Have you ever tried talking to a teenager? No I’m serious. And when I say talk to, what I mean is have a conversation with. Mind you, this is totally different from talking down or giving orders or instruction to. This is a two-sided conversation, as in, you speak and they respond in more than mono-syllabic fashion. In the event you have not, let me warn you now, it’s friggin’ hard.
I feel uniquely qualified to talk about this because as the mother of two teens, I’m quite familiar with the amount of energy required to DRAG words out of their mouths. I know firsthand the frustration of feeling like I’m talking to myself and the ache of wishing they’d let me into their world, even if for a short visit.
What happened to my babies, the ones who used to run to me and throw their arms around me with reckless abandon? The ones who were proud to hold my hand, no matter where we were or who was watching? They’re long gone now, a fact I knew but was underscored the other day when I picked up my sick daughter from school. As we were walking to the car, I slipped my hand into hers because I wanted to make her feel better, to let her know her mom was there and all would be okay. But I committed the sin of doing it on the campus of her high school and no sooner had I latched onto her fingers, she wriggled out of my grasp. I didn’t make a big deal of it but I was aware of the group of upperclassmen watching us walk through the parking lot. So was Casey.
So I came up with a strategy and it’s one I implore Buff to use too every time I hear him trying too hard. Just relax. Let them come to you because eventually they do. And one of the best places for that to happen is in the car.
Who knew the car, the vehicle with which we use to get from point A to point B would be the very thing that would aid in communication? How could we possibly know that the mundane aspect of driving to a destination could help bridge the gap between parents and teen? Yet that is exactly what happens.
Why is that? I have my ideas. First, I think because all eye’s are forward which makes it easier to talk about big issues. I think a life lesson, tucked in between a verse of Justin Bieber’s “Baby”, though no less important, is a bit easier to absorb and be less embarrassed by. And every so often in the car, said teenagers actually start a conversation, ask a question or impart an unsolicited thought. And it makes me feel good.
How do you get your teens to open up? Does it happen very often and when it does, are you surprised by what they say?
I’m thrilled to be partnering with Hallmark in 2012 for its “Life Is A Special Occasion” campaign. Of course, the characters in my rantings are real and the opinions are all my own.