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Do Teenagers Listen to Advice Parents Give Them?

Recently, I asked some other moms to share advice they wish someone had told them when they were teens. The list, shared below, is amazing. But I wonder if hearing it would have made a difference then?

Advice for parents too:

At a time when they are trying to learn for themselves and figure out who they are, giving advice to teens is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s unsolicited, and sometimes they seek it, but in either case they often get upset when they hear it. Or they simply don’t follow it at all.

But are adults any different?

I’m a grown woman and I often react to advice in the same way I did as a teenager. A few weeks ago, I told my mother about some potential plans I was considering and she proceeded to advise me on what I should do next. Like every person with a mother, I didn’t really want to hear it.

It’s too early to tell what will happen next. It is possible that I will ignore her and regret it later.

But it is more likely that even though I will roll my eyes and not acknowledge what she said, my mother’s words will still have entered my bloodstream and become part of me. Whether I want it to happen or not, her advice will factor into my decision. And chances are, though it pains me to admit it, I will make a better choice because of what she said.

While there is such a thing as bad advice, I think that most parents—my mother included—have the best intentions in mind when they offer guidance and make suggestions. After all, that’s the essence of advice: Thoughtful words from someone who knows and loves you, offering a bigger picture and a different perspective. Thoughtful words like the ones below that we moms wish someone had told us when we were teenagers.

Ultimately, our teenagers will make their choices and live with them, and we can only hope that they will take at least some of our advice into consideration.

Advice like:

Keep playing because it’s fun.

Choose your friends wisely.

Join the team even if your friend doesn’t make it.

Study a little harder.

Put yourself out there.

You’re not alone.

Don’t quit the band.

What other people think doesn’t matter.

You’re worth more than you think you are.

Don’t settle.

Stick with tough classes.

Try for more than the minimum.

Be more accepting of support and encouragement.

Relax about the future—there are many kinds of happy endings.

Just do you.

Good things are coming.

Laugh more.

A C in geometry will not change the trajectory of your life.

Most of the time, we never know where our advice will land, but I think that’s okay. It’s enough to plant the seed. Our teenagers may not appreciate what we say in the moment, but saying it still matters. They can always tuck away the words and pull them out when they’re ready for them.

Jody has spent her life around teens, as a teacher and as a parent of three.

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