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Help, I don’t understand my child anymore! – When parents and children speak different languages

3 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Social Media
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What words did you use when you were younger and what did your parents think? Think about it. Because it is perfectly normal that sometimes you do not understand your child because he uses words that you do not know or understand.

Distinction from the adult world

Our language is shaped by the adult world. Adolescents have a strong need to form their own identity, to become independent and to distinguish themselves from adults. This is also expressed in the so-called youth language with which they create their own world. With their own language, or at least their own terms, they create something of their own and typical of youth. This connects and creates self-confidence. Using the “outdated” slang of the parents would sound old-fashioned and uncool.

Youth slang is shaped by the language on the net

In each new generation, in certain youth scenes and even in different places, youth language changes and there are different words and expressions. Typically, young people speak more easily than adults. In doing so, they sometimes use unusual or unfamiliar terms. The language is less “correct” because young people speak more spontaneously. Instead, it transports much more feelings and moods.

Online communication also has a strong influence on how young people speak or write. In messenger chat, for example Emojis used, the language is significantly shortened and is often incorrect. Terms from the gamer and rapper scene, from female influencers, and above all from the English that dominates the net are adopted. Many terms are reflected in hashtags, such as #staywoke for visibility of social inequality. The language young people use depends on where they are on the Internet and what the current trend is. In this way, they show which youth culture they feel they belong to and which media role models they emulate.

Do you know these terms?

Check out your knowledge around your child’s language. The following words are particularly popular in 2022. At the end of the post you will find the resolution.

  • woke
  • sheesh
  • purge-watching
  • nh
  • cringe
  • Man of honor/woman of honor
  • flexing
  • POV

Dealing with the language of young people

So there is no serious reason to worry if you sometimes do not understand your child. Respect the desire for boundaries and generally be understanding if your child uses different words than you do. But that doesn’t mean you have to let him tell you everything. Especially if the language is indecent, hurtful or offensive. Tell your child. Make it clear to him why he should not speak like this to others either and, if necessary, agree on rules for dealing with each other.

You are and will always be the adult your child wants to be different from. Therefore, do not try to approach linguistically. This is more likely to be perceived by your child as an invasion of his or her privacy. Speak the way you always do. Nevertheless, you can occasionally enjoy your child’s imaginative word creations and ask if you don’t understand something!


  • WOKE (from wokeness; wake) refers to people with an awareness of sensitive issues such as racism, social inequality or discrimination.
  • SHEESH is used similarly to “boah” as a positive expression of enthusiasm and is a variation of “Geez” (English slang = Jesus) from the hip-hop scene
  • PURGE-WATCHING (from purge and to watch) means to compulsively watch series to the end, even though it is no fun anymore
  • NH is used as reinforcement of a statement, similar to “isn’t it?”
  • CRINGE (from the English cringe = to flinch) refers to something one is embarrassed or ashamed of; as
  • HONORARY is the name given to a person who can be relied upon or who does something special for you.
  • FLEXING means showing off and goes back to showing off muscles
  • POV is the abbreviation for point of view and is used, for example, in the gaming scene and on Instagram.

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