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Parental Anxiety: Teen “Experts” Tell Parents What to Worry About

Parents worry. All the time. About just about everything. In this forum we’ve asked parents what they worry about. In turn, these parents have asked teens what they should worry about, and the teens have plenty to say.

Mindy

In our family, we have covered various topics, from the serious – parents trusting teenagers in difficult situations – to the not so serious – the influence of “Jersey Shore.” I must admit, you all seem quite confident in your ability to handle these situations, while we parents worry about them.

So tell me, “What should I be worried about?” Are there issues, behaviors or situations that need more attention or closer scrutiny from parents? What are we not aware of that we should be? Yes, I am asking for your advice.


 

Dan

I do worry (a lot!!!) about drugs, alcohol, sex, peer pressure. I think I have trust in my kids and am generally happy with who they’ve become. I don’t necessarily worry about what a teacher thinks, unless a pattern is developing – I believe I know my kid better.

But…I agree with Mom. Tell me what I’m missing. What should I worry about?


Devan

One thing that I believe parents take too casually is The Talk. Parents need to take more initiative to have the birth control talk with their kids. I have a lot of friends who are so afraid of what their parents will think if they ask to be put on the pill that they won’t even bring it up. As a result, they take dangerous risks. I think every parent needs to have this talk with their kids when they enter high school, whether or not you believe your son or daughter is sexually active. I have met several girls in college that have made VERY irresponsible decisions when they were intoxicated and had to then worry about their health and whether or not they were pregnant. It is a serious reality.

It makes me mad when I hear about a parent who is so blinded and misinformed that they skip talking to their kids about sex because of excuses. “My kid would never do that.” “My kid is smarter than that.” “Our family doesn’t believe in pre-marital sex.” “If I don’t talk to my daughter about birth control then she won’t have sex.”

These excuses are ridiculous and irresponsible as a parent. I understand that in most cases there is some sort of religious reason or belief that abstinence is the best way not to get pregnant. But in today’s society it’s not worth the risk to make a judgment as to whether your kid is practicing abstinence.

Like I have said before, I am sure a parent would rather have the uncomfortable discussion about birth control then having to hear their child tell them they are pregnant. If I ever come to have a family of my own this is a conversation that will not be skipped.


Amnon

Know thy child! Here’s an example. When I was younger, my best friend’s parents received a call from the school about his crayon drawings in class. He drew animals in the wild and depicted a lion killing an animal – scribbling with red crayon for blood. The school was worried that he was disturbed, and one might assume that of a second grader drawing such things.

However, his parents knew their son well. They knew he was – and is to this very day – an extremely serious, aware, and mature child. From a very young age, he has had a fascination with and understanding of wildlife and its nature (he used to love National Geographic/Discovery Channel). His drawings were simply what he knew to be the truth. It was his appreciation of nature, not a representation of gory, dark thoughts. When he was 12 years old, he became a vegan aspiring farmer, motivating his family to use worm composting and just recently persuaded his family to buy chickens.

His parents knew the reason for his behavior because he was their son and they knew him well. Parents know (from raising them) the qualities of their children and how they develop. A parent will know if there is something to worry about for their child. They will know if something is wrong with their child. Trusting their understanding of their kid is the best thing to do.

Of course, just because one’s kid is responsible does not mean that he or she shouldn’t be warned against the dangers associated with being a teenager. It’s important to let him or her know what can go wrong and how to prevent it.

So don’t worry yourself sick and become suspicious of what your kid is doing, because then there is potential for an unhealthy relationship (which can lead to rebellious behavior). Have trust and enjoy watching your child grow up and take on the responsibilities of adulthood.


Ryan

I think if there’s one thing parents should be more aware of it’s how much their kids are involved with drugs and alcohol. I don’t think parents really understand how alcohol and drugs can totally ruin their kid’s lives. How can a parent just look the other way when they know their kids have used drugs or had alcohol? Are they aware that drugs and alcohol will not only ruin your kids reputation, but also possibly take their lives?

I mean come on. I find that the quote from the Pepsi Max commercial, “Wake up people!”, should be painted across some parents’ eyes in permanent marker. Some parents are very good about supervising how much their kids are involved with alcohol. But other parents really do need to wake up when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

Mindy Gallagher

Mindy Gallagher is Your Teen Magazine’s social media editor and a mom to three boys.