Friday, July 9, 2010

What Middle School Kids Want to Talk About

Can your middle-school child talk to you? Most 10-14 year olds want a warm, close relationship with their parents. However, only about a quarter of adolescents nationwide find their parents “approachable and available to talk”
What do young teens want to talk about? A study appearing in the journal, Family Relations, asked a sample of middle school students, “’If you could ask your mom or dad any question and know you would get an honest answer, what question would you ask?’”

The largest percentage (44%) of youth turned in questions about family, especially questions about the parent-child relationship. They asked questions about rules and responsibilities, such as “’Are some of your rules really necessary?’” They also wondered about parental love and asked, “Do you think I am really important?’” Some questions had to do with feeling connected, such as, “Why don’t you have any time with me?” Trust and conflict also came up around issues of privacy and respect. Only 1 in 4 middle-schoolers turned in questions about dating, drugs, puberty and school, the topics that parents tend to talk about.

To keep the family relationship strong, parents will need to be open to listening to what their young adolescents want to talk about and not impose their own agenda. Youth may be less interested in talking about sensitive subjects, as parents would expect, and more likely to want to discuss understanding each other, getting along, expressing love, and understanding themselves.

Source: Richardson, R. A. (2004). Early adolescent talking points: Questions that middle school students want to ask their parents. Family Relations, 53, 87-94