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Teenagers are the most misunderstood age group. They are often perceived as lazy, unintelligent, disrespectful, and hard to understand. There are plenty of things that parents can take into account when speaking with their teen. Acting like the boss of every conversation can drive a teen away from being honest and open about their ideas. This can disable the parent’s goal of understanding. Maybe even learn about the adult they are blossoming into. It’s important to listen in order to understand what’s on your teen’s mind. You might be surprised what you will hear.

1. Teens want to strive for a better future

The present is dealing with a lot more difficult issues around the world. Most teens want to get involved in creating change in the topics they are passionate about. But, keep in mind that every teen has a different way on how they will get their point across — whether it’s through protest, an art or a speech. There are many ways to create a powerful statement. Good change is incredibly important for the future ahead. Remember encouragement is a plus for your teen and they are more likely to try with the support of family and friends they can trust.

2. Some teens suffer from mental illness

Back in the older generation, mental illnesses were seen as excuses or made-up nonsense. However, those are false statements. Mental illness affects everyone, especially teens. The struggles of dealing with mental illness can make everyday things difficult to get through; it can be something as simple as communicating with another person or finishing a small task in class. It’s difficult to breathe when your mind is constantly nagging at you and telling you things about yourself that cause you to feel terrible. It’s important to know that your teen is really trying but might be afraid to ask for help. Make sure if you notice anything wrong, you let them know you’re there to help.

3. Teens are sensitive for a reason

Unfortunately, as much as we don’t want to admit, prejudice is still around. Anyone of colour, sexuality and mental or physical disability can relate. Verbal and physical attacks can hurt. Teens understand this well and want to speak out about it. Problem with that is they are labeled as oversensitive. The issues such as prejudice should not be taken lightly. These issues being fought for the way they are shows that teens care about the safety of everyone and that living in harmony is of value and it should be. Sometimes people who are considered to be privileged don’t listen or try to understand the issues that affect everyone but themselves. It’s normal to feel upset when no one knows what you’re going through.

4. Teens know what they want, sometimes they don’t

Everyone is different and has their skill or hobby that makes them happy. This also applies to teens. They can have dreams high above the clouds and spend a lot of time on that passion. You will notice the light behind their eyes when they indulge in something they enjoy. It’s important not to take their outlet and put it down. It will make them wonder why their special interest isn’t enough to make you proud. You might think that you know what is best for your teen or want a better future for them. But remember: teens know what they want and it’s good to acknowledge that.

Keep in mind that some teens don’t know what their special interest is yet. Remind them that it’s OK not to know what it is right away — that sometimes finding that one passion in life takes time. Try not to push any ideas on to them unless they ask for your input about the topic.

5. Teens need alone time

It’s understandable wanting to be involved in your teen’s life. You worry about their well-being or what sort of trouble they are getting into. If they are alone in their bedroom, don’t feel the need to barge in all the time. Sometimes a teen needs their privacy to calm down or to enjoy the peace. Sometimes their bedroom carries an essence of their personality. It’s their little sanctuary that they have control over. Feel open to let your teen know its OK to have alone time and if they need to talk about something, they are free to do so. But showing anger or trying to control the conversation might drive your teen away. Allowing them to have space will create less tension between both of you.

Rachel Barduhn, 21, lives in Scarborough, Ontario

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