Subject Material

Communication between Teenagers and Parents

Published: 11.08.2009, Updated: 03.03.2017

Communication between people is a complex process. Often we have expectations, worries or attitudes that make us misunderstand things. When a teenager says: "I'll be careful", it does not really mean anything if he or she has taken great risks over and over again. When a dad promises to take his kids to the amusement park, but he just has to get some things done first, the kids might actually be "hearing" - "Sorry, you're not that important to me."

Miscommunication - Parents and Teenagers
Opphavsmann: BAVC_s YouthLink
The words may be right, but if we misinterpret what is being said or don’t have time to listen, miscommunication occurs. Over time, this may lead to big problems or conflicts. In the following video clip, four girls and a dad talk about their experiences from miscommunication or information gap. They all share a feeling of not being really listened to, even though their words have been heard. Some of them speak a bit fast, so you may need to listen a few times. Keep listening, even if there are a few comments that you don’t quite get.


  1. Mention three things that the girl in the intro is unhappy about regarding her parents’ treatment of her.

    They compare me to others
    They want me to stop going out
    They want me to improve my grades

  2. Why is trust so important in a relationship?
  3. How does the mom react to her daughter's two Cs (grades in her report card. A is best.)?
  4. What is the dad worried about?
  5. Does the dad feel that he is being taken seriously? Why/why not?
  6. Language is also a problem between first and second generation immigrants. How come?
  7. What is the difference between being heard and being understood?
  8. How does our modern society contribute to miscommunication?
  9. What are some of the bad long term effects miscommunication may have?
  10. At the very end, the narrator suggests a change of attitude both in teenagers and parents. What does she suggest?

Make a list

Make a list of 5 things to remember in order to avoid miscommunication.

  1. Remember to make eye contact with the person you are talking to.
  2. Always.....
  3. .
  4. .


  1. Would his interview have been different if boys were telling their stories? Would the father worry about other things? Would the teenagers themselves have the same frustrations?
  2. Could this interview just as well have been made in Norway? Explain why.
  3. Discuss the examples of misunderstandings in the introduction to this text. Are these typical? Come up with a few examples of your own.

Make an interview

Make a similar interview with one or two classmates. Write down a few questions before you start, but make sure to follow up on what is being said.

To the one being interviewed: Don’t let it get too personal. Make up some answers if you are not comfortable with the situation.


Write a personal essay where you discuss one of the following statements:
  1. Growing up was easier in the old days, when there was no long period of adolescence.
  2. The problem of parents is that they worry too much.
  3. In our society, we have too little respect for our parents - after all they know better from having been young themselves.
  4. These days parents and teenagers don’t have time to really sit down and talk. That’s why we get all these misunderstandings. We become strangers.
  5. Dear mum and dad – I’m more responsible than you think.
  6. Please worry - it's a crazy world out there!