Understanding Teen Language: A Mom’s Guide

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Understanding teen language without making yourself crazy is a full-time job. It takes patience (which I don’t typically have). It takes great listening skills (which can be sketchy at times, I admit). Sometimes it takes an over-sized margarita glass filled to the brim with 1800 Tequila. Or, an over-sized tub filled with lavender bubbles and Michael Buble tunes in the background. Whatever the coping skill applied, the challenge of understanding the teen language is real!

This excerpt from, “Yes, Your Teen is Crazy! Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind,” says it perfectly:

Successfully parenting an adolescent in today’s world requires levels of skill, endurance, wisdom, and strength that make piloting an aircraft pale in comparison. No joke. Most of all, parenting an adolescent requires training much more personally intense than any pilot can imagine. Simply having a conversation with your contemporary adolescent child can require special skills never before required. What you learned 30 years ago might have worked 30 years ago. You were trained on a Boeing 707. Do you really think you can safely fly the Concorde? Are you sure you can safely raise that 15-year-old? With the right retraining, the answer is yes!

I agree. Having a conversation with a teen is a lot like piloting an aircraft. I never know how long it will take to get off the ground. I definitely couldn’t tell you how long the trip will last and I’m pretty sure it could very likely come to a crashing end. What’s a Mom to do? Break out the Mom’s Thesaurus.


Understanding Teens – A Mom’s Thesaurus (MT) of Sorts

Teen:   We have NO food in this house!Understanding Teens

MT:      Shame on you for just getting back from the store and buying chicken, steak, fresh pasta, broccoli, salad, bananas, apples, grapes, strawberries, yogurt, eggs and milk!


Teen:   I need the book by tomorrow!

MT:      She’s known about this for two weeks. She wants to record the contortions your face will make when she drops it on you at 8:45p.m. and the book store closes at 9:00p.m. She knows she will get 536 likes when she posts the “Mom Meltdown” video on Instagram!


Teen:   My teacher is sooooo annoying.

MT:      She doesn’t feel like working on the new project that was assigned. She would rather go to her room, close the door and take 1,753 selfies and Snapchat them to her 896 “friends.”


Teen:   I don’t have any socks or t-shirts to wear.

MT:      She has 24 pairs of socks and 15 t-shirts, which all smell like a boy’s locker room on a 95- degree day after a day-long track meet. Her hamper is about to blow. Don’t lean over the top when you take the lid off — you may get knocked out and end up with a concussion.


Teen:   We just found out about the assignment yesterday.

MT:      See “I need the book by tomorrow,” above!


Teen:   I’m bored.

MT:      She forgot to charge her phone and it is dead. She doesn’t feel like doing her homework/studying. All her friends are busy or working. She doesn’t feel like taking a nap. She’s already finished binge watching Grey’s. So, now she is going to follow you around and talk in her teen voice… “Like you know that thing I told you about – it was LIT, she’s such a SAVAGE…GOALS. She’s so EXTRA!”


Teen:   I filled out the application.

MT:      She picked up the job application and brought it home. She filled in her name and phone number and then promptly shoved it in the back of the drawer. She has no idea where it is at the moment. But, she’s not lying because she did fill in some of the boxes on it. You didn’t ask her if she filled out the entire application or if she gave it to the manager. Remember to be specific with your questions, Mom!


Teen:   One sec.

MT:      Make yourself a cup of tea and go ahead and crack open that novel you’ve been meaning to start. You may even want to draw that bath we mentioned above…you’ve got plenty of time.


Sometimes they trick us and phrase it in the form of question. Don’t be alarmed. We’ve got you covered on that as well.


Teen:   When are we leaving?!Expert Teen Advice

MT:      She told you the wrong start time for the event and you will be the parent walking in during the middle of presentation with glaring, judgmental Mom eyes shooting darts at you!


Teen:   What’s for dinner?

MT:      When are we going to eat? Why haven’t you started cooking yet? What have you been doing all day, Mom? Remember when I told you we have NO food in the house? Get cracking!


Teen:   Why are you always yelling at me?

MT:      You’ve talked to her in a normal tone of voice about putting her clothes away… emptying the dishwasher… cleaning the bathroom… doing her laundry… washing her pasta pot that’s been sitting in the sink for two days, for the sake of everyone’s time reading this post, we’d better stop here!