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What teens wish their parents knew

The joys and challenges of a modern teenager, in her own words

We are turning the tables this month and giving a teen, my daughter, Madison, a chance to give us parents some advice. I learned a lot from reading her tips, and I hope you benefit from these also. 
— Liz Farrell

Teenagers can be tough to figure out. As one myself, I know that parenting us is no easy task. There are good days and some bad days. We struggle with trying to balance strong emotions, relationship problems, academics, and extracurriculars all while trying not to disappoint you, our parents. 

We are juggling a lot and as a result, sometimes we want to be alone, and sometimes we know you bear the brunt of our emotions. We are not always good at communicating how we are feeling or what is going on in our head, and we know that can be frustrating. But here are three things that most teens, at least me, wish our parents knew. 

SOCIAL MEDIA ISN’T ALL BAD

The first time I downloaded Instagram, I didn’t really know why other than the fact that it was the coolest thing on earth and all my friends had it. When I downloaded TikTok, it was to watch funny videos and dance with my friends. Little did I know at the time all the horrible things that can be said and the bad decisions that can be made on social media. I am grateful to have parents who helped me navigate things I was unaware of when I downloaded my first social media app. 

When Covid–19 first hit, and I was starting my freshman year of high school, I was allowed to get Snapchat as a way to meet my fellow classmates online. Snapchat turned out to be where I first met many of my current friends during distance learning, and to this day I am grateful that it allowed me to know at least some people when we returned to in-person learning. Social media is the main form of communication I use with my friends, and although it can be dangerous, by educating yourself and taking care toward what you are putting out in the world, it does not have to be all bad.

THE PRESSURE IS REAL

As I get older, the increasing stress from teachers and classmates, as well as from myself becomes more prevalent. When I get home after a bad test or assignment — already feeling like I disappointed everyone around me — all I want is a hug from my parents and appreciation for trying my best. The validation that I receive when my parents notice and appreciate my hard work goes much further than another person telling me to do better next time. 

As someone who has social media, I am constantly seeing college rejection videos, being reminded of acceptance rates, and that if I slip up even once it can cost me my future. 

All of this does not mean my parents never have a right to get frustrated or talk with me about a grade, but acknowledging my hard work makes me want to do much better next time, especially because they let me have the space to work it out on my own.

WE APPRECIATE YOU, EVEN IF WE DON’T SHOW IT

When I first got my driver’s license and my schedule started to get busier, the time I got to spend with my parents quickly lessened. Because I was driving myself, I didn’t get to spend time with them going to and from school, practice, friends’ houses, and so on. 

Due to this, the time we did spend together became more and more meaningful — even if it was just sitting with me at the table late at night after practice eating dinner. 

I began to appreciate the little things my parents did so much more, whether it was my mom starting my laundry when she knew I had a big week ahead, or just not being on their phones when I was telling them about my day. Even if we don’t always say thank you or give you a big hug, we know when you go out of your way for us and we value the time we get to spend with you. 

I am already halfway through high school, and while my teenage years have been and will continue to get even more exciting, one of the most important things to me is maintaining a healthy and fun relationship with my parents. 

As things are moving fast and constantly changing for us, all we ask is for your patience and your trust. We are going to make mistakes; it comes with the territory of being a teenager. Let us do it our way, even if it means we have to learn from our mistakes and accept the consequences. In the end, your love, support, and presence are what we want and need the most. 

Madison is a sophomore at St. Ignatius College Prep. When not playing water polo she likes to  make Tik Toks with her friends. She also likes volunteering and spending time with her family and friends. 

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