Whether we want our parents to understand that social media isn’t all bad, to recognize our pressures at school, or to realize we appreciate them even if we don’t show it, here are three more things we teens want parents to know:
WE HAVE TO MAKE MISTAKES TO LEARN
As much as I (and probably my parents too) hate to say it, when I mess up and make mistakes is when I learn the most. Whether it’s an unnecessary fight with my brother or not telling the full truth about where I am going, it is how I recognize and respond to the situation that ensures it will not happen again. When I know I am doing something wrong, and when I follow through against my better judgment is when I learn the most about myself. As I get older and consequences for my actions become more significant, I have learned how to handle situations where I know I am in the wrong and then shape how I will proceed in future similar situations.
While the “I am just disappointed” and “I thought we taught you better” conversations with my parents are sometimes necessary, by figuring out what I did wrong on my own and being disappointed in myself has helped me to develop the skill to know not to make the same mistakes. No matter how many times I get a talking to from my parents, I am beating myself up 20 times more. It is impossible to grow up without making mistakes. We are figuring it out, and are going to have to make a mistake or two to learn our own rights and wrongs.
DON’T TAKE AWAY OUR PHONES
As someone whose parents have taken away my phone as punishment, I can confidently say that all it does is create sneaky, unhappy, resentful kids — I didn’t learn a lesson, but just resented them. By cutting off one source of communication, we discover 10 more ways of going behind your back to reinstall that communication. We are not trying to deliberately disobey you, but we find other ways to get in touch with our friends because they provide support for us 24 hours a day, and they understand what we are going through.
Our phones also allow us to keep track of our social lives, manage our school and other activities, and most important, are an outlet when life gets hard by providing us a way to listen to music, watch a show, or talk with a friend. However, I think setting boundaries and reasonable screen time limits after we have violated your trust is a fair compromise, as long as we still have the ability to communicate with our friends. Taking away our phones as punishment takes away part of our emotional support — there may be a friend going through something similar or even an online figure or influencer who we feel understands us and helps us get through hard times.
KINDNESS AND PATIENCE ARE KEY
Take it as a compliment when we teenagers come to you as a wreck of emotions and need help figuring it out. We come to you at our worst and best, because we know we can trust you to hear us out and validate all our feelings. If we did something bad, don’t know how to tell you, and just blurt it out and start crying or come home from school after a long day and just vent to you, we want your help and guidance and just ask for your respect and patience.
Also, when we come to you after something big has happened, good or bad, and we can talk about it calmly, from personal experience, we have processed everything by ourselves because we believe no one will hear us out otherwise. It is important to have calm and mature conversations about big things going on in our lives, but the more emotion coming from us during those conversations shows the ways we feel validated by your acceptance and advice.
Parents, we love you and know the sacrifices you make for us. However, sometimes you have to let us take the reins and figure things out for ourselves before we step out into the world on our own without you right next to us.
Read part one of Madison’s column here.
Madison is a junior at St. Ignatius College Prep. When not playing water polo, she likes to hang out with her friends, volunteer, and spend time with family.