Growing up as a part of Generation Z differs from how our parents grew up. While many things are the same, new challenges come with growing up in an age of technology and social media. Here are some things that my friends and I have discussed that we wish our parents knew:
Parents, your teens wish you knew this…
- Don’t compare our challenges to your challenges as a teen
I’m sure life was difficult growing up for almost everyone. And the struggles you may have faced may seem worse than the ones we face. But that doesn’t mean that our feelings aren’t valid. Saying, “I had it much worse,” invalidates what we are feeling.
Instead, try to empathize with your child. Even though it may seem like your teen is overreacting about not making the soccer team, forgetting their homework, or being excluded, things like this feel like huge issues to teenagers.
- Treat your son(s) and daughters(s) equally
It isn’t fair to allow your son to stay out until midnight at age 16 but make your daughter come home at 9 pm. Be sure to ask both your son(s) and your daughter(s) to help with things such as cleaning the house, doing dishes, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, and helping with groceries.
- Have open conversations with us
Don’t make certain topics off-limits. Talk about sex, relationships, mental health, drugs, and alcohol. It is normal for teens to experiment with risky behaviors, but it is much safer if they feel comfortable enough to ask questions and talk to you about them.
- Words hurt
Even if you think what you’re saying is helpful, be mindful that many teens are sensitive to what you say and take it very much to heart. Your child does look up to you as a person, so even little, off-the-cuff remarks that you might not think could be hurtful can damage a child’s self-image quite a bit. Think about what you’re saying and try to say it constructively.
- Privacy and trust are important
Don’t go through your child’s things randomly if you don’t have a reason to. Don’t read your child’s journal. This just breaches their trust and teaches them to be more sneaky. Don’t constantly ask your child if they were out drinking or doing drugs. Believe them when they tell you where they were.
- Being a teen is stressful, and sometimes we just need a break
Teenagers have a lot on their plate, including dealing with the stress of getting good grades and high ACT or SAT scores, completing college applications, and participating in extracurricular activities. Let them relax, and don’t constantly remind them to do this or that; sometimes, they just need a break. Also, if your child is no longer interested in a sport they are good at, let it go. You shouldn’t force them to do a sport if they are not enjoying it.
- Growing up with social media, self-confidence can be difficult
Social media allows us to see other people’s lives and how happy they seem. Feeling confident when seeing how perfect other people look in their photos can be difficult.
- We appreciate you even if we don’t always show it
We are always grateful for everything you have done for us, whether packing us lunch or taking us to sports practice. We are truly thankful, so you don’t have to keep reminding us, “look at everything I do for you,” even if we seem ungrateful sometimes.
- Let us express ourselves without judgment
A huge part of being a teenager is trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life. Many teens are still trying to find themselves, which explains why many teenagers might dress “oddly” or wear things they wouldn’t have worn. Don’t judge them for their choice of clothing, hairstyles, etc.
- Not every conversation has to be a lesson
If your child is telling you a story or something that happened to them, don’t always try to turn it into a lesson. If you do this, they may be hesitant to tell you what is going on in their lives.
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