How to Connect with Teens (006)


Today I'm talking with Maureen Mazzarese, an expert in social and emotional development. A therapist and counselor with four decades of experience, Maureen has worked with kids and parents of all ages, but this conversation focuses on adolescence--and the particular challenges it can present. We discuss "givens" of adolescent development, those normal tendencies that adults often forget. Then we talk about some basics of how to connect with teens (and a couple things to avoid). Parents, educators, employers, and friends of teens, this one's for you!

For this episode's James Taylor-inspired soundtrack, special thanks to guitarists Justin Rosin and Jason Grant, and pianist Gil Scott Chapman. Opening and closing music by Shayfer James, whose songs should be heard and purchased here

Above, a favorite shot of Maureen and me at the Princeton-Blairstown Center in New Jersey, the site of our annual retreat for high school students in Project '79 (photo by Ellen Muir). Below, what we look like facing the camera (photo by Gretchen M. Brand). 



Act 1. Kids Today! What has changed—and what hasn’t—about adolescence. (04:02)

Act 2. A few "givens" of adolescent development. The Personal Fable, The Invisible Audience, Not/Not-Now, and much more. (10:38)

Act 3. Some basics of connecting with kids. (21:18)

Act 4. Advanced Guidance: suicide, referral networks, and owning vulnerability. (32:39)



One of Maureen's superpowers is listening. Here are some pointers that have stood me in good stead:

Two powerful tips I learned from Maureen about how and when to have difficult conversations. 

Where people sit (or stand) during conversations significantly influences the meeting's outcome. 


Maureen is a huge James Taylor fan, so I asked some friends connected to Westfield High School if they'd be willing to work up some stylized takes on JT hits for the soundtrack. Justin Rosin ("Fire and Rain") and Gil Scott Chapman ("Shed a Little Light") were once Westfield High School students.

Justin Rosin

Justin Rosin

Gil Scott Chapman

Gil Scott Chapman

Jason Grant recently retired from Westfield High School, where he taught social studies for nearly 20 years. He put his stamp on "Carolina in My Mind," "You've Got a Friend," and "Shower the People."

Jason Grant

Jason Grant

Peter Horn