If you have teenagers or have raised them, you know that it can be a very eye opening season of life. We have raised three teens and currently have 3 (almost 4) in the house right now, so needless to say, we have learned a lot AND we keep learning because each one is different.
One of the main things we have learned is not to assume that we know what our kids are thinking or how they view things because this can change with maturity,hormones, and sometimes just a bad day.
It’s important to remember that as our teens are preparing to spread their wings and fly on their own, more than likely their agendas and ideas WILL collide with ours. This can invoke fear in the hearts of parents as our kids question the status quo and learn to think for themselves. It’s really what we want, but the process can be painful.
One of the best ways to keep from freaking out under these circumstances is to stop and consider how our teens are thinking and feeling about life in general. I have to remind myself what it was like to be a teen. I certainly don’t remember it being the best time in my life. I was unsure of who I was, what others thought of me, where my life might lead and whether or not I would be “successful”. That’s a frightening and intimidating place to be.
I individually pulled aside our 3 teen boys who are 17, 16 and 14 and asked them all the same six questions. Of course, none of their answers were exactly the same. I thought I would share them with you, because, quite frankly, I always learn something new about my kids and where they are when I ask questions and give them a safe environment to answer. So here they are:
1. How do you think adults see teens in general?
“As young adults who just need more experience”
“It varies. Sometimes as immature but also as lucky because they don’thae as many worries.
Maybe even spoiled.”
2. Do you think they see YOU differently than other teens?
“I don’t know.”
“Yes, because I’m not rebellious…well, for the most part.”
“I haven’t thought much about it.”
3. How do you want them to to see you?
“I want them to respect me as a responsible young adult.”
“I want them to see me as a man.”
“A fun guy to hang out with and be around.”
4. What is the most challenging for you at this age?
“Not knowing what the future holds for me. Being frustrated because I don’t know where I’m going yet.
“School sometimes stresses me out because I’m afraid I won’t get through high school if I don’t do well on whatever I’m working on.”
(He’s in 8th grade)
“Not getting distracted while doing my schoolwork, even though I am a focused person.”
5. What could you tell adults that might surprise them?
“That when we challenge adults we actually really are trying to challenge ourselves to be
more grown up. We sometimes mistakenly feel like we shouldn’t be disciplined. Our questions aren’t usually meant to be disrespectful. We are trying to think for ourselves.”
“I forget a lot” (As his mom, I can tell you that I am painfully aware of this)
“There’s more temptation now days to get caught up in screen time and there’s more bad stuff out there that people seem to think is ok to show.”
6. What is the most encouraging things adults can do for you or say to you?
“I like when they tell me I’m doing a good job or compliment me on the things I do, like work”
“Playing basketball with me…oh wait, nevermind, that would just be fun. Okay, answer our questions without getting impatient”
“Any kind of encouragement. Compliment how I’m doing in school. Anytime I’ve done anything well, I like to be told.”
Have you thought about asking your teens some of these questions? Maybe you have some of your own? You may find out you know them better than you thought or that maybe you don’t! My guess is that it will be a little bit of both.
I encourage you to reach out to your teens and let them talk! Just the fact that we want to hear what they have to say makes them feel valuable and kids who feel valued, feel loved.