Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 23, 1974 · Page 71
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June 23, 1974

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 71

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, June 23, 1974
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Page 71
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How to Converse With a Teenager- Maybe Bv Stanlev S. Jacobs A professor I know came up with a jolting statistical nugget recently: the average Mom and Pop utter an average of 30,000 words a day. That's a lot of talk. It is almost half the length of an average novel. Wisely, the educator did not attempt to break this down into how many words are exchanged with -- not hurled at -- teenaged members of the families surveyed. But as another statistician (with kids of his own) said wryly when shown the professor's findings: "I'll bet my shirt that of these 30,000 daily words, very few are spoken in meaningful conversation with young people, whether they are one's own kids or teenagers on the campus, at the drug store, bowling alley, gas station or beach. For the simple truth is that few of us oldsters over 35 have the knack of communicating with youngsters. It's an art about as rare as the ability to engrave the Lord's Prayer on the head of a pin!" ,As one father on our street told me: "I don't have trouble with the language my two teenaged boys speak. The words I understand. I'm also sure they comprehend the English I use. But getting to them is the problem. 'Dad, please pass the gravy', or, 'Mom, I need the car tomorrow' is hardly a substitute Jor real conversation. If my wife and I try to speak with the boys about any subject in which a real exchange of thoughts are involved, all we get are polite but chilling stares and little half-smiles as if we weren't quite right mentally." * The teen-agers, on the other hand, have biting observations of their own to make about adult efforts to engage them in conversation -- or adult reluctance to talk frankly. Here are some comments from young people I consulted: Betty K--, a 17-year-old high school girl with a B-plus average: "My parents don't accept my feelings as real! If I'm moody, they try to order me out of my 'blues', or they attempt bribery, such as a new dress; or they poke fun at me for being a spoil-sport in the family. Neither Mom nor Dad ever takes time to sit down and find out what really bugs me. "It's as if they're afraid of serious conversation with their own daughter." Rodney S--, a 16-year- old youth aspiring to a college scholarship: "My Dad thinks that giving advice is a substitute for real conversation. Oh, he'll give me orders and suggestions without end, but if I want to find out what he really thinks about something -- whether it's dating, cheating on exams, politics, or religion -- he clams up. Talk with my Dad is a one- way street. His way." Robert G--. age 15, a high-school sophomore: "I can't talk in confidence with my Dad because he tells my Mom. or jokes about what I say. 1 know -some of my friends told me that their fathers heard my Dad talk about my 'half- baked' ideas. I'd really like to talk about serious things with him. but he still thinks I'm about eight years old. He probably would like to send my r e m a r k s to the 'Bright Sayings of Children' Editor. That's why I tell him very little now." » There always has been a communication gap between the generations. But that gap has become a yawning chasm. In an era of instant sight-and-sound via satellite. radio and TV, and newspapers and magazines in abundance, the exchange of opinions and confidence between adults and young people is infrequent or non-existent in too many families. And when parents or other adults do try to edge into the conversation of teen-agers -- their own children or others -- they often come a cropper by talking either too promptly or too knowingly. One of my friends is a successful 45-year-old attorney who wonders why his two sons never bring their friends to his house any more. Here is the way the lawyer's older boy, age 17, put it: "Pop tries to be cordial to my friends, but he can't keep from talking like he's in court. He uses big words, emphasizes what he thinks, and constantly mentions important names to impress the kids. They think he's an awful bore." Just as inept is another man I know, a 50-year-old executive whose son became a member of a hot-rod club sponsored by a suburban pol- ice department in the interest of safety. This father on Saturdays visited the garage where the high school boys worked on their cars, tinkered w i t h engines, and swapped auto talk. His son complained. "Dad read one or two car magazines and thought he knew our lingo. A c t u a l l y he doesn't know a cam from a valve. He just made himself look ridiculous, hanging around and spouting about car engines and transmissions in an effort to be