Bridging the gap

Commentary by ACS Executive Director, Dr.Philippe Rey:

Intergenerational incomprehension — perhaps akin to the “”generation gap”” of earlier decades — makes figuring out what teens are talking about, listening to, wearing and why like reading a foreign language.

What can parents do to bridge today”s gap? Here are some guidelines we have found helpful in our dealing with families in crisis:

o Remember that you are not your child”s best friend, but a parent.

o Spend time together with televisions, computers and mobile devices turned off.

o Have dinner together as often as possible.

o Take short and long drives with your kids and listen to what they are talking about!

o Watch their television shows, listen to their songs and read their magazines. Suspend judgmentalism and put-downs, just explore.

o Celebrate or praise all passing grades and achievements as small as they may be — but avoid gushy or hollow praise.

o Ask yourself: Is it your need or your child”s need to be successful at everything they attempt?

o Accept that you are not a failure as a parent if your child does not attend an Ivy League school.

o Recognize when you are wrong and apologize.

o Love them no matter what.

o Don”t be afraid to ask for help.

ACS is just one of the many tools available to anyone and everyone. We can call upon technology as well as on well-trained staff and the knowledge of local experts to deal with the issues and stay ahead of trends. Together, we can build on a dialogue that has helped our teens for 34 years.

Philippe Rey, Psy.D., is executive director of Adolescent Counseling Services. 4000 Middlefield Road, Suite FH, Palo Alto, CA 94303. He can be contacted at 650-424-0852 and e-mailed at
This is an exerpt from an article originally published in the Palo Alto Weekly on January 2, 2009.


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