WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Does your teenager text more than he or she talks? If so, you've probably found it more difficult to have a conversation with your child. And you're not alone. One mom, frustrated with the lack of communication with her children, invented a low-tech but highly effective solution that is getting everyone talking.
It's called "The Talking Jar." The colorful jar contains a deck of cards containing questions dedicated to one topic such as teens, anger, bullying, cancer or marriage.
Whether you're gathered at the kitchen table or on a road trip, one question is pulled from the jar and is answered by everyone.
Jupiter mom Jeanne Dexter came up with the idea in 1997 when she was going through a divorce and was having a hard time getting her children to talk about it.
Dexter says, "I kept thinking I have to find a way to open up to communicate. Every time I asked them a question they would shut down. They didn't want to talk."
She took her idea to Paul Schweinler, a Broward County mental health counselor who is board certified in traumatic stress. He loved the concept, and a business partnership was born.
Schweinler says it's a simple concept, that works. "Part of the idea is you can't really answer them (the questions) with one word, easily, you've gotta tell a story."
As those stories are being told, Schweinler says, it allows teenagers to open up in ways they might not otherwise.
"Getting people to express what they're feeling" says Schweinler, "what they're afraid of and what they're frustrated by. "
Jeanne Dexter says, "It worked with my kids because they liked that they could draw out a question that I wasn't asking and they could answer. It gave them a voice."
The Gonzalez family of Jupiter tried a Talking Jar called "The Teen Jar" and liked it. Thirteen-year-old Sophia says, "It will probably change us because we'll learn more about each other and how we feel sometimes."
Her older sister, Celeste, thought it would be a good to use "The Teen Jar" once a week if not more.
At a time when texting has replaced talking for most teenagers, their dad Faustino Gonzalez, said, "this would get them out of their technology and have a good time."
It's a simple idea that can open the lines of communication.
Right now there are currently 12 jars in "The Talking Jar" series. The topics range from anger, to bullying, to cancer and to marriage.
For more information on the entire "Talking Jar" series go to www.talkingjars.com or call 772-202-8255.