The terminal condition of being a teenager is that we will be perpetually annoyed. It’s our age, partly. It could be school, work, peers, or society in general. But often, we are annoyed with our almost always well-meaning parents. Find out what we see as bad parenting.
5 Habits We Wish You’d Reconsider
1. You don’t notice the good we do.
A lot of kids I know have jobs, school, and multiple extra-curriculars to deal with. They’re doing community service projects, and they’re working extra hard at a sport or exercise routine. They take every advanced course the school offers, and then some. They’re up until one in the morning getting all their work done so that they’ll pass all those classes with flying colors.
And they’ll still be called lazy because they haven’t taken out the trash on time. Maybe this doesn’t describe every teen, but it often feels like our flops gather much more attention than our efforts.
2. You press the things we don’t want to talk about.
If your teen comes home from school and seems down, or stops hanging out with a friend they used to like, or won’t talk about how things are going in an extracurricular, ask them why. If they don’t want to talk about it, let it go. Teens hate to be forced to talk about things that they haven’t fully worked out themselves. And we feel cornered if we have to.
3. You monitor our activities (especially without telling us).
Parents like to know the password to their teens’ online accounts, to be accessed in case of an emergency. That’s fine, and totally understandable.
But some parents grow too invasive and take this idea uncomfortably far. Constantly checking a teen’s browsing history, or checking every e-mail they receive, makes a teen feel wronged. Even worse is when the monitoring is done in secret. Constant breathing down a teen’s neck can destroy mutual trust.
4. You get angry when we stick up for ourselves.
Teenagers get this all the time. During an argument, they feel (sometimes rightly) that their voice isn’t being heard. So they object that they are being treated unfairly, only to be told that they are “back-talking” and need to be quiet.
From a young age, kids are taught to stick up for themselves—in fact, it’s their right. But suddenly the tables are turned when parents are concerned, and that double standard is really irritating.
5. You demand our respect.
It’s important to make the distinction between two different implied definitions of the word “respect” in this case. Respect can mean (1) respect as authority or (2) respect as a person. These two connotations are often confused.
Sometimes, when adults speak of mutual respect, they mean that if a teen doesn’t respect them as authority, they won’t respect the teen as a person in return. But sometimes parents need to remember that they need to earn respect as authority. It is reasonable to expect your teen to respect you as a person. But teens do not accept “I am your mother/father, and you must respect me” as a valid claim. Demanding respect as authority will always lead to resentment from a teen.
We know you love us. We know raising us is hard. But these five examples of bad parenting (at least from our perspective) are easy to change. And we’d be so grateful.