10 Things Teens Wish Their Parents Knew

You want to be the best parent you can be — you read the parenting books, spend time with your child and try to stay up to date on the latest teen trends. But are you really listening to your teen? Here are a few things they may want you to know:

1. Times have changed.

You may think you know what it’s like to be a teenager — after all, you once were one. But times have changed, and a new breed of pressures and dangers are facing your teen. Sex happens younger; binge drinking can start as early as middle school; gambling is available to anyone on the Internet; and alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs are hardly considered dangerous anymore (even though they are actually more dangerous than ever).

You may know what it’s like to be a teenager — but your child knows what it’s like to be a teenager today. Rather than making assumptions, talk to your teen about what’s happening at school and in their relationships. Not only can you learn a few things from your teens, but they can make you a stronger, more compassionate person if you let them.

2. Teens need help managing the stresses and pressures in their lives.

Adolescents don’t instinctively know how to grow into healthy adults. They are accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle and are in a rush to grow up. In order to actually grow up instead of just acting grown up, teens need guidance from their parents. Whether that guidance comes in the form of family game nights, nightly discussions around the dinner table or weekend activities, teens with caring, involved parents are well equipped to grow into happy, productive adults.

Shocking as it may be, sometimes adolescents want you to say no. By setting and enforcing rules, parents give teens predictability and structure, as well as a way to combat peer pressure. Left to their own devices, teens often do whatever it takes to be accepted by other teens, including falling in with the wrong crowd, getting in trouble with the law and failing in school. Without your caring oversight, teens are left feeling isolated and alone.

Read eight more things teens wished their parents knew >>

How to Protect Your Teens From Cyberbullies

In this digital age, bullying is no longer relegated to the schoolyard. Bullies can now attack in the place kids should feel the safest — their homes.

Instead of physically harming or verbally attacking their victims, cyberbullies use the Internet, cell phones and other technology to hurt, threaten and embarrass others. Because it is done online, the effect of cyberbullying is more far-reaching and enduring than bullying that occurs at school.

Cyberbullies can victimize their targets in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Creating websites that make fun of or criticize another person
  • Sending mean or threatening emails, instant messages or text messages
  • Pretending to be someone else to trick their victim into revealing personal information
  • Lying about their victim online
  • Breaking into their victim’s email or instant messages
  • Posting unflattering or offensive pictures online, without permission
  • Using websites to rate their peers

In most instances, the victims of cyberbullying know their attackers. They are often classmates, friends or online acquaintances. One study showed that only 23 percent of victims were bullied by someone they didn’t know.

Learn about ways to protect your child from online bullies >>

Are Youth Sports Doing More Harm Than Good?

About 30 million children and teens participate in organized sports in the U.S. At younger ages than ever before, kids are starting sports and quickly ramping up to a level that’s often so demanding, it’s not sustainable for kids or their parents.

Youth sports are a major commitment of time and money. When parents and teens spend all of their leisure time focused on some aspect of the sport (practice, games or fundraisers), they don’t have much time for other leisure activities. Couple that investment of time and money with visions of athletic scholarships, and it’s no surprise that sports have become a source of stress for our nation’s youth.

We lose sight of the physical and mental stress that playing sports can impose on a child. Teens who never have "down time" can miss out on the opportunity to just be a kid.

Of course, are myriad great reasons to participate in sports. Read about the pros and cons of organized sports for kids >>