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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.