Communication with a Middle Schooler

communication between mom and preteen sonGavin and Mom sit down at the table after dinner. Earlier, Gavin asked for permission to hang out at the park with friends late at night. Rather than argue with him after she said no, Mom gave him the opportunity to try a different way of communicating. She hopes that by making sure they hear each other, he will feel empowered.

Creative Communication

She will give him some arguments he might use to convince her that going is a good idea. Then, he must give reasons that his mom said no. He hopes that she will change her mind. Although, given the dangers, that’s unlikely. She hopes that he will learn to look at both sides of this issue and others that come up in the future.

“Let me go first, Gavin. Here are some of your reasons for wanting to go to the park: to be with friends, to feel older because of the special privilege of being out late, and to avoid embarrassment if your friends might think I’m babying you. Also, you might think I don’t trust you if I say no.

Gavin looked surprised. “You don’t trust me, or you’d let me go.”

“Gavin, we’ve talked about this before. I don’t trust the situation, and in this case, the people who might be out there other than your friends. Okay, your turn. Why do I say no?”

“There’s that thing you just said: There might be bad people out there. You’ve also told me in the past that it’s hard to be the one saying no to a group, if they decide to do something dangerous. So, I guess you’re afraid of how I’ll handle peer pressure. And, how about this one—you don’t want me to grow up?”

“Are you kidding? Of course, I want you to grow up. I can’t imagine being an old woman still trying to keep up with a thirteen-year-old. (Laughs)

“Gavin, the answer is still no, but I will do two things to make this easier. I’ll help you with how you can save face when you tell your friends. Also, I’ll offer an alternative to the park. How about a midnight meeting in your fort? No adults. We’ll be inside the house. The big advantage of being in our yard is the plateful of chocolate chip cookies and the drinks I’ll provide. And, you’ll have the support of a big dog for guard duty.

“How about it?”

Question: What are techniques you use so you and your preteen see each other’s viewpoints? Do you have some communication advise for parents of middle schoolers?

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