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Understanding Your Teen

by Lori Sciame | October 10th, 2011 | Teens

As an English teacher at a local college, I meet hundreds of teens each school year. This experience has helped me to better understand what is important to this age group. I’ve taken what I’ve learned to help me communicate with my own teens more effectively.

Parents need to know that texting serves as a powerful communication tool for today’s teens. No longer do they rely upon the spoken word to arrange entertainment options; they simply text back and forth until plans become finalized. In their world, even dates can be arranged in this manner. So, as a parent, no matter how much you despise texting, it is a good idea to learn how to do it. Your teen will appreciate the effort, and you will enjoy much better communication with your child.

Another tool you must familiarize yourself with – social networking sites. These are here to stay, and you’d better understand how they work if you wish to remain truly connected to your children as they age. For example, I have a relative who refuses to learn how to use Facebook. She says it’s a waste of time, and that she has better things to do. Although I agree that if misused, Facebook can eat up precious time, I believe it should be looked at as a means of keeping track of what your child is doing. Several times I have stumbled upon young teens in racy poses, and/or using profane language on Facebook…all without the knowledge of their parents.

Skype provides another means of staying connected to your teen. Since my two older children went to college, both over a thousand miles away, this type of video chatting has been invaluable at keeping homesickness at bay. Learning this service is easy, and nothing beats seeing your child’s smile. This unique type of communication also allowed me to virtually visit my son’s apartment, and I could see details that revealed much about his living habits, including a clean kitchen!

Communicating with your teen goes beyond gadgets, however. You must familiarize yourself with the shows they watch, the video games they play, the music they listen to, as well as the types of clothing they wear. I am not saying that you need to morph into a teen, you just need to make an effort to understand what your teen likes and dislikes. For example, I found out that my oldest son listens to classic country music, my middle daughter enjoys Reggaeton, and my youngest currently loves Adele. Because of this, I make an effort to have all three of these types of music on my CD player in the car.

As my students taught me, it’s important for adults to make an effort to understand the world teens live in. Again, this does not mean you have to copy their fashions or watch their shows, such as Jersey Shore, but if you want to remain an integral part of your child’s life, make an effort to meet them where they are. You won’t be sorry!

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