Giving Kids Advice: “It’s a Trap!”

Date: 07/06/2023

Title: Why won't your teen listen to your advice?

00:00:00 Speaker 1
It. When your teenager asks you for advice, why won't he listen to you? That's what we're talking
about today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist,
and I specialize in helping kids, teens and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations,
teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization, child and Teen Counseling,
both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook live
to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's. Hey, Kent. My son comes to me to
talk about stuff, which is good. Unfortunately, it doesn't always end well. He'll tell me about
something that's bothering him with his friends, which happens a lot, and I'll try to relate
to him using examples from my own life. I would think this would be helpful, but he's told me a
few times now, you always make it about you, dad. It seems like he wants my opinion, but whenever
I give it to him, it's all about me. Any suggestions

00:01:08 Speaker 1
on how I can handle these situations better? Yes, thank you for your question. I think a lot of
parents, and especially dads, have this issue because we have this life experience and we want
to impart this onto our children, want to help and support them, learn from our mistakes, grow,
stand on my shoulders, reach the highest heights. Unfortunately, kids got to make their mistakes
just like we all do. And the more we start talking about our experiences, they start glossing.
Yeah, whatever. And it's not about them anymore. They want it to be about them. And it's really
not even about asking for advice. He's not really asking for advice. He's really not. He may
say the words, but it's not really what he's unconsciously. It's not what he's doing. What he's
doing is look at me, see me, validate me, hear me. That's what he's really saying. Much like and
I'm going to paint with a broad brush here, much like this advice may apply to you and your spouse,
your wife, for example, if she comes home,

00:02:09 Speaker 1
have an awful day and you start giving her advice and how she's making it better and she screams
at you and about to punch you in the face, like, what's wrong? I'm giving you all the answers.
I'm the white knight in this situation. I'm solving all the problems. Why are you mad at me? And
she says, don't tell me what to do. I'm not telling you what to do. I'm just trying to give you advice
and trying to show you how I would do it and tell you from my experience. And all we had to do as men
is just shut up. Right. All we had to do is say, wow, that's tough. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that.
Wow. Yeah. I feel that you're really frustrated. I get you're frustrated. All we need to do is
validate their feelings, whether it's your son or your wife or your daughter or whoever it is
now. It's different when you get a pack of men together and we're all in the sports bar eating
hot wings and drinking draft beer. We relate differently. We're going to come up with a problem,
and we want to hear other people's

00:03:06 Speaker 1
advice. What would you do? How would you handle the situation? Men and women think differently,
just like adults and kids think differently, right? Your teenage boy is in a much more emotional
place in his life than an adult. Compartmentalized adult. Is it's not better or worse? Male
or female? It doesn't really matter. Our brains are different. And that's okay. That's totally
fine. So understand what is his need? So if he does say, dad, what should I do? It's a trap question,
because he may not be asking that question. What I would advise you to do is say, hey first, acknowledge,
hey, you're frustrated. You're kind of scared. I know how that feels. I get it that's not having
validation, acknowledging you understand how he feels is different than, well, back in my
day, I did this. He doesn't want a lecture. He just wants to feel heard. You can then ask him, hey,
I hear that you're saying you want me to give you advice. Do you really want me to give you advice,
or do you just want me to

00:04:05 Speaker 1
listen? To understand? Let him consciously say, yes, dad, I want advice. If that's the case,
make it short, make it sweet, make it to the point. Don't make it a lecture and have no hold, no
expectation he's going to follow any of your advice. If you start going into the history of,
well, back when I was your age, I did this way. He doesn't care what you did. He really doesn't.
He may care how you felt, but the ins and outs of what you did, he's not going to relate to what he's
doing now. I know from your point of view it does relate, but he's not saying it. So it's really
about acknowledging his feelings. And then if you do that, he'll feel much more supported by
you, and you'll probably argue less. Anyways, it's a big topic. I work with clients about this
all the time. Have session after session after session about how to whittle this down. If you're
having trouble working this out, you may need to talk to a therapist to help you figure out how
to communicate this better so you're reducing

00:04:59 Speaker 1
those arguments, having more connection time. Anyways. My name is Kent Toussaint with Teen Therapy
Center and Child and Teen Counseling. If you'd like me to answer your question on a Wednesday
at noon on Facebook Live, email us at tips on or you can direct
message us right here on Facebook. Thank you for your questions. We love you guys. Keep them
coming, and I'll see you next Wednesday, noon on Facebook Live. Bye.

Your Kid Doesn’t Really Want Your Advice!

When it comes to giving kids advice it is wise to heed the words of the legendary Admiral Ackbar: “it’’s a trap!” Your teenage son or daughter most likely doesn’’t want to hear what you have to say. And they definitely don’t want to hear how you did it “back in your day.” What teens really want when they come to you in these situations is actually pretty simple. They want to feel “seen,” and for you to validate their feelings.

Good News and Bad News

As parents, we want our kids to learn from our mistakes. We hope they will avoid some of the pain and suffering we went through as a result of our decisions. The bad news is that unfortunately kids need to make their own mistakes just like we did.  The good news is that to effectively support our kids, most of the time all we have to do is shut up and listen, and validate their feelings! Not too hard right?

Speaking of Advice…

Our last piece of advice about giving kids advice is simple: if your kid comes to you appearing seeking advice, say something like- this: “I hear you saying you want advice. Is that what you really want, or do you just want me to listen and understand?” If they say yes, make it short and sweet. Don’t make it a ‘back in my day” style lecture. Most importantly, have zero expectations that they’ll actually follow your advice! If you do all this you can acknowledge their feelings and make them feel  supported so they’ll know they can rely on you for validation and support in the future. 

Break It Down More For Me

We’ll break it down more for you in this Tips on Teens video:

“Hey Kent. My son comes to me to talk about stuff, which is good. Unfortunately it doesn’t always end well. He’ll tell me about something that’s bothering him with his friends (which happens a lot), and I’ll try to relate to him using examples from my own life. I would think this would be helpful, but he’s told me a few times now ‘you always make it about you dad.’ It seems like he wants my opinion, but whenever I give it to him ‘it’s all about me.’ Any suggestions on how I can handle these situations better?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.