I have a houseful of adolescents who have come to visit their grandmother at the beach. Sitting in a ring in the sand, I asked them what were the rules they felt parents should know about how to talk to their teenagers. Here are some of the things they said:
Firstly, don’t talk first but listen. Listen as carefully as you can and don’t jump to any conclusions immediately. Let your adolescent have his/her say.
Secondly, don’t preach. Don’t begin a sentence with “When I was your age” I had to walk all the way to school, or I had to do such and such chores. Don’t set yourself up as a paragon of virtue even if you were, which is unlikely.
Thirdly, rather lead by example. Practice what you would like to preach. Show the way by your own exemplary behavior and hope that you will eventually be emulated.
Fourthly, remember just how aggravating you found your own parents when you were that age and try not to be offended or hurt. Don’t take casual remarks too seriously.
Fifthly, show an interest in the interests of your teenager even if it is difficult. Listen to the music which may have no melody or words you can hardly understand. Go to the soccer games, or whatever sporting events your teenager enjoys. Remember that the world has changed, that our modern world is changing rapidly and that taste is the most variable of all.