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Teenage Girls - Miss Comunication?

Updated on January 11, 2012

Teen Talk - Live

Chris is taking “Teen Talk” on the road. If you are a member of a parent group or responsible for finding engaging speakers for student or youth groups, please contact Chris at

Miss Communication

There is another lesson to be gleaned from my early days in kindergarten. I was walking home, and found myself a few steps behind one of my students. She was holding her mother’s hand, and animatedly chatting away about her day. I was intrigued and listened in. It was amazing. The little girl was telling her Mom about her day in extraordinary detail, the only problem was, everything she was saying was made up. Her day bore no relation to the one I had shared with her. It was a fantasy, beautifully told, with only the location and characters bearing any semblance to the real world. The lesson is clear; the student’s perspective can be very different from the adult.

Please remember that when your little darling shares their day with you, especially if your initial reaction is to go in and “sort something out”.

There are several phrases that, at some time or another, you will hear.

“The teacher yelled at me.”

Translation: “The teacher told me to do something that I did not particularly want to do.” (Like; sit down, stop talking, or do my work.)

“I hate you!”

Translation: “I hate you right now, but I won’t in a little while and you had still better love me.”

“Leave me alone!”

Translation: “Give me my space, but don’t go too far ‘cause I might need something.”

“Everyone else‘s mother lets them.”

Translation: “Some kid somewhere has probably been allowed to.”

“My teacher hates me.”

Translation: “My teacher said my name, and asked me to do something.”

Or “My teacher never calls on me,”

Or “My teacher might have said something that I missed, because I was talking to Jessica, and then she said I should listen to her.”

Or “I had to turn something in that I forgot and the teacher reminded me.”

Or “My teacher yelled at me.” (See above…)

The art of interpreting the above phrases comes with experience. On the page they look fairly bland, but accompanied by eye rolls, pouts, door slams, foot stomps or damning glares, they become a potent weapon in the teens’ armory. In addition, silence can be deployed as a weapon, sometimes left to stand alone, or combined with a withering comment that cuts to the quick. This is the age where they discover “scarcasm,” sarcastic remarks that leave a mark on your soul, and when they use it well, it can have you doubting everything you thought you knew.

When this happens to you, the old adage “sticks and stones” goes completely out of the window. Words really can wound, leaving scars that never quite heal. But while you shout back, or walk away shaking, the teen has already pressed the reset button and has moved on. I have spoken to many teens about the impact of their words, and it would be fair to say that, in many cases, if not most, they have no idea how hurt we adults can be. In their egocentric world, we have no issues, no history, no past, and no feelings that matter, certainly none as important as their own feelings.

You cannot assume that your shocked response, or tears, or even your angry words, will bridge that particular gap. You will need, at a later time, to patiently express how that made you feel. If you can, slip it in when your child has one of their swings into one of those rare, I-do-love-you-really, moments. Think of it as emotional coaching, rather than anything with a disciplinary component. This is the perfect time to begin with a genuine apology if you responded, shall we say, negatively.

“I wish you had never been born,” is a hard statement to apologize for, but as an example of things that are said, without thought, and in the heat of the moment, it is a good example. You meant to say, “The way you are hurting me, makes me wish…” The emphasis is on the momentary feeling, rather than an expression of negating their very existence.

The teen’s reaction is the epitome of “in the moment”, in exactly the same way. “I hate you,” really means “right now” because of what you are saying or doing. It is important to distinguish between long held feelings and emotional outbursts, because the confusion is fed by the quasi-logic of, “You wouldn’t say it if, deep down, you didn’t really mean it.”

The fact that there could be a kernel of truth, a nagging component that begrudges, is not the most important thing here. It is about finding a level of honesty you can both live with, i.e. adult communication, based on nuances rather than absolutes.

And good luck with that. This is not a science, but resides in the primordial soup of emotional development. We have a tendency in our relationships to talk about honesty, but mask many feelings. Done for the right reasons, it can actually be a key to success in interpersonal relationships. But, it is important to recognize that this is a skill, a determinant of maturity, so to expect the changelings to learn it without some road-bumps on the way is unrealistic.


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    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      The really good news, they do come back after their journey through Hormone Hell, and often better. Patience, patience, patience, we need it in spades!

      Thanks for reading,

      And good luck,


    • Diffugere_nives profile image

      Diffugere_nives 7 years ago

      This is a great hub. Love the bit about honesty. My daughter sometimes uses logic more than emotion, so we talk everything through until she feels she has a grip on it. Honesty in different forms was one of the hardest bridges to cross for both of us. I have to admit that I love her sarcasm when used in jest, sense of humour seems to really come out in this same age group. I'm trying to appreciate each glimmer of innocence that I still have, only about six months ago my daughter said to me " Mum, I don't want to be a teenager, I've seen them and heard them and I don't want to tell you I hate you or ignore you because I love you and I always will " though I'll never forget that moment but I wish I had a recording of it.

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      What SHE meant to say................classic.....

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      I can believe that. Carla is a very good mother, one of the most maternal types. But I can observe the communication gap at times and I suppose that it's also a case of sometimes being in a rut of thinking, whereas - especially with teenagers - it's essential to be "right here, right now" when responding to them or attempting to communicate successfully. Otherwise, they just tune one out, or give smart-aleck replies, or become argumentative. The teen will set the mood if the parent doesn't set an open flow based on actual attention.

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      And please have her ask any questions she might have. I realize that I have a wealth of experience that can be really helpful to others, I just lacked a medium. I'm starting to get some good feedback from these hubs, but I'd rather be more proactive.

      I would say that 99% of what I dealt with on a daily basis had a lack of communication combined with incorrect assumptions, at its root.

      Good to hear from you,


    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      I truly must relay this hub to my granddaughter, whose two teenagers of her own are quite a handful, even though they're "good kids". Thank you, Chris!

    • ChrisLincoln profile image

      ChrisLincoln 7 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California


      It is always a possibility that this teacher has a poor attitude, but in my experience, especially with teachers of higher level classes, the teacher is deliberately setting the bar high. High expectations for students still need to be reasonable, but, for example, I would not compromise on work being turned in on time, or presentation, or (the usual issue with brighter kids), not showing the work. The last is a huge bone of contention, but it illustrates the difficulty inherent in an asignment which the student sees as "Task Completion" and the teacher sees as reinforcing the process.

      Over time, the process needs to become habit to have success in higher levels of math, the fact that the student can do it in their head is a total red herring. Often, easy examples are used to allow practice of the process, even giving the student the "answers" to show which part the emphasis is on.

      On the other hand, she could be a very unhappy person!

      If in doubt, have a conversation with the teacher. Keep my explanation in mind, keep an open mind, and if things work as they should, your children should learn the appropriate lessons for this time, and discover (usually later) that they were well prepared when it comes to following years.

      Anyway - thanks for reading,


    • CarolineChicago profile image

      Caroline Paulison Andrew 7 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Good hub. Never heard the "my teacher hates me" until 6th grade honors math. Somewhere between 6th grade dramatics and stone sober assessment was the truth. Have two more children facing the same teacher, starting next year. So, I might get a better picture. We'll see . ..