Teenager Talks–Will Parents Listen?

January 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Communication, Family, Teenagers/Tweens

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The Shine

User post: Parenting — Things every parent needs to hear from a teen’s point of view by Anna, on Fri Dec 31, 2010 7:58pm PST

Hello, my name is Anna, and I’m a teen. Every week I see posts on here about parenting, and how to “deal” with teens. The problem is that these posts are all written by adults. I’m not saying that they don’t know what they’re talking about — most of the time they do — but I thought it would be nice and beneficial to parents to hear the flat-out truth from a teenager.

Number 1: Don’t assume. I’m a teen, yes, but that does NOT mean that I’m doing drugs, drinking alcohol, and/or having sex like crazy! I’m not doing any of those. Not every teen is like me, I know that for sure, but there are plenty that are like me, and that have no interest in any of those things I mentioned above! If you think that there is a problem, or that we’re endangering ourselves, just ask! Not every teen is going to tell you the truth, but they will be more likely to talk to you about things if they know that you trust them. Also, when you assume that we’re doing drugs, drinking, or having sex when we really aren’t, it makes us feel like you see us the same way that you see that druggie who’s 30 and still lives with his/her parents down the street, or the prostitutes we see on streets or on TV. We really don’t like feeling degraded like that. Also, please don’t snoop through our stuff. Again, it feels like you don’t trust us.

Number 2: Don’t over-shelter. My parents have always tried to hide everything “bad” from me. I am an only child, and I think we are more prone to this over-protectiveness. You can’t hide everything, and when we find out, we feel mad or upset — like you’ve kept your hands covering our eyes our entire life. A few years ago I discovered Marilyn Manson through a friend. I was shocked when I realized I was one of the only kids I knew who hadn’t heard of him. I think that through his music, I have finally seen everything that my parents never wanted me to know. If I had gone into high school without knowing all the things I learned through listening to Marilyn Manson and talking to this friend of mine, I don’t even want to know what would have happened. Essentially, I think I would have pretty much been a little puny kid who got teased because I was only book-smart and nothing else. You might think you’re helping us, but in the long run, it could hurt us more than you think. I’m not saying you should have your kids listening to Marilyn Manson, or telling them curse words when they’re 5. Just don’t wait until they find out on their own.

Number 3: Don’t ask us why. And why shouldn’t you ask us why we did something? Because half the time we don’t really know. I honestly don’t know why we don’t know. Hormones, maybe? I don’t know. It’s just hard to explain something to someone when you can’t even begin to explain it to yourself. Oh- and PLEASE don’t ask “What were you thinking?!”. Again, over half the time, we don’t know.

Number 4: Please, don’t force us. I feel bad for kids whose parents make them do certain things from the time they are born. This is the case for one of my best friends. She and her two siblings have been playing piano since they were extremely young. Now each of them plays over 3 different instruments. There’s nothing wrong with teaching your child how to do different things, but when they’re old enough (10+ or so) it should be up to them. My friend plays 4 instruments, and she doesn’t really enjoy them. She’s amazing at them, yes, but to her, it’s a chore to play. Please don’t do this to your kids. If you want them to be happy, let them make their own decisions.

Number 5: Don’t ask “general” questions. General questions are like “How was your day?”. You ask a general question, you’ll get a general answer (e.g. “Fine”) and we’ll feel like general kids. That’s not fun for you or for us. Instead, spice it up, and be specific. “How did you do presenting your project to the class?” I understand it can be hard to be involved- but try just a little harder. It could make a huge difference.

Number 6: Don’t feel bad if we aren’t opening up to you. Sometimes, we just don’t want to talk. If you can follow the 5 things listed above, you can trust that we’ll talk to you when we’re ready to. Be patient with us. We’ll talk when we’re ready to, and when we do, be ready to listen.

Dr. Vicki’s comments:

Thank you Anna for allowing adults to see the world through your eyes.  Sometimes parents are so busy talking that they don’t stop to listen.  I would like this site to be a forum for allowing kids to talk, and helping parents learn how to listen so their kids will really open up and talk to them.

Any other comments you may have to add can be posted below.


3 Responses to “Teenager Talks–Will Parents Listen?”
  1. Nancy Davis says:

    Terrific tips for us parents! The four most important words in Anna’s post are quite possibly “be ready to listen.” My surefire way to get my 13 year old son to start talking (and never stop) is to postpone my morning workout and take him to school. He loves the break from the bus and the requisite swing by Starbucks for an overpriced coffee drink. I don’t say a thing (not easy for a born talker). Within minutes of turning on the ignition, and tuning into NPR (I can’t act like I expect to have a conversation with him or anything–that would ruin the spell!), he invariably switches the volume all the way down and launches into a hilarious litany of eighth grade life. He is still talking when we pull up to the carpool line, and sometimes asks me to park for a few minutes so he can finish his story. This works much better than trying to engage him after school, when all he needs is food, a little rest and the great outdoors.

  2. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I have always loved car time with my son. In fact, even now when I visit him, we take a drive from Nashville to Atlanta to visit family and I still relish the 3 hours that I have him all to myself! Enjoy your kids!


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  1. pligg.com says:

    Teenager Talks–Will Parents Listen? : Better Parenting Institute…

    Hello, my name is Anna, and I’m a teen. Every week I see posts on here about parenting, and how to “deal” with teens. The problem is that these posts are all written by adults. I’m not saying that they don’t know what they’re talking about — mos…