October 1995 // Volume 33 // Number 5 // Ideas at Work // 5IAW2

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Parent/Teen Relations

Developing good parent/teen relations is important. "Mom and Pop Night" is a special program for working through issues parents and teens commonly must face. Participants learn the importance of communications in values clarification and decision-making for enhanced relationship development. Parents and teens many time struggle with issues, and solutions can be found through communicating with an open mind.

Scott Kleon
Extension Agent and Assistant Professor
4-H Youth Development
Ohio State University Extension
Pickaway County, Ohio
Internet address: kleon.1@osu.edu

Developing family strengths continues to be an important issue for Extension. One of the most stressful times for parent/child relations happens during the children's teen years (Nelson & Lott, 1994). Finding ways to deal with issues is a challenge for most parents and teenagers.

Pickaway County, Ohio has used a popular method to enhance parent/teen communication through a program entitled "Mom and Pop Night." On special program nights, 4-H teen leaders are encouraged to bring their parents, or any parents, with them to our evening meeting. The program conducted is used to stimulate parent-teen communication concerning current issues and values facing today's families.

Following a short introduction and orientation, parents and teens are divided into groups of six to eight people. Parents are grouped with parents and teens with teens. It has worked best if each parent group has a corresponding teen group. Each group selects a discussion leader and a recorder-reporter, and is then given a problem to solve. One problem is given to one of the parent groups with the same problem given to one of the teen groups. Each group is given 10-15 minutes to come up with a group response to the problem.

An example of one possible problem is as follows:

     Diane is a single parent planning to go on a weekend ski
     trip with a friend.  Her children, age 14 and 16, have asked
     to stay home alone for this weekend.  Diane feels that she
     has "good kids" but does not want to take the chance of
     something happening.  The children's father lives four
     states away and cannot be with them.  What should Diane do?

After discussing the problem and developing a response, each group is asked to read their problem and give their response to the entire audience. Time is then allowed for discussion by the entire group.

During the "wrap-up," a summary is given of the key points that were brought out in discussion. Many times, we have found that teens and parents express similar values. We then emphasize the need for parents and teens to communicate with each other.

Quantitative analysis using self-rating, Lickert-type scales, has shown that participants gained knowledge and the information would be useful to them. In addition, the question was asked "What was the most important thing that you learned in this session?" Popular responses have been as follows:

  • We must keep communication lines open and communicate more often.

  • Feelings, understanding, and respect of others are important.

  • Parents and teens have basically the same values and will come to an agreement if communication is open and you leave room to compromise.

Teens and parents sometimes disagree on issues. Solutions can be found if teens and parents listen, communicate openly, and are willing to give a little. For a fun way to provide an educational program that can enhance parent/teen relations, try a "Mom and Pop Night."


Nelson, J., & Lott, L. (1994). Positive discipline for teenagers: Resolving conflict with your teenage son or daughter. Rocklin, CA: Prima.