For our chapter on communication between parents and teens, Cynthia and I decided to ask students for their input. I spent an insightful 90 minutes with my 7th graders, gleaning enough material for several chapters. Here are a few of the highlights, as the kids see it:
- Parents expect kids to stop what they’re doing and pay attention to them, but they don’t always do the same for their kids.
- What parents consider “talking back” is considered “just having a conversation” or “just asking a question” by their kids.
- Kids are pleasantly surprised when parents listen to and support their ideas.
- Siblings are seen as a big distraction when there’s something important to discuss.
- Parents tend to jump to conclusions before the story has ended.
The bottom line? Somewhere between the ages of 11 and 13, middle schoolers start to need the same things adults do: to be listened to, to be understood, and to be taken seriously. If you want to hear what’s going on inside your kids’ hearts and heads, show them you’re interested by treating them the same way you would a friend or a co-worker.
And please – let them finish.