known as a good guy. The fellows would have liked him better jf he admitted he knew nothing about cars and asked us questions. They cooled him off and he doesn't come around any more. I'm glad." But getting through to teen-agers conversationally can be accomplished, with persistence, insight, and a little luck. Simply by respecting your youngster's privacy, but being available, sympathetic, and interested, you may be able to achieve a relaxed give-and-take of. viewpoints and ideas which will help your son and daughter take a giant step toward maturity- *· One of the worst roadblocks to conversation with teenagers is the mother or father who loses patience in the middle of a discussion. Such a parent is apt to bark something like: "You'd better listen to what 1 say! I'm older and have had a world of experience." This laying down of the law in the midst of conversation is the surest way of cut off all communication and make it difficult to start talking again with young people. On the other hand, it is unwise to be bland or non- commital when your teen- M/NCEMEATvte a gatf way of stretching a meager meat supply in the old days, and often trie meat used was venison, w can also make mincemeat from those, tiny scrape oPfneat that can't fie used fbr steaks, roosts, etc. bony pieces until meat canto picked from tones, ton enough through a home meat grinder topnx ' " · meat. 2. Grind up 6 oranges anas lemons, peels and all. Also grind enough apples (cored tot not peeled} to make 8 cups of apples. 3. Mh these Ingredients and add 6 cups of* sweetening, 'use half white and half town sugar, or portions of molasses, honey, ordarksyrup, depending onyourpreference.) 4. Stir in 1 tbsp. cinnamon, itosp. wtmy t itsp allspice, ftsp.cfwesjttsp.salt and 6 pounds seediest raisins. 1 Good Earth Almanac . into jars andpreswrc, can. . Thenpour MINGEMSATISA mPOURRI OF ITEMS. Almost anythino 6-23 i jw desire may to added-try using c#rots t curr*ntt,dates, . fi$s, candied fruits, dried fruits or nuts. When adding fruits\ addatttoforangejuiceor sweet cider to make more liquid. ' ager shows persistent hostility to your authority, or to other adults. By probing, you may be able to discover why youth is antagonistic But by harshly rejecting a young person's words and ending a conversation on an "I know best 'note, you will only succeed in making renewed conversation more difficult. » Teen-agers, once you penetrate their reserve, frequently are intensely interested in God, religion, and moral values. Their questions, even if belligerent or doubting, may hide uncertainty and hope. The wise adult will try to answer such questions sincerely, in accord with his own religious convictions. If you feel ill-equipped to answer such queries or to counsel a young person, then you would be wise to admit your inadequacy and refer the other person to a clergyman and to helpful books which may shed light on theological and philosophical questions. Here are other tips which may help you unfreeze conversationally your own teenagers: ·· Don't be eager to agree to everything a youngster says, just to be a good guy. If he says something outrageous or wrong to which you react strongly, speak up! You may fear that he will think your view of life is "square"; but if this is the way you feel, say so. Youngsters joke about "squares" but they respect conviction and forthrightness. On the other hand, affably agreeing with every faddish or shallow view voiced by young people to make them accept you -merely convinces them that you are superficial and afraid of arguing with them. Many parents, teachers, and youth leaders mistakenly think they will lose a younster's friendship if they say No! But most young people secretly respect and admire the older person who can say no and mean it. Be patient while trying to snare a teen-ager's attention before you speak. Adolescents usually are preoccupied with many things: sports, girls, boys, grades, hairdos, clothing, music. Fortunately, they also brood about such subjects as truth, justice, civil rights, fair play, war, and peace. . But you must win interest. to have conversation. You can't demand attention, but if you are humorously insistent you usually will get a tolerant nod and half-an-ear. How you convert this semi- interest into" earnest conversation will depend on your own verbal skill, personality and resourcefulness. *- Make time for household and leisure activities which will induce conversation. If Mom is washing or ironing, and Dad is reading a sports magazine, the chances for satisfying talk between parent and youngster is virtually nil. *· Lastly, remember that you no longer are the focus of your teen-ager's life. To young children, parents are omnipotent, ever-present and necessary. But adolescents view parents quite differently: To them we are 6m CHARLESTON, W. VA. June 23, 1974, Sunday Gazette-Mail

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