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DENVER — With four kids ages 12 to 15, Melanie Veliz is a busy woman.  “It’s very challenging,” she said.

But, she always tries to find the time to talk to her kids, and to really listen to them.  “That’s the main thing, is them understanding that you care, and that you want to know what is going on, what’s bothering them,” Melanie said.

She’s learned it’s important to speak their language, which is social media.  “Get on Instagram, get on Snapchat, try to know how those work.”

Psychologists agree that technology can create a wedge between parents and teens.  “So us saying, when we grew up there was no such thing as the internet, makes them roll their eyes,  makes them feel like you don`t connect with me, I can’t connect with you,” said Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, a child psychologist at the Child and Family Therapy Center at Lowry.

Dr. Ziegler says it’s important to focus on common experiences, and here are some tips if you don’t want to ruin your relationship with your teen.

  • Don’t criticize excessively
  • Don’t pick on their appearance
  • Don’t expect instant compliance
  • Don’t embarrass them
  • Don’t grill them with questions

“It’s probably one of the top things that I hear teenagers sort of yell at their parents is, ’You don`t trust me!’  And so there’s something about the way in which parents inquire about things that makes them feel like they are being interrogated,” she said.

Dr. Ziegler says try to speak out of interest and love, not suspicion.  Those teenage years are so full of angst and insecurity, it’s important for parents to have more positive things to say than critiques.