If you're one of those parents who are always wondering just what on earth their teen is talking about then you're not alone. Teen trends and culture dictate teen behavior to a large extent. And while no one expects parents to be "in with the homies" as such, having a basic idea about the youth culture in America will help you understand your teen a great deal. It's possible something that seems like the end of the world to you is something harmless in actuality.
To understand their teens, parents need to connect with them at a certain level. They should gain knowledge of the youth culture of today. Parents should know their teens’ favorite magazines, like Seventeen, Rolling Stones, YM and the music they listen to.
Understand Teens! Never judge...
If parents want their teens to open up and share their world with them, then parents need to develop the habit of listening to their kids, without being judgmental. Be keen to hear your kid’s daily experiences. Be attentive to what you listen to and respond with equal interest and concern. Ask open-ended questions from your teen. This way, your child would divulge more about their day at school and you will get to know him/her better. You may ask them about the subjects they like, the friends they have made at schools, the instructors they like etc. Understand that their interests are rooted in the things that they're exposed to. So you might belch when you hear "Yolo" or "SWAG" but the fact is that these things are the new Carpe Diem and it's something we need to learn to accept as part of our teens' lives.
Know their clothing style
It is commonly believed that a person's clothes tell a lot about his/her personality. This applies to most teenagers. Parents can understand their teens better by learning about the latest teen fashion. Show keen interest in their clothing style and tag along with them the next time they go out for shopping. There is a chance you won't understand just why they wear their pants too low, or why their shirts are chopped off in the middle, but there's a reason for the way they dress. If you can understand their need to fit in then you can counsel them on how to do it without compromising on themselves.
Know the music they listen to
Music is the best way to connect with anyone. Parents should make use of this tool to know their teens better. Through music parents can understand the thoughts and mental state of their child. However, be warned that your teen is most likely not planning to go on a rage binge just because they listen to heavy metal. Fathers are known to lament Justin Beiber and One Direction on a very frequent basis, but realise that your daughters are just going through a phase and will hopefully out grow their musical passions (just like your wives/significant others got over the Backstreet Boys once they grew up).
Know your teens’ role models
Teenagers are very impressionable and they often try to emulate the mannerisms and attitudes of people they idealize. This may be a friend, a celebrity, a relative or even a parent who inspires them in some way. Parents should be able to tap into that world of their teen. Get to know what they like about that role model. Then evaluate whether it is good or bad for your teen’s personality development. For instance, pining over Chris Brown is most likely not a good thing for your young daughters, or your sons. It's important to know who a teen's role model is so you can intervene if it's someone teaching them the wrong values. In the case of Mr. Brown it's domestic violence that you need to fight again.
At the end of the day theres' a lot of good and bad within teen culture. If you don't know the good you won't know what to promote, if you don't know the bad you won't know what to protect them against!