Inside the Teen World
First, let me explain that I love this age. Teens are full of hope and ideals. Yes, to some adults they seem annoying as they always think they’re right and they argue a lot with adults. I see this stage as exciting. Teens are putting together their experiences and learning how to make decisions. They are our future. As such, we must provide guidance and positive role modeling, even if a teen is annoying or defiant. I choose to see this challenge as fun. Once a teen decides to trust you enough and believes that you are trying to understand them, they can begin to see you as a safe adult who will listen, guide, and reserve judgment. Teens are such a dichotomy of pushing adults away and seeking approval. Chances are a teen wants their parents’ approval but doesn’t want to hear their advice. We know that teens will take advice from another teen that may be the same advice a parent gives that is ignored. Through the decades of working with teens I have learned how to listen and support without judgment. I want to provide myself as a safe adult who won’t give them consequences for their actions but can offer guidance. I am forever grateful to the adults in my life who helped me. Because of the guidance I sought and received outside of my family, I enjoy giving that same support back to teens today. There are many things that are different today than when I was a teen but the concept is the same. Teens face bullying (cyber and face to face), social competition to belong to the right group, body image, wearing the right clothes, decisions about sex, drugs, and alcohol, drama, vulgar language, rumors, broken families, abuse, neglect, and suicide attempts. None of this is new; however todays electronic capabilities have created quicker spread of rumors, drama, and social isolation. Parents will always be an embarrassment to their teens. We are the ones to be seen but not heard (and pretending we don’t exist is preferred). Parents have to have thick skins not to take this treatment personally. Our teens often create the perfect storm of pushing us away and making us so angry we don’t want to help them. Accessing an adult counselor who can fill in that gap helps fill that void that is created from the parent-teen alienation. I am an expert at being that neutral adult.