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Column Time Again

Talking To Teenagers
column for Pacific Publishing May 23, 2007

I'm a firm believer in keeping the lines of communication open between parents and teenagers. If you can't bribe them or threaten them with taking away the car keys yet, then I say sitting down and talking to them should be given a chance. Much to the chagrin of my two teenagers, I do this quite often. Talk to them, I mean. On occasion I've even taken the liberty of doing so in public, clearly violating the unwritten teenage law that parents should not be seen nor heard from in any setting outside the home, unless the teen has been maimed by a runaway grocery cart and is now spurting blood from more than two arteries. Then and only then is it permissible for a parent to speak to their teenager and for the bleeding teen to acknowledge the existence of their progenitors.

My son and I have a unique relationship in that when we talk, our conversation is seldom recognized by other adults as communication. It's viewed more as a stand up comedy routine by two very disturbed individuals.

The other morning as I was driving him to school, we had an enlightening chat.

Me: “Hijo, I think there's something we need to talk about”
Son: “ok, madre, what is it?”
(note: He's been taking Spanish for two years and appears to have learned two words, madre and hijo. I'm ever so proud)
Me: “Do you realize you've been a great disappointment to me?”
Son: (laughing) “Wow Madre, that's really harsh”
Me: “Well, you know I believe in being honest with you at all times. Painfully so.”
Son: “Yeah, I guess so Mom”
Me: “It's not that we don't love you, we do. It's know....we were hoping for a little more out of you”
Son: “Like what?”
Me: “Super powers would have been nice. Would it have killed you to have been bitten by a radioactive spider?”
Son: “Like you would let me play with spiders”
Me: “I let you play with your little sisters”
Son: “They're not radioactive”
Me: “Not yet”

When he turned sixteen, I decided it was time for The Talk. Yes I know, it was probably too early to do it, but I believe in preparing our youth for what's ahead. I'm nothing if not proactive.

Me: “ Happy birthday sweetheart"
Son:: "Thanks Madre"
Me: "Hijo, now that you're sixteen, I think it's time for The Talk"
Son: "Uh, I don't think so madre"
Me: "Yes son, It's time. Now, you're going to start noticing some changes in..."
Son: "MOM!"
Me: "..your body. Don't be worried, it's all just a natural part of.."
Son; "MOM!"
Me: "...getting older. Now you will begin to notice that girls are different from you...."
Son: (laughing) "You're not funny, Mom!"
Me: "There's nothing funny about this Chris. It's called puberty, you may have heard that word before. Don't be frightened by it, it's all natural. Are there any questions you would like to ask me about puberty?"
Son: "Uh, no, mom. I'm good, thanks anyway”
Me: “I'm just here to help”

Last night I was cooking dinner in the kitchen and he began to question me from the family room. Heaven forbid he get up and walk to where I was to take a look at what I was making.

Son: “Mmm, that smells good, what are you cooking?
Me: “Food”
Son: “what kind of food?”
Me: “The edible kind”
Son: “What kind of edible food?”
Me: “The kind you put in your mouth”
Son: “What's it called?”
Me: “Dinner”
Son: “What is it?”
Me: “Food”
Son: “I know it's food, but what kind of food?”
Me: “The edible kind”
Son: “Arggggh!”
Me: “Did you think you were going to win this one?”

So in conclusion, remember it's important to keep those lines of communication open between yourself and your teens. If only to embarrass them.


  1. You mean it is actually possible to communicate with them?

  2. At least you did not go and compound it all by writing about it all over the internet.

  3. As they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

  4. see all that made perfect sense to me. i raised a girl.

  5. Ha Ha!! Keep it up, that is GREAT. Some of my best memories are of my mom taking the piss when I was a kid.


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