4 Myths and 1 Truth About Teens

03/30/2015 04:33 pm ET | Updated May 29, 2015
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As parents, we think we know teens. After all, we all were one, some of us longer ago than others. As a school counselor in a junior high for almost a decade, I have talked to thousands of tweens and teens. And somewhere along the way, we parents have lost sight of the truth of being a teen.

Here are four myths and one truth about understanding teens:

1. They want you to leave them alone.
Yes, they are going to want a lot of time to be alone, listen to music, text and do other friend-related activities. Oh, and sleep. So much sleep! But the majority of the teens I talk to crave time with their parents. They tell me how upset they are about something, and when I ask if they've talked to a parent, they often tell me the parent was not around. (Many tell me that after dinner, everyone in the house retreats to his or her own room to do their own thing.) The truth is that teens feel very lonely at home.

2. They don't want rules.
They might argue and rebel, but deep inside, having rules and expectations makes them feel loved and can give them a great excuse when they feel pressure from peers to do things they don't feel comfortable with. The truth is that boundaries make them feel safe. Let them know that you care enough to set some.

3. They don't care what you think of them.
The truth is, they care. A lot. Kids want to feel that their parents are proud of them. The number one thing they crave is for you to not just love them, but like them too. The truth is when they feel liked and respected, they will bend over backwards to please you.

4. All they care about is themselves.
I see a lot of kids first thing in the morning who are often very upset because they had an argument with you before leaving for school. The truth is that they want to please you. They often feel like they fall short of this, and it bothers them a lot. When you are angry with them, they want so badly to make it right. But often, they just don't know how.

And... here's one truth: Truth: They think parents are clueless and not funny.
They do think your jokes are lame. And that you are hopelessly out of touch with the way the world is now and what it's like to be a teen today. But the truth is the best way to bond with them is to laugh together. When you proudly tell lame jokes, and when you laugh at their lame jokes, it will help you bond with each other. When you laugh with them, they feel accepted by you. This means the world to them.

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