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Ask a Teen


I Wish That...


Teens Reveal What They Really Wish Parents Did—With a Few Surprising Answers




July 01, 2010
Parents—Do you want to know what your teens secretly wish you did and didn't do but are too afraid to tell you? Here are ten things that I discovered while interviewing my peers.

1. Teens don't like constant pressure to be perfect. "When I do one thing wrong, it's like the world is coming to an end," Matt C. says. Emily R says, "My dad gets upset over the pettiest things." Many teens feel that their parents are constantly criticizing them. Academics are often a huge factor in this. "The constant pressure to get A's in every class is horrible!" Natalie G. says. "I wish that they could just understand that I'm not going to be perfect in everything. There are going to be some classes that are hard for me." Parents should not raise their expectations so high that their teen can't possibly meet them. Expecting a 4.0 GPA, for example, can only damage the relationship between parent and teen.

2. Teens don't like comparison between them and their friends. Natalie also relates, "When they compare me to friends, especially in school, it makes me feel really sad." Parents can avoid hurting their teens by gently encouraging them to do their own, personal best, without bringing up anyone else's achievements.

3. Teens don't like not having enough independence. Many teens want more freedom. "Sometimes I wish they would let me be a little more independent," says Julia T. Parents sometimes fail to notice that their teens don't need their constant intervention in their lives anymore. In high school, teens may have a large circle of friends and may be dating. Parents need to lay down good boundaries for social time and for family time and it can be okay with teens if the two are blended. But if your teen proves herself responsible, too much hovering is a turn-off. Teens often assume that they have a right to independence, but this right should be earned with responsibility.

4. Teens don't like when their parents become too involved in their social lives. "My mom, to a certain extent, is very controlling in my social life," Emily observes. Matt also says of his mom, "I hate when she comes over to my friend's house to make sure everything's okay." While it is important that parents make sure their teen is safe and following the rules with their friends, it is also important that parents are not overly demanding and controlling. If friends are constantly taking a teen away from her family, her parents should set limits on her social time.

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5. Teens don't like to be embarrassed. Some ways teens are embarrassed by their parents are small and seemingly insignificant. "I hate when my mom tries to lick her finger and get something off my face," Matt complains. However, being embarrassed in a 'small way' can also potentially subject the teens to ridicule by their peers and low self esteem. Remember what it felt like when you were a teenager.

6. Teens like their parents' enforcing of the rules. "I secretly like it that my parents discipline me," Damon A. says. Teens do realize that the way their parents keep them in check, even if it seems obnoxious and unnecessary at the time, usually works out for their benefit.

7. Teens like it when their parents, rather than criticizing them, show them affection. "I like it when they give me lots of hugs, and the teeniest compliment can have me brimming with joy, even though I won't show it," Emily admits. It always helps the parent/teen relationship when a parent decides to, instead of constantly criticizing her teen, give him a compliment or a hug.

8. Teens like family time. Ray N. says, "I like it when we all go out to eat, and it's nice to see my parents go out on dates. It's good to have family time." Even if they complain and whine about missing their favorite T.V. show or an outing with a friend, family time is essential for keeping teens connected with the rest of the family.

9. Teens like it when parents try to divide time equally between siblings. Busy teens enjoy getting one on one time with parents. "My younger brothers are often attention hogs and I think its nice when my parents intentionally stop and talk to me," Megan K. says.

10. Teens like it when their parents encourage their dreams. "My parents are big supporters of what I'm interested in," Ellen W. says. "If I'm excited about something, it's awesome that they are too." Parents should make an attempt to invest in their teen's interests. Then the teens may be more inclined to invest their time in such things as piano lessons and athletics.

Katie Kortepeter is a 15-year-old. She lives in Indianapolis and enjoys acting, writing, and tormenting her younger brothers.

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Tags: Parenting, Tweens & Teens

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