Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Lessons Teens Have For Their Parents

Each semester I ask my 60 freshman college students to reflect on their life as  teens prior to college. I asked them to complete these two statements: I wish my parents had, and I am glad that my parents.....After each statement, I've got something to say(in italics)!  Of course I do! I have narrowed them down to the 5 most frequent responses.

  • I wish my parents knew how much I actually loved and respected them instead of taking my mistakes personally. Too often parents see themselves reflected in their kids, both in their triumphs, and in their downfalls.  Whatever your teen accomplishes or doesn't accomplish is on them!  If they do well it doesn't mean you are the greatest parent in the world, and if they fail, it doesn't mean you are the worst parent in the world. Cause guess what? It isn't always about you!     

  • I wish my parents had understood how scared I was about my future in high school, and the pressure I felt to succeed.  I know how worried parents get about their teens future. Your teens feel your worry, and your disappointmentLayered on that is their own worry and disappointment when they don't do as well as they want, even when they know it's their own fault.  When they are worried and scared and disappointed, it often shows itself with anger and attitude. That is much easier to express then shame and doubt. Try to see through it!    

  • I wish my parents hadn't compared me with my other siblings, and pressured me to meet their high standards. We are not the same. Another student said on the same topic: I wish my parents understood that I am not following in my brother's footsteps. I 'm not going to do everything like him. I am going to make my own mistakes. All children are not created equal. You may think that you treat all your kids equally, but those kids who don't measure up to what they believe the family standard is may always feel not good enough unless you make a supreme effort to make them think otherwise.    

  • I wish my parents had understood how their divorce effects me today. They tried to drag me in the middle, and I always felt I had to fend for myself. Families face all kinds of crisis.  Divorce, chronic illness, financial worries, moves away from friends, all manner of life events. Teens are resilient, they can handle alot, but they need the adults in their life to have realistic expectations. When you are overwhelmed with your stress it can overshadow what your kids might be experiencing. They are not good at talking about it, and it may look as if they have it all under control. Trust me, they don't!   

  • I wish my parents had been more aware of the mistakes I was making in high school by paying more attention and helping me. and another student:I wish my parents had been more aware of my relationship so I had someone to talk to when things got physical and bad. and another student: I wish my parents had understood I wanted them to push me harder through school/soccer. and another student: I wish my parents had pushed me to try new things, ie sports, clubs,  or summer camp. and another student: I wish my parents had pushed me more to want to get better grades, and to care more about school work. and another student: I wish my parents had taught me better homework study habits and were more involved academically. I could go on here, there are many more statements on this theme. I bet what these students are saying is surprising. Because  I'm sure every time you go into your teen's room to make sure they are doing their homework, they give you the evil eye. Well guess what, when they get to college and no one is giving them the evil eye they often don't get their work done. Don't stop bugging them, just cause they tell you to. They need you to help them integrate good study habits.  Too much facebook, too much texting, too much distraction. They also want you to push them a little harder to help them find something that will give them a feeling of accomplishment, especially if it isn't school. Don't let them off  the hook easily when it comes to after-school expectations. Sometimes it's not that they don't want to do anything, they just can't figure out what the something should be. Bottom line, though they tell you to get out of their lives, they don't really mean it. 
Here is a link to my most recent Facebook live broadcast. Joani's Ten Minute Teen Troubleshooting Parenting Tip: The Gotcha Fight...Enjoy

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