Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teen Speak

I have made a few observations as I have been in the pre-teen and now teen world for a few years.  Here is my teen parent observation of the week:

When your teenager says something so ridiculous or incredibly stupid that you don't know how to respond appropriately take a breath, step back and think about this:  They have no idea what they are talking about.  However, for some reason they have decided to state what should be a question as a fact.  For instance, "You don't do the laundry right."  Should in fact be worded, "why do you sometimes mix my clothes up with dad's?" (or in Jake's case, "Can I do the whole families laundry for a week?")   "I don't need to study for that test."  Should actually be, "Could you help me understand how much more complicated this test is going to be than I realize?"

For whatever reason their brain, while still developing, has decided it knows everything and stops asking questions.  And then for some reason as parents we over react as if they actually should know everything.  So whenever Jake says something stupid to me I simply try to figure out what the actual question is.  What does he not understand which is causing him to draw this faulty conclusion.  He simply doesn't have enough information to even understand the question he is supposed to ask.

It sort of reminds me of the end of the second Matrix movie where Neo is talking to the Architect and after explaining that the world is in fact not what he thinks it is he says something like, "while your first question may seem the most pertinent what you don't realize is that it is also the most irrelevant."  That is how I feel about what many teens say. 

I see my role as a parent to fill in those holes.  Answer those unspoken questions and help him better understand what is happening to him and in the world around him.

Several years ago I heard about a training that was given to new senators and congress people on how to deal with the media.  They were told that if they didn't like the question that was asked of them they should simply answer the one they wished the person had asked.  (You will be amazed at how often you notice this now.)  While I don't know how great of political advice it is, I think this is great parenting advice.

So what crazy things have your teenagers said and what do you think the real question is?


  1. This is awesome! I especially like how he's *really* asking to do the family's laundry for a week. LOL! I'll have to file that one away for when we hit the teen years (which is still a ways off). Although it's uncannily similar to things that come out of my 5-y-o's mouth, too!

  2. When Sofie saw this picture of Jake she said, "Aw, he's cute Mom!" :)

  3. OK, today's was a phone call when I was down the street at the neighbors. "Why isn't there anything for me to eat?" ME was emphasized. This is the picky kid. Who can't just open up a can of soup. Help me with that one! Actually he was right, I am sick and haven't been shopping yet. There wasn't any "Michael" food. Wish I had your wisdom at the time. Instead of saying something wise I came home and made him noodles LOL