Are you parenting a teenager? Would it help to know what he (or she) is thinking?
Recently I sat down with a 17 year old young woman, Amy (not her real name), and asked her this question.
(Colleen) “Amy, what frustrations do teenagers have with their parents? What do teenagers wish they could tell their parents, but often don’t?”
(Amy) “Well, let me think a minute. Okay, here’s a thought. Parents are all the time complaining we (teenagers) don’t do as we’re told. I’m talking about things like chores and such. But parents need to remember that most teenagers have really full schedules.
“Honestly, we often just forget to do what we’re asked and then we get in trouble and the whole situation escalates.
“What I have found works for me is for my mom to give me a list of what she wants done and also when she wants it done. Then I’m able to fit the jobs into all my other activities and if I forget, it really is my fault. I keep up much better with my chores this way, plus I like managing my own schedule.”
(Colleen) “That’s good information, Amy. Any other thoughts?”
(Amy) “Yes. Another thing parents might consider is if they have a particular rule and they say there’s an exception to that rule, define the exception up front. Don’t make us figure it out by trial and error and then getting in trouble. We can’t read your mind.”
(Colleen) “Parents get frustrated by that one, too. Anything else?”
(Amy) “I also think that pushing all the time about joining family activities just makes teenagers tune out. For me, I enjoy spending time with my family, but not every minute of every day. I want to spend time with my friends, too.
“If I know when it’s important to be at family stuff, then I make sure I’m there and I can plan with my friends, too. More of a balanced plan.”
(Colleen) “Thank you, Amy, for sharing with us. Your comments are very insightful.” (End of interview.)
Good food for thought, isn’t it? (If you would enjoy more tips on parenting teens, please see the author’s resource box below.) Do Amy’s frustrations sound familiar? You might want to sit down with your own teen and ask these same questions of them. But be prepared to listen and not lecture, if you want the real answers!
Parenting a teenager can be hard work. Good parenting means listening and guiding. Giving a measure of freedom within clear boundaries and often walking a fine line of balance.
And lots of hugs are a good idea, too!
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