By Cheryl Maguire
When my twins were first born, I had an endless amount of questions about child rearing.
Now that my twins are teens, in many ways I feel like a new mom again since raising teens is such a perplexing and confusing experience. Their behaviors are often hard for me to figure out. Like, why do they always feel the need to close the door? or why do they want to spend every waking moment with their friends?
My initial reaction when I’m feeling bewildered (which is often) is to grab my phone and Google it. And then I wonder, how did my mother raise me without an Internet connection?
Fortunately, parents do have the ability to easily find answers to their questions which will hopefully make parenting a teenager a little less daunting. As a former counselor for adolescents in a residential facility, I can answer some common questions asked by parents of teens and also provide links to articles for more information. Here are the top eight questions most Googled by parents of teenagers.
1. Why do teens do drugs?
During my time working with teens, there was a myriad of reasons why they choose to use drugs. It ranged from peer pressure to mental health issues (a form of self-medication). Here is an article related to why some teens use drugs:
Suffering From Teen Drug Use: Why Do Teenagers Use Drugs?
If you are concerned your teen is using drugs or alcohol this article discusses signs to look for and options to get treatment:
Signs of Alcohol Abuse and Drug Use in Teens: What To Look For
The best way to help prevent your teen from using drugs is to have open communication with them about drugs and how they are feeling in all areas of their life (friends, school, sports, etc.). Here is an article related to the importance of communication in preventing drug use:
Teen Risk Taking: What Should Parents Worry About?
2. Why do teens cut themselves?
Cutting yourself is a form of self-injury. When I worked in the residential treatment center, often teens cut themselves as a way to deal with their depression or other negative emotions. If you notice your teen is cutting themselves it is important to seek the help of a mental health professional so your teen can learn more appropriate coping mechanism for dealing with their emotions. Here are some related articles:
Teen Self Harm: How Can You Help A Teenager Who Injures Herself?
Dealing with Self-Injury: Understanding Risk And Helping Prevention
Teenagers And Cutting: I Was A Teenage Cutter. How I Stopped Cutting
3. Why do teens drink?
Similar to using drugs, teens often drink alcohol because of peer pressure or as a form of self-medication. Alcohol is also more accessible and acceptable to use than illegal drugs. Some of the teens I worked with had parents or who either used or abused alcohol, making it easy for them to obtain it. Here some related articles:
The Age-Old Question: Why Do Teenagers Drink Alcohol?
Can You Prevent Underage Drinking? Realistic Ways to Talk About Alcohol
Officer Pat Shares Facts About Teenage Drug and Alcohol Use
4. Why do teens smoke?
Despite laws regulating smoking in select public areas and the increased price of cigarettes, teens still smoke cigarettes. In over fifty percent of the US states the law regarding the age to purchase tobacco is 18 which makes it more accessible than alcohol. The most common reason teens begin smoking is that their friends or parents smoke. Once they start, smoking is highly addictive. Here some related articles:
Teens Using Tobacco: Dip, Cigarettes, Hookahs and More
How Many Teenagers Smoke: Is Teen Smoking Still Popular?
There’s No Foolproof Way of Raising Teens: Warning Signs of Trouble
5. Why do teens vape?
Vaping is smoking using an e-cigarette. Even though the user does not inhale tobacco, they are still inhaling a vapor containing nicotine. Currently, there are not any state laws requiring proof of age to purchase e-cigarettes which means it is easily attainable for teens. Since e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, teens believe it is a healthy option than cigarette. Here some related articles:
Teenagers Are Smoking E-Cigarettes: Should We Worry About Vaping?
Is Vaporizing Safer Than Smoking? Why Vaping Isn’t Healthy For Teens
What is Juuling? The New Teen Vaping Device You May Not Recognize
6. Why do teens need more sleep?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that teens sleep for 8-10 hours per night. Sleep is necessary to aid in physical, intellectual and emotional growth. But a teen’s busy schedules including sports, homework and spending time with friends often means a later bedtime combined with an early start time (my kids are on the bus at 6:40 am). The end result is not getting enough sleep. Here some related articles:
How Much Sleep Do Teens Need? More Than They’re Getting
Teens Not Getting Enough Sleep? Practical Sleep Advice for Parents
Sleeping Teens: Helping Your Teen Get A Better Night’s Sleep
7. Why do teens get acne?
The exact cause of acne is unknown but hormones, stress and genetic do contribute to developing it. Since teens experience an increase in hormones this may be why they develop it more than adults do. The best treatment for acne is using facial cleanser and if necessary seeing a dermatologist. Here some related articles:
Dealing with Acne: There’s No Need to Suffer Through Life with Pimples
Teenage Skin Problems: Acne, Skincare, and Sunscreen
From Acne Myths to Causes: Acne Advice From Pediatric Dermatologists
8. Why do teens commit suicide?
Suicide is a complex issue. Teens may commit suicide because they feel hopeless or pain due to depression. There are some incidents when teens felt bullied or experienced abuse that led to suicide. If you think your teen is having suicidal thoughts contact a mental health professional or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Here are some related articles:
What Parents Need to Know About Preventing Teen Suicide
Discussing Teen Suicide and Prevention: What Do Our Teens Think?
About Teen Depression: What To Look For and How To Discuss Suicide
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Maguire holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Parents Magazine, AARP, Healthline, Your Teen Magazine, Good Life Family, and many other publications.
Editor’s Note: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and does not constitute medical or other professional advice.