or messenger. Not snapchat as my teens refused to add me on it.
I know you're trying hard but read back what you said "*i asked her how the friend was, if she'd bought anything, what she'd had for lunch, just general conversation.*
Now think of it from teen point of view. "Mum is always asking me stupid stuff it s just so pointless. She just asks asks asks. How stupid. "
I try not to even start a sentence with where when what who or why. My goodness it's a challenge.

PossumInAPearTree Sun 22-Jan-17 20:03:09

Dd would hate to be asked questions about her day, her friends, etc.

She will chat about to programmes, dogs, Donald trump, stuff she's seen on YouTube, crafty ideas, etc.

Teenageromance Sun 22-Jan-17 20:34:34

I'm afraid I do insist on communication and if I'm not getting anything back then I say right it's your turn to make conversation and they have to think of something to say. It's about manners really, whether they are tired or not.
I have 3 teenagers and I often find the best times are in the evening when we are just bantering. It often involves them taking the mikey out of me and their dad but usually ends in us all laughing.

corythatwas Sun 22-Jan-17 20:34:59

Totally normal for teens to withdraw into themselves, especially if they have just come from a social occasion. You can do a lot here by not allowing it to become a cause of tension. Eventually they tend to come out of their shell. Also, they do go through a phase where they seem to have less in common with you because they are changing and turning into grown-ups and they haven't worked out how to relate to you on that basis yet.

I found that just watching football together worked better for reconnecting with ds than trying to ask him questions about his day.

ButteredToastAndStrawberryJam Sun 22-Jan-17 20:55:31

I like these quotes

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”
― Will Rogers

“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.”
― William S. Burroughs

Only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking.

ButteredToastAndStrawberryJam Sun 22-Jan-17 20:58:13

I'm afraid I do insist on communication and if I'm not getting anything back then I say right it's your turn to make conversation and they have to think of something to say. That sounds truly awful.

Diemme Sun 22-Jan-17 21:25:21

Some good advice on here, thanks. We're all different and I genuinely don't remember being like that at 14. After a party say, my mum was my favourite person to giggle with about who'd snogged who, who was wearing an awful outfit, what gossip I'd picked up. So this makes me feel like I've failed where my own mum succeeded.

AnnaMagdalene Sun 22-Jan-17 21:30:14

Really genuinely it is not particularly usual for teenagers to discuss their mates with parents.

I think you might do better to talk about very neutral topics - stuff on the news, anything you've been doing, some funny incident or jok - rather than asking too much. Or if they're not chatty put a CD/the radio on.

Or just (try to) enjoy the peace.

It will change/get better eventually.

AndNoneForGretchenWieners Sun 22-Jan-17 21:35:49

DS doesn't say a lot but I really enjoy companionable silence. I appreciate the value of being able to sit in the same room as my child and my husband and not feel the need to natter on (I'm at the far end of the introvert scale). However I find that he does talk if we are doing something together - eg preparing food, tidying up, waiting for a bus. I get more out of him then, than I would if I asked him about his day as soon as he gets home. At best I get a grunt and an "ok", it is a normal teenage condition I have found.

FennyBridges Mon 23-Jan-17 06:07:24

Companiable silences are what I enjoy the most after pushy-talking parents. Even now after a few days of staying with them I feel talked-out. They're nice people - I just don't know why quiet is so negative to them!

Screamer1 Mon 23-Jan-17 11:25:04

Just to add, I completely adore my folks. We're really close.

CondensedMilkSarnies Mon 23-Jan-17 11:28:44

Sounds normal to me. I don't ask my DD questions , I just witter on about my day , what's for dinner, who I've spoken to etc.

If I start a chat about eyebrows , however, I can't shut her up !!

ImperialBlether Mon 23-Jan-17 11:34:38

It's a really horrible feeling, OP - I've been through it and wouldn't wish it on anyone. It's particularly hard if you've been very close and the change is sudden.

Try to stick to neutral topics if you can. What helped me was watching TV programmes together - I found my daughter didn't mind talking about them. Just be very careful not to criticise her friends - that's really the kiss of death - even if she criticises them herself. It helps if you have independent hobbies, so that she can see you're not totally reliant on her for company (god forbid.)

gamerchick Mon 23-Jan-17 11:38:20

It's pretty normal I think, I remember trying to fill the space with my daughter but gave up. She's in her 20s now and talks my lugs off.

My sons never shut up though, the 17 yr old has never had that silent phase yet.

BackforGood Mon 23-Jan-17 11:39:34

Its a very normal phase.
My 15 yr old HATES it when I ask her about her day / where she's been etc. My 18 yr old has come out the other side and chats quite happily about such things.

Cakingbad Mon 23-Jan-17 11:47:10

Agree with the others saying don't ask her about her day, tell her something funny about yours or talk about something intriguing on the news. There's a thread on here about Trump's bodyguards having fake hands. That's the sort of thing my teenagers would be willing to talk about.
It's just a phase that lasts a few years. You will be their confidante again one day but for now it's their friends only.

AnnieAnoniMouse Mon 23-Jan-17 11:58:19

It sounds like you had (have?) a great relationship with your Mum, I envy you that, my Mum was (and is) just too intrusive, too judgemental & too involved. I'm in my 40's now & she's still like that. I tell her as little as possible. So perhaphs you are a bit too much like my Mum or perhaphs your DD is nothing like you?! Either way, you can only change you. Step back, stop asking so many questions, just cast about your day, something on the news etc and if she does offer you information about her day/life think before replying - are you questioning or validating her feelings/actions?

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