I have been talking to your teens for over two decades. Even though trends and styles may change, teens still have the same concerns and the same secrets that they would like you to know, but just don't feel comfortable telling you. Sharing concerns remains so non-teenage. That's where I come in. In my office and consulting room, teens spill all. So, for the benefit of family harmony, I am going to spill today and let you in on the way that your teens think. Stay with me and see what resonates with you. I will address 10 issues from the voice of teens.
1. When you ask us how our day was, we really can't answer because our day isn't over yet and we are really not sure how we would sum it up. It's not that we are being rude or ornery. It's just that we don't have the final answer yet. Please keep that in mind and don't get mad at us when we respond to your query with "fine."
2. Please stop talking about how teens are egocentric and that our brains are not fully developed yet. While that may be the case, it feels terrible to know that we are somewhat of a mess. We already have enough struggles. We are painfully aware of the fact that we are not fully cooked yet.
3. You can be happy even if we are a little upset. We don't want to be responsible for the mood of our parents. Please allow us to have feelings of our own without absorbing them. We will be fine. We just need some time. It is not our intention to upset you.
4. Show us that growing up is a good thing by enjoying your life. We need to see you doing things that you enjoy outside of being a parent. Please don't focus entirely on being a parent. We are watching you and we want to see that growing older can be joyful.
5. We know that you don't want us to be upset. Nonetheless, we are going to be upset. Sometimes, we even want to wallow in our negative feelings. So, please don't try to fix everything for us. Not only do we not necessarily want things fixed, but we also need to learn to repair situations on our own. How else will we learn to face the world and problems with grit, resiliency and confidence? Sometimes, Mom and Dad, less is more. Thank you though. We know that you have good intentions.
6. Please don't make us feel like a bad grade is the end of the world. We will sometimes get less than stellar grades and it is not helpful for us to feel that it is the end of the world. We need to get used to our teachers and their particular types of tests.
7. We all need alone time. Please don't freak out if we take some time alone to decompress and relax. It does not mean that we are despondent and/or becoming socially isolated. Mom and dad, we have noticed that adults also need alone time.
8. Try very hard not to treat us like your favorite child. This does not help us with our relationships with our siblings. It makes us feel guilty and it makes our brothers and sisters resent us. Try to focus on the different strengths and intricacies of each of our personalities. Variety is good. Favoritism is not.
9. Know that we are confused about sex even though we may act like we've got everything under control. We are still kids. This sex thing is confusing. Please talk to us about intimacy, sex and love. We may resist but we will take it in.
10. Please don't get so emotional when we do tell you about our concerns. This only scares us and makes us feel like the problem is bigger than we initially thought. We know that you worry but please act calm.
Thanks for listening, Mom and Dad. This teenage thing is hard for all of us.