teenager and parent at computer

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

You may have been lucky enough to travel to exotic locales – maybe you’ve tasted rat in Asia or zip-lined over the Amazon forest. But there’s one exotic adventure every teen must experience – visiting the realm of the adult world. Why do teachers insist you look them in the eye? Why do parents make you turn your cell phone off at the dinner table? They do have their reasons and understanding those reasons is the key to everyone getting along. Read on to learn how to avoid those pitfalls that are the most frequent causes of arguments.

Show Respect for Authority

If you’re going to miss a class or a shift at work for a doctor’s appointment, don’t say, “I’ll be out Friday for a doctor’s appointment” but “Is it ok if I miss Friday for a doctor’s appointment?” Yes, the result will be the same – everyone knows you can’t miss that appointment – but you’ll leave your teacher or boss feeling all warm and gooey inside. Why? By asking the question it shows that you recognize that they have the final say in whether you’re at work or in class.

Parents may not understand texting lingo, have you read our article on texting codes?

Recognize the Technology Generation Gap

Remember that adults didn’t grow up in a world of cell phones and online chatting. As a result, talking to a person face-to-face is totally different from talking on the phone, emailing, or texting.

“It’s a cultural thing, not an age thing,” says Neil McNerney, a licensed professional counsellor who works with teens and their families in Virginia.

In other words, you may always feel the same way about communication technology even as you get older, but your parents may never get it. This means:

  1. If you have friends around, adults are happy to have them join in on the conversation, but they hate it when you text with your friend while talking to them. “You see texting as an extension of who you are as a group. We see it as an intrusion,” says McNerney.
  2. When you tell an adult you talked to someone, they want to know how – face-to-face, by phone, texting? It may not matter to you, but to an adult, the experience of communicating is greatly affected by how it’s done. Also, how do you know they got the email or text? Some adults can go days without turning on our phone or computer (really!)

Educate Your Parents

Older brains just can’t figure out how you get homework done while listening to music, checking out Facebook, and texting your friends. They could never do it, so how can you? Or could they …? It might help if you explain to your parents that texting, Facebooking, or emailing your friends is your way of doing homework in a group, the way they did when they were teens. Your group is virtual; theirs were real.

Incidentally, when your parents give you a hard time about your homework it helps to keep in mind that they’re bugging you because they’re worried. Want to head off a fight? Try this strategy suggested by McNerney. “Say, ‘ok, we both want the homework completed on time and completed well.’ Then explain how you think you are going to get to that goal. … When you tell your parents what your plan is, you’re relieving their worries, and that’s a great thing to do for your parents if you care for and love them.”

Did you read our article on talking to your kids about social media?