Understanding teens

Being a teen is difficult. One feels misunderstood, scared about the weird hormonal changes and generally life gets to be a little too confusing at times. Here are 10 things that teenagers wished their parents knew about them.

1. I am not a child anymore

Almost more than anything, teens want respect for their status as maturing young adults. Continuing to be treated as a child feels demeaning. Parents recognise, however, that teens come in varying stages of maturity, and it is important to tailor your reactions to your teen’s level.

As they reach early teenhood, try to be aware of their situation and work at treating them a little more at an adult level.

2. I am scared of becoming an adult

Whether or not a teen is ready to be treated like an adult, s/he is typically overwhelmed with that impending responsibility. Recognise that for all the bravado a teenager can muster, there is significant fear of the unknown. Parents who are able to blend a little respect with a little sensitivity for their situation can be a great resource for their teens.

3. Friends are becoming more important to me

Part of the transition process through which teens progress is moving from dependence on parents to independence. It is a process that we support and are excited about as parents — after all, we want our children to become responsible, independent adults at some point. Part of that process involves a gradual separation from parents to others, including friends. This is natural, expected and appropriate. So don’t be too concerned or get hurt when your teens would rather ‘hang out’ with friends than stay home and play games with the family.

4. I question lots of things that I didn’t used to question

A big part of the maturation process is learning to think and feel for one’s self. Teens who were very obedient children may start questioning why they do things that you tell them to do. They may question your judgement. They may question basic beliefs and values that your family has embraced. This questioning process is healthy and normal. Try to stay available to help them through some of that questioning process if the opportunity presents itself.

5. My hormones are doing weird things to me, and I can’t tell you why

We have noticed with our off spring that when they become teens, they become short-tempered and tend to raise their voices a lot, especially when they are under stress. They may start feeling uncomfortable around friends of the opposite sex, even when they have been friends for years. They may want posters on the wall of which you do not approve. But mostly, they just feel — they don’t necessarily understand why. Recognise that hormones may be at the root of some uncomfortable teenage behaviours. However, don’t let them use it as an excuse. Teach them that even though it is hard, hormones can be controlled.

6. I hate ‘the look’

Parents develop over time what teenagers know as ‘the look’. This may be expressed in a stare, glare or grimace that lets them know they are in trouble. Keeping the lines of communication open can minimize the times you use ‘the look’ and can help them identify other ways of knowing that they are causing you stress.

7. Sometimes, I just need to be alone

Teens have a tendency to withdraw a little while they are figuring out their world. They may be pretty chatty with their friends, but may retreat into their own space when at home. This tendency is also natural and for the most part should not be alarming. If it becomes extreme, then you should be concerned.

8. Sometimes, I just want you to listen

Parents often tend to want to be problem-solvers and jump right into a conversation with advice. Resist that temptation and try from time to time to just listen. Many times conversations between parents and teenagers is a chance for a teen to “work it out on their own” with you listening in. Give them that chance to learn to deal with life’s issues rationally and reasonably without you jumping in to solve the issues.

9. I need you to be consistent

While teens often rebel at parental authority, they expect and feel most comfortable wh-en parents stick by rule and behave consistently. Don’t constantly change curfews — have a rule and stick with it. The consistency will help give your teen something to rely on — an anchor in the storm of life.

10. Walk your talk

Teens get frustrated when parents say one thing and do another. Keep your commitments they would rather have no promise than a broken one. If we have a family rule about television or video ga-mes, mom and dad should live by the rule as well. Set a good example and keep your commitments, and your teen will have greater respect for you. — Agencies