What We’re Reading: Teenage as a Second Language

By Dannie McClain

Hmmm… what am I reading?

Moms of teens–do you have about five parenting books sitting around trying to decipher the chatter coming from your teens mouth? It can be frustrating to get “Whatever!” from your teen when you ask a question and need an honest reply.

Maybe you’re the mom who gets a shoulder shrug, or a “Yep”. Yep, I’ve gotten them, too! I’ve even had doubles, like “Fine, whatever!” Frustration is my nice word for how I truly feel.

Deciphering exactly what my son is trying to tell me when all I understand is, “Mom, leave me be,” is confusing. Sure, I was a teen once, we all were, but teens have evolved and their language has definitely changed. I was against picking up another “help me” book because they just don’t seem to help, they’re not interesting, and many times read like a repeat of the last purchase.

So, when I was approached by Barbara Greenberg to chat about having her on my web show, I’ll admit, I got a bit of a crush because she was able to do something I couldn’t do… talk to teens. And, not just talk to teens, but understand what their words meant! Bingo! There was no way that I was passing up having her come to chat live.


Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual (TSL) is exactly the kind of book I didn’t want to purchase again, a self-help parenting book, but what makes this particular book stand out from the rest – sure it works – but it works on a level of teen. Barbara, and her co-author Jennifer Powell-Lander, don’t talk over your head, but instead bring you into the conversation.

This was the one great thing about reading TSL, I was not talked at, or to, about my fears of not understanding my teen. My fears of raising a withdrawn teen, and his fears of a Mom with no clue, were greeted on the same level of communication for once where we could finally understand each other. Of course, we still have issues; nothing is fixed overnight. But we weren’t exactly broken, just a bit bruised.

The two best parts of reading TSL, the Get Them Talking and Teen Speak sections. These are not chapters within the book, but strategically placed bits of information throughout the reading. The Get Them Talking bits offer you talking points on how you can approach certain life topics with your teen. These are great if you’re uncertain how to begin, but once you begin the dialogue is all yours.

My favorite bits, Teen Speak, are exactly what this Mom needed. These are the language deciphers, when we really get to understand what “Whatever!” means. They’re interesting to read because each word or phrase is broken down into what parents hear, what teens mean, and a response to help break the code.

Thankfully this book is a great guide and not a must-do. As Moms, we know, we just don’t want to be alone on the bumpy teen highway, so it is great to have some support that can reinforce our knowledge and make suggestions where we might not have a clue. By the time your finished TSL, you’ll be a pro at teen speak and can check this off your must-learn list of languages.

Interested in learning more? Author of Teenage as a Second Language Barbara Greenberg will be joining CreateChatter TV for a live video chat Monday, September 5, 2011 at 8pm. You can also sign up for a giveaway happening right now! One lucky parent will walk away with their own copy of TSL.

Dannie McClain is a mom of two from Bella Vista. She is the Co-Founder of CreateChatter TV, a twice-weekly web show offering viewers an opportunity to discuss through a live video chat new and interesting brands directly with the creators.