By Madison Cook | Staff Writer
Oh… the good ole’ teenage years. Six of the most stressful and emotional, yet incredibly AWESOME years of our lives when we are finally discovering who we really are – our interests, passions, true friends – the things that mean the most to us. It is during this time that we move away from the sheltered years of our childhood to the beginning of our long adulthood.
And no, you didn’t read that wrong. ADULThood. Adult as in… Well, that’s where it gets kind of complicated. You see, teenagers crave freedom. Something about living spontaneous, free-willed lives is ridiculously enticing to the young mind. We feel as if we are ready to take on the real world and be considered adults, boldly taking down any and every obstacle in our way. That is until we get pulled over for driving after curfew with five friends crammed in the back seat. We are then thrust back into reality where we are still just immature, inexperienced kids.
Teens are, well, needy. We are hard to figure out and sometimes we can’t even figure out ourselves. What exactly is it that we need from our parents during this emotional time? We need our parents to understand us! In order to really connect with teens, parents have to be willing to really listen, taking the time to understand what is actually on their child’s mind before jumping to conclusions. Parents need to find the perfect balance in establishing this relationship while being ok with the fact that all teens are naturally going to try to break away.
Recently, I have learned that as much as I may try to break away from my parents, it is during these years that I need parental influence more than ever. Often times, teens like me get too caught up in the present to realize the consequences our actions will have in the future. Needless to say, I don’t always think my choices through as thoroughly as I probably should. That’s what makes me – and other teens – who we are and teaches us the most important life lessons going forward. Kids with overprotective parents who are shielded from the real world risk losing out on these crucial opportunities for growth. I am not afraid of failure, as my teenage years have allowed me to recognize that I have to mess up in order to truly learn from my mistakes.
The reality remains: teenagers are going to get in trouble, we are curious about the many wonders of the world around us, and parents will never be able to completely tame our rebellious side. But parents underestimate the impact they can have on their teenagers when it comes to controlling this adventurous side, especially when they offer genuine advice and constructive criticism. I have witnessed firsthand some pre-homecoming outfit disasters between my closest friends and their parents, and my opinion remains the same. Teens respond much better to, “You know, Sarah, that dress is cute but maybe a little too showy,” than “You look trashy! Take that off now!” Friendly reminders are much more effective than all-out demands because they make us feel like we are still in control.
This harmonious balance is going to look different for every family, but I am happy to say I think my family has finally nailed it!
Editor’s Note: Madison is a rising junior at Greenhill School and a regular contributor to Good Life Family.
What do you think is the perfect “balance”?
“I think parents are there for their children to lead them in the right direction and raise them to be able to live on their own. However, I think parents become too involved when they start telling their children exactly what to do in their life. On the other hand, if parents aren’t making sure that their children are on the right path then they need to be more involved.”
– Jake Hershman, rising junior, Greenhill School
“Parents should be there to help you with major decisions in your life, but they must also respect teenagers’ need for privacy. The perfect balance is telling them something is going on in your life, and them giving you the chance to figure it out on your own and only interfering if it’s necessary or you want their help.”
– Chandler Weiss, rising junior, Plano West Senior High School