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KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted: Feruary 12, 2007 - יום שני, כ"ד בשבט, תשס"ז

 
 
 
     
 

Talking to Your Teen: A Quick Exit (Part 1)
Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

Living with a teenager in your home often feels like living in a war zone. Everything feels like a battle and "winning" or succeeding one day has no bearing on the battles of the next day.

 

A national survey in Canada found that though more than 2/3 of teens turn to their friends and closest confidants for advice, still 60 percent said that they ask their mothers for guidance and 37 percent said they seek their father's counsel during stressful times.

 

The thing that fascinated me most about this study is the places where teens said they had the most significant talks with their parents. Kids felt comfortable speaking to their parents about difficult topics in the car, at the dinner table and just before bedtime.

 

I was intrigued by the three times and places that teens consider safety-zones and wondered why this was so. A conversation at the dinner table or in a car gives the parent and child the luxury of not having to look at each other when they talk, thereby taking away the discomfort of a face to face discussion. This is a technique that I myself have used to talk to teens and one I have advised others to use as well. However, just before bedtime doesn't afford that same luxury, so the face to face conversation can't be the key.

 

After some thought, I realized that teens feel good talking to their parent in these three instances because each one allows a quick exit. This mirrors the Torah view on fair fighting in war. The Torah tells us that when the Jews went to battle they were not allowed to surround the enemy on all four sides. They had to leave some escape route when attacking. A teenager at "war" is no different.

 

The dinner table allows one to cut a conversation short by concentrating on food, the average car ride is only 20 minutes so the car allows the same when reaching a destination or through distractions from traffic and just before bedtime a child can plead tired and cut a conversation short by going to bed. Just like with the enemy, a child always needs a way out. For a teen to feel comfortable talking to their parent they can't feel locked in.

 

Of course, if a teenager poses a danger to themselves or anyone else we must lock them in to get the information we need, but other than in cases of danger we must allow our child some leeway.

 

Parents should look for opportunities to talk to their children about important things. Even if a child looks sullen or sounds upset that their parent is doing their job, parents must take the time to speak to their teen about things which they deem important.

A smart parent
will take the Torah's advice of how to deal with the enemy and tune into their teens needs by finding a time to talk to them when they feel safe that they will be able to make a quick exit.    

  

Read more articles by Rabbi Hecht 

Rabbi Hecht's Website:  www.sheahecht.com  

 

 
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