Do You Speak “Teen-ese”?

I highly respect the work that Dr. Tim Elmore does with teenagers. Since I have two teenagers in my home, one of his latest blog posts about communicating with teens caught my attention. He asked 16- to 24-year-olds their preferred method of communication. Their response:

1. Text messaging

2. Internet (i.e.

3. iPods and Podcasts

4. Instant messaging

5. Cell phone

6. DVD / CD

7. Books

8. Email

Email is last? Yep! Not only last, but described by one teen as the method for communicating with “old people.”


But as a parent, if I truly want to communicate with my teenagers, I have to learn to speak Teen-ese. It’s selfish of me to try to ask my teenager to communicate the way I’m most comfortable (that would be email, if you hadn’t guessed). If I’m going to get their attention, I need to speak the way they speak.

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that he did the same thing. He said, “I try to find common ground with everyone.” Paul’s native language—his most comfortable language—would have been speaking to Jews in the synagogue about Christ fulfilling Old Testament law.

But he stretched himself. He learned to speak to non-Jews … to those who knew nothing about the Hebrew Old Testament … to those who worshipped idols … to those who were humanistic philosophers … to soldiers … to slaves … to government officials … to everyone.

Parents, don’t try to make your teenagers talk to you in your comfortable language.

Learn Teen-ese. Make it a goal to understand them, instead of trying to make them understand you. By this, you will show your love and earn their ear.

(Watch for a review on Dr. Elmore’s latest book—Generation iY—coming later this week.)

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