Out of the Mouths of Babes

Out of the Mouths of Babes
May 17, 2013 Kim Goldman

We asked teens: 

“If you could tell parents 5-10 things on how to be more effective with you …


As many of us can recall from our own personal experiences as teenagers, the road through adolescence wasn’t always as smooth as we had hoped. We dealt with peer pressure, fitting in, first loves, first heartaches, pimples, sex, drugs/alcohol, etc. It’s really no different for youth today, in terms of the issues they struggle with on a daily basis.

We all know, the teen years can be a difficult time period for both the child and the parents/guardians.  When a child enters adolescence, their desire for independence drives their moods and decisions, and ultimately can be a sticking point for parents who are struggling with “letting go” while also maintaining authority in the home.  It can be a tricky balance between being a responsible parent and enforcing rules/boundaries and allowing your child the freedom they desire.  This is an area that most families express as “difficult”, so you are not alone!

Tina, a Youth Project staff member, asked her Family Communications group “what advice do you have for parents to better understand teens today?”  Below are a few common themes among their responses.


Be Patient

“Please be patient when asking us to do something.”

“Stop getting mad at us and walking away yelling or muttering under your breath.  You don’t like when we do it either.”



“Listen… even if you don’t think it’s important.”

“Take the time to listen to us and understand where we are coming from, even if you disagree.”

“I don’t always want a lecture, sometimes I just need to talk.”

Don’t Always Assume

“Just because you think my friends do drugs doesn’t mean it’s true or that I am!”

“Stop being so judgmental and trust your own kids.”

“Don’t always assume we are up to no good.”

Don’t Belittle My Problems

“My problems matter!”

“Please stop saying, ‘it can’t be that bad.'”

“STOP belittling my ‘teenage’ problems.”

“It’s not just puppy love!”


Be a Positive Role Model

“Don’t be a hypocrite and tell me what not to do and then go and do it yourself.”

“Please be my parent, not my friend.  I haven plenty of those.”



“Please spend time with me; running errands doesn’t count.”

“It makes me feel good, when you take an interest in things that I like.”



Teenagers simply want caring parents who will be patient and listen to their problems.  They want to be trusted and treated with equal respect.  They are aware that their problems may be different than other kids (or what you might have dealt with as a child) but it should not mean that theirs are less important.

Most essentially, young adolescences need a positive role model who they can turn to, to guide them through these murky waters.   They need parents, who discipline and create boundaries but who also provide love, compassion and a willingness to be open.



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