Monday, February 27, 2012

Balancing Teen Communication

As I've mentioned, these past few weeks of parenting my 14-year-old have been rough. At the heart of the matter has been a struggle for effective communication. So I was thrilled when TSL asked me to read Teenage as a Second Language by Barbara R. Greenberg & Jennifer A. Powell-Lunder.

Admittedly, some of these things are so much easier said than done. While parents of teenagers have been at this a while, it really does feel like you're starting all over again at a certain point in their adolescence. I thought it would be at 13, but it turns out it really hits when they're high school freshmen.

Of course, when you step back and think about it, the authors make a lot of sense. This is a time of great change in our children's lives, so it stands to reason that they would change right along with it. They're a little anxious, too. They are overwhelmed with emotions and new ideas and homework and the idea of their futures as adults is scaring them just as much as it may be scaring the parents.

This combination of anxiety, fear and confusion can greatly hinder our ability to communicate effectively. I can understand it on an intellectual level, but getting my heart to understand is a different matter.

So the reminders in Teenage as a Second Language came at the perfect time. We'd spent so many days and weeks just talking about this one issue or not talking at all. I was finally able to let go. During our commute, I allowed all of us to just be again.

When we arrived home, Sylvia said, "wow, Mom, we actually just had a conversation."  At that point, we could have a real discussion about the issue. We were both able to check our emotions and just talk to each other, and more importantly, I think we both finally felt heard.

Teenage as a Second Language reminds parents that we can't force our teens to communicate when they're not in a good place for it. It's more effective to remind our teens that we're here for them, and let them come to us. The book incorporates a lot of do's and don'ts (though I could've done without the don'ts), and plenty of ideas for conversation starters that can help provoke longer answers than "fine."

The authors also remind us parents that our teenagers really do still care about what we have to say and how we feel about them. Just as we'd like different responses sometimes, it works both ways. The book includes many tools for to get both parents and teenagers to speak the same language.

I was given a complimentary review copy of this book, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. I'm bookmarking the authors' Talking Teenage site, and subscribing to their blog.

1 comment:

Julie@My5monkeys said...

wow I am not there yet with teenagers but I understand the need to communicate with them and talk with them. soon to have 5 soon LOL