What do adults know that teenagers don't

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Why do young people want to speak “differently” than adults?

Often new terms are used with sometimes unusual meanings; well-known word creations are also replaced by others. In addition, different “languages” are spoken even within different groups of young people.

Norms and values, the understanding of the world - as it is or should be - are expressed in language. This means that everyday language is generally shaped by the world of adults. A world that young people understand as a counter-world to theirs.

The desire to distance oneself from the adult world (detachment from the family) is also expressed in the so-called youth language. This is a normal need that is part of the development process of young people and their identity. It reflects the attitude of young people, their attitude to life, and above all the desire to create something new, their own, completely typical for young people.

Therefore, you should always understand when your child speaks a "different language" than you. But that doesn't mean that you have to let him tell you everything.

If your child's language takes on forms that you find indecent, hurtful, or offensive, tell them so. Ask them to speak to you in this way. Make it clear to him why he shouldn't talk to others like that.

Adult language, youth language - what's the difference?

The language of adolescents differs from the everyday language of adults, for example, in that

  • it is simpler - in adult language, somewhat awkward descriptions are more common, while adolescents almost always use very apt, colorful, even if sometimes unusual or unfamiliar terms;
  • it follows far fewer rules - this removes barriers to speech, it is possible to speak spontaneously, because it is not so important that one speaks “correctly”;
  • it conveys a lot more feelings and moods - because more appropriate, colorful expressions are available and used.

The colorful, unusual terms used in youth language are not always acceptable to adults. Your child has to learn to recognize and accept this.

This works best if you, as parents, stick to your language and do not try to adapt to your child's linguistic habits.

Should parents speak the youth language?

Young people want to set themselves apart from adults. This happens not only through clothing, but also through language. That is why young people use their own terms that are often not understood by adults.
If you try - possibly to be “in” - to adapt to your child's language, you are just making a fool of yourself. Because you will probably only look fake. This does not give you access to your child's world. You will also no longer be accepted by him like this.

You are and will remain the adult that your child wants to be different from! Because it wants to stay among itself with its own kind. The attempt to approach the child verbally is more likely to be perceived as an intrusion into the intimate sphere.
Stick to the way you express yourself. Leave it at that to be happy about the sometimes very imaginative word creations of the young people.

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Further information

Parents letters

This topic can be found in the letters from parents ...