There’s a teenager stereotype that can make most people believe certain things about teens even without knowing them. Of course, most parents know their children well enough to know what their likes and dislikes are, what he or she is afraid of, and what challenges him or her.
However, when teens behave in stereotypical ways, then the idea of a quintessential teen might come in strong for parents, regardless of how well parents know their children. For instance, if a teen is frequently dismissive, responding with one-word answers and avoiding talks with parents, then that teen stereotype only gets nourished. And with this stereotype in the way, parents might miss out on some important information about their teen.
For instance, one parent’s blog includes an article on the things that most parents don’t know about their teens. In order to write the article, she asked her daughter and a handful of other teenagers about what their parents may not know about them. Their answers surprised her. She discovered that the teens she asked were so willing to share their personal story that “these kids want to be heard”. They want to be understood more deeply.
Here’s what she discovered:
- Teens need constant reminders that even though they might fail, they are still worth something. One teen living in the mid-west recently admitted that he felt embarrassed whenever his mother praised him. He would respond with, “Oh, come on,” or “Awww, stop it.” Yet, he also admitted that there were times at school when he felt less than and not accepted among his peer group. It was those moments when he recalled the praise his mother gave him. Although when she was praising him, he didn’t really receive it well, in some way, he took it in enough to remember them at other points in his life. Praising your child can indeed have a significant impact.
- Teens care a lot about what their parents think. Although teens give off the impression that they don’t care, the truth is that they are listening. The truth is they are paying attention. At the same time, it’s important for parents to listen deeply to their teen so that they can respond appropriately. Listen for what your teen is communicating underneath the words. If you really listen, your child will feel heard and understood.
- Teens are thinking about their future. Many teens feel the stress of having to meet demands from school and home. They feel anxious to do well and to succeed. One teen put it this way: I think that a teen’s biggest challenge is different for all ages. For seniors, it is getting ready for college. Juniors it is ACT’s or SAT’s. For sophomores, it’s grades and sports. For ninth grade, it’s finding your place in high school. Most teens are doing the best they can in order to follow in the successful footsteps of their parents. In fact, another teen said that she realizes she is looking at the way her parents live their lives. Talking about her parents, she admitted, “You really are our role models, so how you do life is probably how we will wind up doing life.”
- Teens need acknowledgement that their pain and stress is real. Teens need to be seen for who they are and all that they are doing in life. This includes the growth pains, anxiety, and stress they feel. They don’t want their parent to minimize their experiences or dismiss their adolescent years as being troublesome.
- Sometimes teens need their parents to listen and not talk so much. Even though teens might dismiss their parents by responding with short answers and being painfully not talkative. However, when give the right opportunity, teens want to talk and share and be heard.
Teens want a close relationship with their parents even though their behavior will may indicate otherwise. Although this may contradict the idea of a stereotypical teen, most teenagers want to be heard and understood.