Revered ‘Teen Whisperer’ Has the Secret to Getting Your Kids to Open Up

bookWhat if I told you there was a way to get through to your teen -- a woman, actually, whom you could pay to sit down with your kid and get them to open up. A woman so talented, in fact, that there's a four-month waiting list just to arrange an appointment with her, despite her 12-hour a day shifts. A woman so revered that parents fly her all over the country to talk to their children, to reach their children. A woman so successful at what she does, she's called the Teen Whisperer. Is this heaven, you ask? No, it's Iowa. Her name is Ramona Barber and she's from Des Moines.

Ms. Barber has a special talent when it comes to talking to young people. We all know it's especially difficult to get your hormonal eye-rolling teen to talk to you about their feelings, but Ms. Barber has the secret. It's not something she can pinpoint, exactly, but believes that her asthma has something to do with it.

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As a young girl, her asthma was so bad she couldn't play with the other children, so instead she had to sit, listen, talk, and observe. All skills that would eventually prove necessary for decoding a teen.

Parents send their kids to Barber because they believe she can help. She's sort of a special kind of college adviser (one whom other, school-employed college counselors aren't necessarily fans of), and she gets teens to hone in on what they really want to study in college. "Revealing aptitude is her trademark," says USA Today.

Barber charges about $300 a session, and with her stellar reputation, it sounds as if she's worth it. As a teen who entered college thinking about majoring in everything from Art History to Oceanography to Communications to Education to Whatever I'll Just Drink My Face Off for Four Years, I think I would've benefited from a Teen Whisperer focusing in on my (alleged) aptitude for English Lit and creative writing.

It would've saved me hours in the lab looking at algae anyway, that's for sure.

Of course, Barber has naysayers, but hey -- if there’s someone out there who’s mastered the impossible skill of talking to teens, who has good intentions, and who’s for hire? Well, then, I’m sold.

Would you hire the Teen Whisperer?


Photo via igorputina/Flickr



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fleur... fleurdelys3110

This is so degrading to teens. If parents had ever felt the need to do this to me, I would've been furious and would have locked down even further out of principle. It seems as if many people, including some bloggers on this site, have forgotten that teens are people too. Maybe if everyone stopped treating teens as strange creatures and stopped expecting them to do stupid things all the time, then parents wouldn't have such a difficult time getting their teenagers to open up to them.

fleur... fleurdelys3110

Teenagers know when their parents and elders don't respect them as people, and bringing in a "teen whisperer" only serves to reinforce this belief. (Because its true.)

Rhodin Rhodin

Sounds like a reality show pitch.

bubbb... bubbbles454

Different. the only reason I was quiet ,as a teen was everthing I said was silly or wrong. It was a downer so I shut up about me and my dreams  but yeah I'd tell those who cared and were positive. I think parents just need to be as postive and caring as a stranger and if they arn't then someone will know your teen better than you!

nonmember avatar Bernarda

If my parents called this women I would be furious! The Teen Whisperer? What are we, DOGS?! I'm foaming at the mouth just thinking about it. There is no way I would talk to that woman. I am 13 years old by the way a real person who resents this. I can't pinpoint why exactly, it's just so ugh. Like typical adult.

nonmember avatar PuppyLvr

I agree with some of the above posters. If my parents did this, I'd make sure the $300 was a waste of money and become more closed off. This is offensive. The "secret" to getting teens to "open up" is by respecting them and being honest. If you treat a teenager like a normal human being, then teens will treat you that way. If you are disrespectful and don't care enough to work things out yourself, your teen will feel the same way. Don't limit your teen unreasonably, don't snoop through your teen's stuff without a GOOD reason, and don't talk down to teens. I open up willingly to adults who do that. Everyone else - I become equally disrespectful, irritated, stubborn, etc. Adults - imagine being talked to the way you talk to your teen. If you would be offended or find it unreasonable, you're doing it wrong.

nonmember avatar WDM resident

Mrs. Barber needs to get an office to conduct her business. As a resident of West Des Moines, I am tired of the traffic in and out of her private residence.
This is a neighborhood, not an office park.

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