5 Things Every Teen Wants Their Parent to Know

top teen advice, top teen complaints, top parent teen issues, Whenever I interview teens for our writing internships I ask them one important question: “If you could give one piece of advice to every parent, what would you tell them?” Interestingly, their tips tend to be quite similar—highlighting the fact that most teens and parents do in fact struggle with the same issues. Here are the top 5 tips we here from teens that they wish their parents knew:


1. Do not pretend you know everything about us


“My mom thinks I haven’t changed since I was 11. Just because I liked a certain TV show then, doesn’t mean I haven’t changed. I wish she asked me about myself more instead of assuming she knows what I am like.”—Carey, 13


As adults I think we forget how rapidly teens change their interests, friends and identity. After all, for most of us our favorite color, best friend and hair color hasn’t changed in a few years. Teens are all about experimentation and as they grow their interests change—even week to week. A common complaint I hear from teens is that they wish their parents took an interest—a continued interest in their lives beyond just their grades and that they would recognize that their interests are changing.


2. We do listen, even if we pretend we don’t


“I sometimes role my eyes at my mom and pretend I am not listening. But I do hear what she says and think about it later.”  –Jeremiah, 15


It is very uncool for teens to listen to their parents. And sometimes they feel they have to pretend they are not listening. But over and over again I hear teens encourage their parents (or other parents) that their teens do listen.


3. If you treat us like kids, we will act like kids


“If my dad let me have some freedom I could prove to him that I won’t do anything stupid. But he won’t even give me the chance.” –Leslie, 14


Many teens tell us that if their parents were to put some faith in them they feel they would rise to the occasion. However, when their parents treat them like they are going to break the rules, they often do.


4. Their friends matter…a lot


“My friends are more important to me than my parents.” –Mariah, 12


This is a hard one to swallow, but when kids hit age 11 they begin to spend more time with their friends than with parents, and this can greatly increase the amount of influence their peers have. Many teens lament that parents don’t understand how important their friends are to them—their tastes, their needs and their judgments. It is important for parents to realize how important friends are to not only keep negative pressure in check, but also to show their kids they respect their good friendships.


5. We do come back


“Sometime around 19 I realized my parents weren’t so bad after all.” –Jackie, 23


If you are going through a rocky time with your teen, just know it will not last forever. If you let them know you love them, the values you instilled in them will blossom. Every teen I talk to speaks to the ups and downs in their relationships and their faith that if it is hard right now, one day it will get easier.





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5 Responses to “5 Things Every Teen Wants Their Parent to Know”

  1. Dana
    June 13, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    As a parent of teenagers, I wish more parents would understand the importance of their friends and getting to know them! My daughter has an excellent (not perfect) group of close friends and I feel fortunate that they are part of our family.

  2. Kathy Sena - BadBallet.com
    June 15, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    Thanks so much for this. As the mother of a 15-YO son, I needed to hear the parts about the ups and downs being normal. We have a great relationship, but we have our days! But the love that is there will see us through.

  3. Molly Wingate
    June 15, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    These are the same things I wanted to tell MY parents several decades ago! Teen years move fast for the teen as well as for the parents. I am glad for the reminder to look at the world through the eyes of my teens.

  4. the_kcar
    June 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    My teens are 17 and 18, and they are holding on to “teen” as long as humanly possible. My youngest oftentimes tells me, “most moms just don’t listen to teens…they act like they are the only ones that know their teen best. I get sick of it.”

    I ask him if he’s been able to relate to me, directly. He responds, “mostly, but not always”.

    I tell him, “I may have been 17, but I’ve never been a 17 year old young man in these weird times.”, and I try to open the conversation from there – his perspectives, his thoughts.

    I tell the oldest the same thing, he responds, “Ma – you already know, nothing ever changes. You’re going to tell me things were all that different when you were a kid?”

    Some things are different. Some are the same. Many parents I’ve spoken with have a hard time remembering how they felt, acted, and reacted to the world around them when they were the same age.

    On an unrelated note: I still can’t stand Crocs, but that’s the Shoe of Choice for the oldest. Let him.


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