The Life and Times of Poopwa Foley

Can you hear me now? Good…

Posted on: January 11, 2012

Are you having a hard time communicating with your youngster?  Do you talk to your child, only to have them roll their eyes?  Shrug their shoulders?  Mumble a barely audible response?  Shoot you a look of thinly disguised contempt?  All of the above?  Congratulations, you have a teenager. 

Not so long ago and far away, my lucky husband and I had THREE of them in the house at one time.  It was, quite simply, a magical experience.  And by magical I mean NOT magical.  No, not magical at all.  At one point or another, someone was mad at me, or my husband, or each other, or a significant other, sometimes, every other living, breathing human being in the house, AND the dog.  For fun, sometimes it’s more than one child who’s upset. 

There was a LOT of drama going on a few short years ago in our house (and not much has changed, to be quite honest…they’re just older.)  Hubby and I used to walk around on eggshells, never knowing who might be offended by the simple patter of our adult footfalls or sound of our laughter.  How dare we be happy, when they were so obviously miserable

The problem is, however, that teenagers don’t like to actually TALK to you about what is going on.  Parents of teenagers already know this.  They will certainly make you aware that they are upset, but to actually communicate with you?  That would be ridiculous.  It’s much more fun to keep you guessing why the door to their room is locked, or why they’re pushing around the food on their plate sullenly instead of shoveling it in like usual, or why they’re lying on the couch crying with a cell phone and a box of Kleenex.  Not telling you why.  Sobbing loudly, especially when you walk by.  

Do they not know that as parents, we have been through our share of issues?  Dating trouble, work trouble, personal issues, you name it.  Ask us for advice!  We LOVE to talk!  I realize there are issues that teens face now that weren’t around 20 years ago.  Case in point:  texting and instant messaging.  There were times when we’ve had to comfort one child or another because they got a text or instant message they thought was mean.    

We have tried, over and over, to explain to them that with those types of communication, you can’t hear an inflection.  What is written is not always what you think it means.  When reading a text, instant message or Facebook post, it is not only possible but likely that you may mistake their meaning for something else. 

It is absolutely perplexing to me why more teens won’t just pick up the phone and CALL each other already.   Communicate clearly.   (author’s note:  I actually DO know why they text.  It’s easier and quicker and you don’t have to leave a voice mail, and I guarantee you will get their voicemail because no one answers their phones…they’re too busy texting.) 

One way to get your child to communicate is by journaling with them.  Get a spiral notebook, and compose a chatty note to your teen in it.  Date it, and stick it under their pillow with a note that it’s now THEIR turn to write in it, to you.  You will be amazed at what they will spills out in the pages of those notebooks…things that they (especially girls) would NEVER tell you in person, but feel on paper they’re ok to share.    

(another author’s note:  I myself have used this technique and was gratified at how easily my youngest daughter agreed to “pass the notebook”.  I was also slightly shocked at some of the information she shared, but that’s a story for another day. ) 

Find different ways to interact with each child, if you have more than one.  Make sure you get to spend some alone time with each one.  Take them grocery shopping with you.  Despite the fact that you’ll end up with $20 in junk food in the cart, it will be fun.  Make a pit stop for ice cream.  Be yourself, joke around, and it’s a pleasant surprise when your child actually might start making conversation.  

Maybe then, you can both LOL.

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  • Mary Fran Says: Thank you for contributing to Sweeps Week! We make a great team. Maybe we'll collaborate in our next lives? SISTERS! lol :)
  • Mary Fran Says: What's better than a Baby Shower aka Early Baby Birthday Party? Baby's FIRST Birthday Party! (Although it's hard to call them "baby" by one! They grow
  • Ann Jones: I'll have to check it out, thanks for the heads up!

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