I’m gonna share some stuff about engaging with teens that’s so effective, it’s gonna blow your mind and change your mindset. I know it will because I’ve dished this advice out for years and it’s seriously effective. It’s like the garage station toilet on long car trip when your mum/dad don’t like pulling over and you’ve drank too much fizzy as a kid. I’ve even been labeled as some sort of teen whisperer for this.
To be fair, what I offer is simple stuff… stuff I’ve learnt through my extensive work with thousands of teens and making dumb-a$$ mistakes of my own. You know: “Don’t touch the element because it’s hot…” (So I touch it…just to make sure for myself and because you told me not to so I had to. But thanks for the heads up. And the burn took longer than I anticipated to heal. Wish people were more serious about how much it would hurt).
Now a disclaimer: I made this up as I went along. So I don’t pretend to know more than people who’ve written books about teens. Like Celia Lashlie (He’ll Be Ok), Diane Levy (Of Course I Love You…Now Go To Your Room) or Nigel Latta (all good books). But a book is on my bucket list.
What I’m about to suggest are a few powerful ‘C’ words, and this is one women generally believe they’re masters of, while the same ‘C’ word sends shivers down most men’s spines: “What? You want to communicate?”
When communicating with people, let alone a grunting, hormone-infested teenaged boy-man or stroppy girl who thinks she knows more than you, you have to find super stealth-like ways to communicate with them before they shut down and tell you to aggressively go away in a hurry.
If we’re to survive these crazy teenage years with a full head of hair, them not thinking we’re the dumbest dicks to have walked the planet and all parties harbouring the occasionally guilt-ridden fantasy of (fill in what you’re prepared to be honest enough to admit to here), then we need to find ways to effectively communicate with our teens. I choose the car talk. But it could be a forest or beach-walk. Whatever spins your wheels. As long as you’re not opposite each other.
Handy hint: I did the clever parental thing of alluding to certain ideas, Izaac expanded upon them, I applauded his expansion. Got what I wanted. Brilliant.
Note: this is for when you really wanna find out some shizzle.
The first 5 rules for the car talk and serious conversation are as follows:
1. CREATE THE RULES TOGETHER. If you’re an OCD carrotupbum control freak, you need to chew these rules over, discuss possibilities so they feel like they have a voice, a say. You’ll also discover they have some pretty sweet ideas.
2. TURN AWAY, DON’T LOOK AT THEM, DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT (!) CATCH THEIR EYE. They don’t want to see your pained expressions or longing looks that they still love you when words are tumbling out of their mouths in the most seemingly thoughtless way. I look straight ahead and the closest I get to glancing in Izaac’s direction is checking my blind spot. That’s when I sneak a glance trying to ‘read’ his face (Don’t let your child catch you doing it, though).
3. LET THEM FLEX THEIR VOCAB MUSCLES. It’s debatable but I’ve tested this one many times over. If there are certain words that are a no-go, go back to rule #1. But some advice here: if you make the rules too tight, you’re missing the whole point. They’ll shut down, you’re the biggest loser (and not in a good way). There are no limits to the words that come out of their mouths as long as it’s in perfect context and not just mindless shipyard sailor-stuff. Know that to start with, half the stuff that comes out of their mouths is for reaction. Definitely shock them occasionally with something that will cause them to react.
4. WHAT GOES ON IN THE CAR, STAYS IN THE CAR. Unless they bring it up and initiates conversations in relation to topics discussed in the car, no discussion outside of the car. Yes, it’s pure torture.
5. DO NOT GIVE ADVICE (unless they ask for it). Yes, it IS pure torture. I dunno about you but having suffered so much as a young person (I left home and school at 15 with two years highshcool education to make my own way in the world), it’s my natural thing to try take away others’ pain, especially that of my child or a suffering teen. And damn it, sometimes they don’t want you to fix it. Gahhhhh! So under NO circumstances, am I allowed to offer him advice.
So that’s it until installment #2 of how. Lemme know if these things worked for you.
Until next time,