What Teens Really Need From Parents

How Teens Need Parents

We asked teens across the country, “What do you need from your parents?” The answers received offer a glimpse into what teens really want and need from their parents. Watch the video to hear from teens nationwide, and read on to reveal how parents matter to teens.

Let Us Fail Sometimes

The path to adulthood is long and winding, full of successes and failures. Sometimes teens need the freedom to fail so we can learn from it. The lessons gained are extremely important, because they are our own. They become a part of us that we hold onto for our entire lives.

We need our parents to help us have a wide range of experiences. To let us fail sometimes, but push us to learn from our mistakes. We need them to protect us from the kind of choices that might cause us harm. To encourage us to step out of our comfort zones so that we can have the kind of experiences that will allow us to grow.

Believe in Us, Tell Us You Love Us

Sometimes teens need freedom, but we always need our parents’ support. Especially when we fail, we want to see that you’re there for us. That you support us and still believe in us. That might mean helping us with homework or attending the school play we’re performing in. It also means literally telling us you love us.

However you do it, find a way to support us. To show us that you care. Believe in us. Tell us you love us, but go a step further. Tell us what you see in us that makes you so solidly on our team. We can always recover with your trust and support.

Give Us Independence AND Boundaries

Sometimes teens need freedom, yes, but sometimes we need structure too. There’s still a lot we don’t know yet and being thrown into the unknown with out structure or boundaries can feel overwhelming. Give us “structured freedom.” Guide us. Don’t lead us.

We need our parents to help us have a wide range of experiences. To let us fail sometimes, but push us to learn from our mistakes.

Respect Us, Value Our Thoughts

Successful relationships are built on respect. The relationships between parents and teens are no exception. Respect us. Value our ideas. There is so much more to a human being than test scores. Know that sometimes our interests and passions lie outside of the classroom.

This doesn’t mean we want you to be a friend over being a parent. We still need the authority and structure that parents offer. But don’t disregard our insights and don’t talk down to  us. Rather, respect us as the individuals we’ve become and continue to grow into.

Remind Us to Be Healthy

Part of being an adult is staying healthy. We need our parents to help us identify healthy habits. That can be through healthy eating, getting enough sleep, or managing stress and not overworking ourselves.

Be a Role Model

While our peer relationships are important, we still look to our parents as role models. Especially during the teen years, when we are trying to pin down the person we want to be. The adult we want to become. We need role models now more than ever.

Set a positive example for us. Show us that you’re responsible. Vulnerable. That you aren’t always right and are willing to admit it.

Prepare Us for the Future

Adolescence can be an uncertain time. Many of us don’t know what we want to be, or what we want to do. It might be hard, but we need to learn that for ourselves and through our own mistakes. It makes a world of difference, though, to know that our parents love and respect us. That they are there for us through ups and down. That they are committed to our well-being. Give us that balance of structure and freedom. We need both to go out into the world on our own.

About Sean Welch

Sean Welch is the former Chair of the Youth Advisory Board at CPTC. He is an undergraduate student at Temple University where he studies political science and writes creatively in his free-time.

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