If you have a teenager, or maybe even blessed with a few, you would be well aware when you ask them a question, teenagers aren’t great at explaining exactly what’s
going on with them.
Here are some helpful tips for translating their answers, so you know what they’re really saying:
You: “How was school today?”
Translation: School was exhausting, especially dealing with the three Rs: rules, relationships, and recess. Oh, and the schoolwork was hard too.
You: “How are you feeling?”
Translation: I don’t always have the words for how I’m feeling. So, you know, I’m fine.
You: “Is everything OK?”
Teenager: “I don’t know”
Translation: My feelings are all over the place and ten times stronger than yours. The nice ones, and the not-so-nice ones. So, I actually don’t know.
You: “What do you want to do?”
Teenager: “Don’t care”
Translation: I still don’t know how I’m feeling, so it’s even harder making a decision based on it.
You: “What’s the matter?”
Translation: I really just need you to listen to how I feel and what’s going on with me, not impart your manifold wisdom and try to fix things.
You: “You need to do better than that”
Translation: I often don’t feel good enough; to my friends, to you, and most of all, to myself.
You: Can you please come out of your room, get off your phone, and take off your headphones?
Translation: I love you and I need you around so, so much (Just not all the time; I really need time to be me).
You: “Are you almost ready?”
Translation: You’re going to be at least thirty minutes late.
As the Year 7 Level Coordinator at Glasshouse Christian College, I spend a significant amount of time helping a hundred newly turned teenagers feel heard. The most important thing I’ve learned is, at the end of the day, your teenager desperately needs to know that though they are so unsure of themselves and their future, you as their parents are not. You love them for who they are now, and you love to see them growing, slowly, into the young man or woman God has destined them to be.
Larry McKeown, Year 7 Coordinator