Dr. Wallace: Last week my son became a teenager by reaching the magical age of 13. My ex-husband and I have been divorced for over eight years, so my son and I have spent much time together. Basically, Kyle is a good kid and I want him to remain that way through the very difficult teen years. I can vouch for that! My teen years were very rocky.

If you could give me one tip to keep my son from going wrong, what would that be?

Mother, Centralia, Wash.

Mother: I can boil it down to a single word: listening. It’s most important to have open and honest communication between parent and child. Wise parents always find time to listen when a child needs to talk. Regardless of what the parents are doing, they should take a break and devote their full attention to what the child is saying.

When listening, make good eye contact, and never give the child any negative body language, especially a noticeable frown.

When a teen feels comfortable, trusts a parent and is not threatened with intimidating questions, the parent is more likely to receive quality information.

Everyone wants to be heard. The wise choice for the parent is to listen carefully.

Write to Dr. Wallace
at rwallace@galesburg.net