Why Do Parents and Teenagers Miscommunicate?

October 21, 2012 by John Andrew Williams

Often without realizing it, teenagers make a series of small decisions that begin to have a big effect the rest of their life. Do I do my homework or not? Do I study for this test and get the B or am I happy with a C? Do I pursue an interest and talent, or do I chill out and watch movies?

Parents, with the advantage of seeing what adult life demands, have an insight and knowledge that students just don’t yet have.

Teenagers, by design of their brains, are built to test boundaries and do sophomoric things.

Yet the real tragedy occurs when there is miscommunication about the important things, such as, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

I was working with a student who thought her parents wanted her to go to a certain kind of school. She told me numerous times that her parents would never think of sending her to a specialty school. For three months I was working with her thinking that she’s going to have a tough conversation with her parents about what she really wanted, why she wanted it, and how she was going to be successful.

I talked with her parents last night, and I brought up the topic of where they thought she should go to college.

I was shocked, literally almost crying, first from the happiness of realizing that the parents wanted their daughter to attend a specialty school, then from the terror thinking of how such a crucial miscommunication could have persisted for so long.

The real tragedy is that such miscommunications happen, often, and without either the teen or parent realizing it.

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