Parent Blog: Living with teens
By: Emilia Jae
While a teen, my son in particular was always very reluctant to speak to me about things - even the daily stuff:
"So, what did you do with Eddie today?"
"Really? Nothing? Can you expand on that?"
"God, Mom! Get off my back!"
Followed by stomping off to a secluded room.
Nothing new. This has been experienced by parents for millennia. I am sure that Socrates had the same trouble with his teenager. Only she ran off to the goat herd. This is assuming the philosopher had a daughter. And goats. But I digress.
On a long road trip to a soccer tournament, it was only my son and I in my car. No head phones, no iphone in front of him. It started casual - noticing things. Then we both had opinions and noted the similarities and differences. Then, gradually, he brought up some things about his life. I told him some things about me when I was his age (not comparing but RELATING - this is important). I worked VERY hard not to judge or react if he said something that bothered me. I would ask follow up questions.
By the time we got there - I had learned a lot and I think we made a dent in that wall between us. The soccer game gave us things to talk about right away on the way home. We talked a little more beyond that, but nothing too earth shaking was revealed.
The next time he went somewhere with Eddie, due to the car conversation,I was aware that he played basketball with Eddie and other kids in Eddie's neighborhood.(some of whom made bad choices)
"Did you get a game started today?"
He said "Yeah".
"How'd you do?"
"Ok. Any problems?"
"that kid with the car I told you about showed up, but he left"
"Ok." "Hey, would you mind helping me move the table really quick."
Eye roll - then he helped.
Yeah - not a huge break through, but these rides have continued and each time, a little more is revealed. Even today, at 21, my son likes to sit in the front seat when we travel so he and I can talk. (his dad is not a talker so he sleeps when dad drives).
So long drives provides a private place with no escape (try to get them to leave the headphones in the back seat, or better yet at home), they don't have to look you in the eye which can be intimidating. And long silences aren't a big deal in a car.
Just a thought.
Emilia Jae is a certified special education teacher with over 30 years experience. Her family consists of a husband of 28 years and 2 adult children in university.