What Your Teenager Won't Tell You
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Teen Angst Explained1 of 11
By Woman's Day
Wonder what’s bugging your teen? It’s hard to be certain when all your son does is grunt and your daughter won’t stop rolling her eyes. So rather than pressing our own kids to talk — not going to happen! — we asked teenagers from around the country what messages they wish they could share with their moms and dads.
She Needs Privacy2 of 11
“I hate that my parents don’t give me any personal space,” says Eleanor, 14. Even if your children share a room, give each child an area that’s off-limits to everyone else in the family (including you), such as a desk or a spare closet. To show that you respect your teen’s privacy, don’t rummage through her personal space unless you have a concrete reason to believe that she’s lying to you or hiding something serious.
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He Needs Your Ear3 of 11
“I want to tell my mom and dad everything,” says Keegan, 13, “but I don’t want to listen to them nag.” Understand that sometimes your kids just want a sounding board. When your son complains that his science teacher is being unfair or his soccer coach has been extra-hard on him, encourage him to talk by asking open-ended questions. Don’t jump in with advice or threaten to intervene.
She Hides Dates4 of 11
“I didn’t tell my parents about a guy I dated for a year, because they didn’t allow me to have boyfriends,” says Marla, 15. “They knew we hung out, but I’d say, ‘Oh, we’re just friends.’” Instead of forcing your daughter to sneak around, let her start with group dates, where at least four other kids are with her and her date at all times.
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He Hides Grades5 of 11
“I don’t tell my parents when I get a bad grade because I don’t want to listen to them tell me how I’ve let them down,” says Sam, 16, who says he occasionally fails a quiz but usually makes up for it with better exam scores. If your son feels like he can vent to you about bombing a quiz or a book report, you won’t have to wait until the end of a semester to find out he’s struggling in school.
She Hates Sex Talk6 of 11
“My mom knows I’ve kissed a boy,” says Sonia, 15, “but I don’t want to tell her anything else.” According to a 2005 government survey, less than half of high school students (47 percent) said they’d had sex. Still, it’s safest to educate your teen about birth control or preventing STDs. Don’t press her for details, but do offer advice.
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He Hates Comparison7 of 11
“When [my little brother] swears or picks a fight with me or my older brother, [my parents] say, ‘He’s 7. He doesn’t know any better,’ says Henry, 13. “But when I was his age, I would have been in big trouble for swearing.” While it’s natural to become more lax as you have more children, it’s important to consider each unique situation, not just your children's ages.
She Needs Some Slack8 of 11
“It makes me sad when my mom screams at me when I’m already down,” says Erin, 17. When you’re upset, take some deep breaths. A few minutes might give you perspective (is it really worth it to lose your cool over dirty laundry?) and a chance to evaluate your daughter’s mood. Perhaps she’s ignored the laundry because she’s stressed about school or antsy about a boy who hasn’t called her back.
He Hides the Truth9 of 11
“Sometimes I don’t come home because I’m too drunk to drive,” says Aaron, 19. “If I told my parents that, they’d flip out, so I lie.” While it would be irresponsible to give underage drinking the green light, you don’t want your child to be in an unsafe situation because he’s rushing to be home on time. If your son calls just before curfew and says he needs a ride, save your questions (and lectures) for the morning.
Don’t Use Age10 of 11
“I can’t stand it when my parents say, ‘You’re 17. Act like a grownup,’ one day, and then turn around and say, ‘You’re not old enough to do that. You’re only 17,’ the next,” says Izzy. “Which is it? Make up your mind!” Give your child hard-and-fast rules that aren’t dependent on a number. (“Visiting friends at college isn’t allowed until you’re in college yourself.”)
Trust Him11 of 11
“My parents don’t trust that I don’t do drugs,” says Steven, 15. “And I really hate that they believe what other people tell them instead of what I tell them.” Constantly accusing your kids of this or that — especially if your accusations are unfounded — breeds mistrust. Trust your kids until they give you a real reason not to.