Teens often forget that their parents were once in their shoes. Although times and technology have changed, the struggles and uncertainty that come with being a teenager have not.
It’s common for parents to feel pressure from those around them to be “perfect,” just like teens do. Parents may hesitate to share the mistakes and struggles of their teenage years with their own kids out of fear that their kids will think differently of them.
Open Up to Your Teen
Even though it seems scary at first, sharing mistakes or hardships from your teenage years allows you to be vulnerable with your child. This level of vulnerability signals to your child that you respect them enough to be honest with them.
Ask your teen about their friends, peer pressure, what’s happening at school, and any anxieties they might have. You can also use this as an opportunity for your teen to get to know you better. Don’t forget that an engaging and productive conversation goes both ways.
North Star Youth Partnership Encourages Teens to Connect with Parents
North Star Youth Partnership (NSYP) Health Educator Tia has seen firsthand how parents’ vulnerability can profoundly and positively impact teens. North Star is a program that offers recreational, leadership, and service-learning opportunities to help Arizona youth grow up to be confident adults.
When Tia asks her class to go home and talk to their parents about the topic for the day, the students are often surprised at their parents’ responses. Many times, they return stating, “I didn’t know my [parent] actually experienced something similar,” or “I would have never believed my [parent] did that.”
Avoid Making Assumptions
If you have concerns about your teen, be sure to talk to them before making assumptions. Tia recently spoke with a teacher at one of the high schools, who stated she found some inappropriate items in her son’s car.
Upon speaking with her son, she found out that he was considering getting sexually involved with his partner. She and the dad were able to talk to their son about the pressures they also experienced as teens, how they stayed abstinent, and the mistakes they made. This conversation alone strengthened their relationship and gave their child a different outlook on sexual activity and the consequences that can follow.
Difficult Conversations Deepen Relationships
Although it may not be easy to have difficult discussions with your child and admit your faults, don’t forget that you are who you are because of your mistakes and the lessons you’ve learned. Having these conversations will only establish a deeper level of trust between you and your child.
Tiauna Awumah is a Health Educator with North Star Youth Partnership. She has worked with youth in Arizona for almost four years. Tiauna has a master’s in psychology with an emphasis on life coaching from Grand Canyon University.