Talking with Teenagers


Here is a story of a mother who has learned to acknowledge rather than deny her child’s perception.

The family planned to go to Florida two days before school ended. When Cary, age thirteen, heard about the timing, he became upset and said: “I can’t leave before school ends. I’ll miss too much work!”

FATHER: Don’t be ridiculous. They don’t do anything in school before vacation!

CARY: That’s not true. You don’t know what it’s like to miss even one day!

FATHER: Big deal — two days! The teachers will be cleaning up to go on vacation themselves.

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This conversation became more bitter. Mother suddenly became aware of what was wrong. She heard an inner voice. “Don’t deny a child’s perception.” To Cary she said, “In the eighth grade missing two days can mean a great deal. You’ll have a lot of work to make up. Maybe you would prefer to stay home, or take a later flight and meet us.” Cary immediately perked up. Mother continued: “Or maybe you can discuss it with your teachers and take along some extra work. Think about what you’d like to do and let us know. After all, we need not jeopardize your position in school just for a few days of vacation.” … Cary very soon said, “Let me think it over, I’ll find a solution.”

-Dr. Haim Ginott, Between Parent & Teenager

Jesse McCarthy