“If you could write one chapter in a parenting book that every parent would have to read before they have a teenager, what would you want that one chapter to be about? What would you say?”
I have been both inspired and shocked by their answers. Interestingly, I also found that their advice typically fell into three main principles. I wanted to share them with you below:
1. “Parents think they know how to listen to us, but they don’t know how to listen well.”
Many teens told us that they wished their parents would truly listen to them. Teens wish their parents would truly listen by:
-Not thinking this time will be the same as last time, it is always different, even if only by a little.
-Not assuming that they already know the answer.
-Having an open mind.
-Not comparing what their teens are saying to other teenagers or siblings.
2. “Not all of us are lazy, like pot and feel angry at the world. We are different!”
Many teenagers feel that parents and adults in general over-generalize about their generation. They want media, parenting experts and parents to stop placing expectations on young people. Of course this is incredibly hard to do and I often explain to teenagers although it is not acceptable to over-generalize, it is extremely hard not to by into angsty teen stereotypes. The two ways to fight this are to talk to adults about the overgeneralization and act mature and different.
3. “Really, put yourself in our shoes. Did you sneak out? Did you dabble in some, but not extreme risky behaviors? Did you turn out, ok? Yes! Let us experience life for ourselves while staying close by.”
The teenagers I have spoken with are very mature. Many of them do not want complete unsupervised freedom, they know that is not appropriate, but they do want to have space to try…anything. They often beg me to beg parents to think about what it would be like if they were a teenager today with a cell phone, a Facebook and a crush. How would they feel? What would have been a reasonable amount of freedom and responsibility?
If you could have a parenting book that every parent had to read, what would you want to say?