How To Get Your Teen To Talk To You

How To Get Your Teen To Talk To You

by Connie Grigsby, Kent Julian

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Communication between parents and teens is at an all-time low. Besides marriage, this is the area where adults seem to struggle most. This user-friendly book will help readers get inside their teen's mind, showing them what turns today's teen on and off in terms of communication. Topics include: Ten Best Ways to Kill a Conversation, Language Barriers, Don't Be


Communication between parents and teens is at an all-time low. Besides marriage, this is the area where adults seem to struggle most. This user-friendly book will help readers get inside their teen's mind, showing them what turns today's teen on and off in terms of communication. Topics include: Ten Best Ways to Kill a Conversation, Language Barriers, Don't Be Afraid to Say No, and Gender Differences and Communication. How to Get Your Teen to Talk to You is chock-full of fresh ideas and simple techniques that will encourage teens to open up!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Grigsby, a teacher and the coauthor of How to Get Your Husband to Talk to You, and Julian, a youth pastor, don't claim to have all the answers to communication difficulties in this earnest guide, but they offer a wealth of succinct suggestions in 52 short, energetic chapters. Bullet-points, current statistics, personal stories and summarizing statements help parents navigate topics such as autonomy, trust, anger and discipline. The authors spend considerable time on "linguistics lessons"; whether teens talk meaningfully with their parents, after all, has much do with how parents talk and listen to their teens. Cutesy tips (put positive statements on either side of a negative one in a "huggie sandwich") are balanced by sound counsel (model good conflict-resolution skills with your spouse) and an eye-opening reference or two (a recent survey showed that 70% of teenagers identified their parents as the most influential people in their lives). While most of the chapters consider familiar topics such as family meetings and peer pressure, the authors also take a stab at analyzing the modern world in chapters like "Decoding Postmodernism" and "Technologically Advanced, Media Numbed." For parents seeking conservative, faith-based advice, this will make a useful guide. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt


A Parental Job Description

The trouble with being a parent is that by the time you’re experienced…you’re unemployed.

The job description of a parent is to provide a secure environment that champions solid standards.

Obviously, every kid at every age needs this. But with teens,
such an environment provides fertile ground for them to respect and trust us, look to us for guidance, and talk more honestly and openly with us.

So what does this haven of rest—with unconditional love as its foundation—look like?

This safe haven is framed with standards—the plumb line by which life is measured and the starting point for discerning right from wrong.
These standards provide the structure for everyday life. And in many ways, they determine the very quality of life.

Do you ever wonder which standards you should champion? With the glut of belief systems today, how do you know which standards are best? Because the Bible is the ultimate and perfect source of standards, let God’s Word be your guide.

Parents’ actions speak volumes about their own standards. Because how we live—not what we say—is the clearest reflection of what we believe. When we reflect strength of character and love to our children,
we pass along those standards to them. And then, when they are no longer living under our roof, those standards will be their North
Star…pointing to abundant life.

The solid standards mentioned above can only be developed in a secure and loving environment. Teenagers need a safe and loving place where they can develop their own beliefs, values, and identities.

Are you providing this kind of environment? Does your teen feel safe enough to discuss anything and everything with you?

As a youth pastor, I (Kent) spend a lot of time talking to teenagers. Since recently moving back to Atlanta after several years, I
have reconnected with some of the guys, now in their late twenties,
who were in my first youth group fifteen years ago. One guy, whom
I’ll call Jay, always had a great relationship with his mom and dad.
When we recently met for coffee to catch up on old times, I asked him how his parents were doing. He proceeded to go off for ten minutes,
telling me how great they were and how much he respected them. As I
dug deeper, I asked him what made his parents so great. He replied without hesitation, “I’ve always been able to talk to them about anything.
They love me unconditionally.”

As Jay grabbed at the chance to talk about the secure environment his parents had created for him, I couldn’t help but think of a very different story—about a very different family. A few weeks earlier I had done some catching up with another guy named Blake. As we sipped our coffee (yes, I love coffee), he asked my advice on a number of issues. When I asked him what his parents’ take was on these things,
he said, “We don’t talk about stuff like this. My family is detached relationally.”

