THE MANY VARIED VOICES IN YOUR TEENAGERS HEAD
After 8 years of working with teenagers (male and female) I wanted to put together a few thoughts for parents – from the teenagers perspective. Many of these thoughts we may not think about but we do need to. There are many stressors in parenting teenagers today but there are many ways to make this experience a more positive one for the parent and the teenager. There will never be anyone more important than you in your teenagers life (not always visible!) but it is true. Think of your own relationship with your mother/father – was it the way you wanted it to be, were there things you would have liked her/him to do differently – learn from your own upbringing. It is never too late to make changes.
When I work one to one with teens they do tend to be very honest about their feelings, their pressures, their stressors in life. I came across an article from Psychology Today that I am also using as it resonated with me. Together there are some very valid realistic points here, I hope it helps!
Teen – ‘Dont Give up on me. Don’t hate me back. Don’t react to my many moods, I need you to be stronger than me. When my room is a mess – ignore it, it looks how I feel inside. When I give out and tell you that you are the worst parent ever, that I hate you, I never mean it – I always need you to be a parent first. I need your love, your understanding, your knowledge more than you will ever know. I know I can be very hard to live with but I need you to know there are days when my head feels like it is going to explode, days when I doubt everything about me, days when social media makes me question my everything, it can be so confusing. My feelings get hurt at school, by teachers, guidance counsellors but mostly by other students. I don’t always tell you because sometimes I feel ashamed that it effects me so much. I know you are mad at me. I don’t blame you. Sometimes I say such mean horrible things to you. I push you away and stop talking to you. I try to
remember when this started, I remember a younger happier carefree version of me – what happened, when did everything get so confusing? Please dont’ give up on me. You are the one constant in my life, I need you.
If I could tell you how to help me, this is what I would say:
1. Take my electronics away – am I addicted? Yes I am. I try to put my phone down but I can’t. I am so tired of being available all of the time online. Social Media is a new drug, we are all addicted to it and so many of us are getting lost in it. I will fight with you but please just do it – I need YOU to set limits on technology for me.
2. Don’t yell at me – I know how hard it is not to yell at me – I know how frustrated you may be but please try to talk to me and not to yell at me – there are so many noises in my head already. When you yell it makes me feel so sad, I believe you are so disappointed in me, you are so sick of me. I question do you still love me?
3. Give me space – I am a teenager, I need alone time – I need space. That is what teenagers crave. Please try to remember what you felt like when you were a teenager? Some things have not changed that much. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with me because I spend so much time in my room – Im reading, listening to music, chatting to my friends, don’t worry so much please. I know you hear all the horror stories about teens spending too much time in their bedrooms but you ‘know’ me better than anyone. Im just taking time out.
4. Stop spoiling me – I need to understand life – the ups and the downs. I know you are doing the best for me but sometimes the best for me is;
-letting me learn from my mistakes,
-helping me to understand the value of money by giving me jobs to do if I want something,
-teaching me life skills to prepare me for living life independently,
-all of these will make me feel more capable and stronger in myself. I need to learn to be independent – to feed myself, wash my clothes, make decisions, have opinions. Please help me to feel stronger, more capable and more self reliant – if you don’t, who will?
5. Find me someone I can talk to (that isn’t you) – there are somethings I cannot talk to you about. When you were my age could you talk to your mum/dad about everything? I need another adult to look up to, to open up to, to help me to see myself more clearly. Someone who is not part of my immediate family. Just another ear and another voice that I can learn from and express myself to. Sometimes I have things in my life that I need to talk about but because you are my mum/dad I may feel embarrassed, or feel that I have left you down or believe that you might be disappointed in me. Do you understand? It is not about you (because you are wonderful) this is about me.
6. Tell me that you love me-I know you presume I ‘know’ you love me but honestly mum/dad I need to hear the words. I may pretend and act like I don’t care but I do care, I care more than anything. You are and will always be the most important person in my life and I love you. You are the person I rely on every day, you are my rock. In a world where sometimes I can feel so lost and alone at times – I know I have you.
My rant is over, please take it for what it is. I know parenting is really hard and frustrating but you are an amazing parent and I love you. Please remember through all the fights and arguments I see ‘everything’ you do for me and I appreciate it more than you will ever know.( I know I could show you more).
Love your frustrating, hormonal, moody, angry (at times) daughter/son who is trying to find her/his way in a very confusing, busy, overloaded world. She/he loves you very much.