From Teens to Parents: A Cry for Cooperation
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From Teens to Parents: A Cry for Cooperation
Although the focus of this article is to offer parenting suggestions from teens, the content might be contrary to what many of you adults may think. We are not going to give you the "go away, leave us alone" speech because just as we don't want to hear that, neither do you. Instead, we are giving suggestions and information to better our relationships with you. So from child to parent we ask you to consider the following information.
The Trust Fall: When To Trust Your Teen and When To Worry
It's an hour past curfew and I enter the kitchen, tip-toeing and trembling as you slam the door behind me and shriek about abusing privilege and neglecting responsibility. "I can't wait up worrying all night!" you holler, and "That was selfish and irresponsible," and, then those final booming words I've been dreading, "I thought I could trust you. I'm really disappointed."
I sit there listening, picking at my purple nail polish and stewing in self-pity thinking angrily, "You can trust me, because I really was at Nikki's house, and she really did forget to set her clock back for daylight savings, and I really am sorry." I retreat to my bedroom defeated, having watched your trust in me crumble over such an innocent, albeit careless fumble on my part.
Trust between parents and their teens is a delicate and precious bond that once broken is not easily restored. Parents, we teens have a message for you. We are not out to make your lives into an endless cycle of sleepless nights and anxiety attacks. Although you are obligated to keep track of us, sometimes you tend to worry unnecessarily, which only increases tension and gnaws on both of our nerves.
Most teens are thoughtful people who only wish that their parents treated them as such and didn't retract their valuable trust with every dropping pin. There are times to bite your lip and let us go to the party. And other times where anxiety and interrogation are both appropriate and necessary.
I know it's confussing. And it's hard to step back. Maybe the tips below will prove to be helpful in regaining the trust in me and my actions.
When To Trust Me
- When I’m with trustworthy friends.
- When I’ve proven that I do what I say.
- When I follow through with my responsibilities.
- When I’ve said no to peer pressure in the past.
- When I express my own beliefs in respectable values.
- Until I give you a reason not to!
When To Worry
- When I’m caught in a lie.
- When I’m found somewhere I didn’t say I’d be.
- When I consistently bring friends home when you are not home or unaware.
- When many of my friends have bad habits (such as smoking).
- When I come home drunk or high.
- When my behavior or emotions change drastically.
- When my grades drop significantly.
Top 10 Dos and Don'ts
- Agree to listen.
- Try to respect and understand us.
- Recognize that the world has changed.
- Give us consistent boundaries.
- Try to be clear about when you are acting as parent or friend.
- Give us the benefit of the doubt.
- Let us experience the consequences we create.
- Let us cool off before we talk things through.
- Try to be patient and model calmness.
- Model responsibility by taking responsibility
Please Do not:
- Worry all the time.
- Assume the worst.
- Look past right to see wrong.
- Be judgmental.
- Compare us with our peers.
- Withdraw your permission once it’s been given.
- Allow us to do things with “bad” consequences.
- Underestimate the significance of our problems to us.
- Host parties where alcohol is served.
Discipline: "You Can't Make Me!"
Even though we might protest, we need you to be our parents, discipline us and be the adult. Although this may shock you, we know that we don't always make the best choices. Instead of automatically grounding us, we'd love it if you tried to make us think about what we did in some creative ways. The following are some requests and suggestions:
- Pick your battles.
- Don’t act before you listen.
- Try not to make decisions in the heat of the moment.
- Try not to yell.
- Don’t blow up in front of our friends.
- Make sure we know why we’re being disciplined.
- Work with us to come up with an appropriate consequence.
- Make the punishment fit the crime, e.g. an earlier curfew for a curfew violation.
- Punish for the specific incident and not a laundry list of what we’ve done in the
- If you’re mad or hurt tell me now, not at the next fight.
- Let my room be my own domain – just close the door.
- We respect you more when you admit your imperfections so be willing to reverse a decision if appropriate.
Come Here – Go Away
There are some times when we want to hang out with you and times we don't. When we go to museums or out to dinner or even sometimes shopping - it's cool. But we don't want to spend time with you when we are with friends or at school. We wouldn't mind going to church or grocery shopping or even some concerts and movies. It's not that we mind hanging out with you, because we don't. It's just that our friends look at us weird. So please don't try to act like the modern day hip person because it's scary.
A Final Word
In conclusion, we want you to realize that we're growing up. As hard as it is to let go, there will be times when you'll need to. Some lessons are only learned through experience. As it was said, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." So know this: If you let go, we won't desert you because we will have no reason to run. We will always love you and always need you.
Written cooperatively by the following members of the SAY Summer Leadership Institute: Jasmine Beulah; Ashley Eddie; Jacque Gary; Rory Givens; Ava Haynes; Melissa Jurriga; Steven Kyman; Sarah Parkinson; Jennifer Polk; Sam Rutchick; Carrie Smith; Stephanie Stern; Kat Steigerwald; Jennifer Warren.
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