Amazing! Here was a young man, almost thirty years old, who still didn’t feel safe enough with his parents to discuss issues that were very important to him.

Like we said…security is a big deal.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
But when it comes to relating to teens, we would have to say: “You can’t fool any of them ever!”

Yes, when it comes to character, teens have a sixth sense. They can smell a fake a mile away. If we don’t live what we say we believe, they’ll see right through us. Even more, they’ll never confide in us because they don’t feel they can trust us to safely guide them in the right way.
But, if they can trust us to point them in the right direction, down a path we are already on ourselves, they will look to us for guidance.

Bottom Line: Teens talk more honestly and openly in a secure home environment where solid standards are championed.


Authenticity Is Huge

Actions speak louder than words, especially for parents and pastors.
-Jenna, 15

In May of 1990, my (Connie) dad had quintuple bypass surgery. My youngest daughter and I flew to Oklahoma to be with my parents while my husband and twins stayed back at our home in Omaha. For the next week we became extremely familiar with the hospital. In fact,
when my cousin Jeanette asked my not quite two-year-old daughter where her new home was, she replied, “The hospital.”

Since visiting hours were limited, we had a lot of time on our hands and would often visit the hospital gift shop. On one such visit, a plaque on the wall caught my attention.

Small and simply framed were these poignant words:

Your walk talks
And your talk talks
But your walk talks more
Than your talk talks.

As we briefly mentioned earlier, teens are geniuses at zeroing in on hypocritical behavior. If we want our teens to talk to us and—far more than that—if we want our teens to respect us, we need to make certain our walk and our talk line up.

For instance, let’s say Johnny just turned thirteen. As he and his dad walk toward the ticket booth at the movie theater, they both look at the large sign indicating ticket prices are five dollars for children,
ages three to twelve; and ten dollars for adults, ages thirteen and older.
Dad and son look at each other and give the signal—they’ve done this before. Johnny is thirteen, not twelve, but Dad buys him a childpriced ticket anyway—both know they’ll spend the “saved” money on concessions. Of course, the ticket agent doesn’t question the dad because he doesn’t look like someone who would lie.

Dad may have thought he saved five dollars, and Johnny may be happy with his extra large popcorn and soda. But something of much greater value than a measly five dollars is at stake here: Johnny knows he’s thirteen. Dad’s probably told him that lying and stealing are wrong, but this little lesson in lying, cheating, and stealing says just the opposite.

Johnny may not know what the word integrity means, but in his gut he knows that the deception was wrong…and he knows his dad knows it too.

There really isn’t any such thing as a little white lie. Involving children in lying, cheating, and stealing is always a very big thing. And yet many parents don’t even think twice about telling their children to tell a caller that they’re not home—when they are! Or telling them to tell their teachers they were sick—when in fact you extended your family vacation.

On the one hand, we ask our kids to tell lies when it’s convenient for us, but then on that same day we ground them for lying to us when it’s convenient for them.

Talk about mixed messages! No wonder they don’t bother talking to us.

So this brings us to the question: Who wants to talk over the issues of life with a thief and a liar? Not anyone we know. Sure, our kids may still talk to us, but it won’t be about anything of much depth or significance.

Even if we are honest most of the time, our kids will still notice the couple of times we shade the truth to our own advantage…and they will wonder why we preach one message but live a different one.

Kids are smart. If we can’t be trusted to be honest with a five dollar difference in the price of a ticket, why should they trust us with what is near and dear to their teenage souls?

Bottom Line: Your character shouldn’t be “for sale.”

Meet the Author

Connie Grigsby, a University of Oklahoma graduate, enjoys pointing others towards life's bottom line. With warmth and humor, she exhorts others to refuse to be content with ho-hum living. Grigsby is a popular teacher and speaker involved in women's and youth ministries.

Kent Julian is the national director of the Christian and Missionary Alliance's Alliance Youth. He is a highly sought-after speaker for teenage and parent audiences who also writes for youth ministry magazines such as Youthworker, Group, and Junior High Ministry.

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