As you may remember, I’ve been writing my book this week. With my nose stuck deep into my computer keyboard for hours every day, I have found myself having fun with metaphors. And then suddenly I worried that I’m the only one who has any idea what I’m even saying. So I’d love for you to play a game with me: Does this metaphor even work?


The only way your teenager will stop start listening to you is if you stop talking.

There are a couple of common down-falls that parents make around this point. Some parents just get discouraged from lack of feedback. Other parents get overzealous and talk louder and longer, hoping that will help. Really, neither of these are good approaches. In order to fully maximize the influence your words and opinions have with your teenager, you need to minimize them.

Imagine a point you wish to make with your teenager as a balloon, the kind you find filled with helium at birthday parties. This is the point you want to make with your teenager. Imagine filling it up with helium  until and watching it bobs around nicely on the ceiling. You’re rather proud of your balloon-point. You think it is succinct and wise.

Now imagine the same event from the perspective of a teenager. Your parent has brought in this huge hot air balloon, and is rapidly blowing it up. It fills the entire room, and you’re pushed into your chair, and your chair is pushed up against the wall. The enormity of your parent’s balloon has overwhelmed you, and you’re not fully able to either grasp all of it or respond to something so enormous.

This illustrates the difference in perspective that I often see in teenagers and their parents about the same conversation. As a parent, you have to use your words and your thoughts very, very sparingly. Each single sentence that you say burrows down inside your teenager and wiggles around, bumping up against your teenager’s private thoughts and feelings. Use that power wisely and you fill find it has great effect.


And then, of course, regardless of whether it works, is it useful?