From a distance, it may appear that teenagers value their clothes, social status and wireless gadgets more than anything else in their lives. While these seemingly surface-level desires seem important to teenagers, rest-assured, battle-worn parents -- it turns out that your adolescents appreciate the “big stuff,” like spending time with their parents and relationships with close friends, more than anything else.
Face Time With Parents
Despite their verbal protests that they want to be “left alone,” it turns out that, like children of all ages, teens crave and appreciate face time with their parents. In fact, despite the stereotype that teenagers want to push their parents away as they mature, quite the opposite may be true. For example, researchers at Penn State University found that teenagers actually end up spending more time with their parents as they inch toward graduation, not less, and that teenagers who spend time with their fathers had better social skills and self-esteem than their peers.
Yes, the adolescent years can be turbulent for both parents and their children. However, even when she’s in the throes of her seventh hormone-induced meltdown of the day, your teenager takes comfort in knowing that you are there for her, no matter what. Unconditional love is not only important to your teen, it’s essential to her development and well-being. According to advice from Psychology Today, your “unwavering presence” is the “greatest support she knows.” As such, your teenager requires your emotional support and guidance, especially when it’s difficult and even when you dislike or disapprove of her behavior.
Your teen’s relationship with his friends is also critically important to him. Strong friendships can help your teenager improve his conflict resolution skills, weather rocky transitions and enhance his self-esteem. According to the University of Illinois Extension website, without consistent and loyal friendships, teens can become withdrawn and lonely, and their academic performance can suffer. Therefore, parents should encourage their teens to establish solid relationships with friends that both the parents and teens can trust.
Ever try rousing your overtired high-school student from a deep sleep? Then you know how important sleep is to a teen. Unfortunately, the natural sleep cycle of most adolescents is in direct conflict with high school start times, leading to a population of groggy, moody, sleep-deprived students. According to the website of the National Sleep Foundation, not getting enough sleep can affect a teen’s ability to learn, listen and concentrate. Therefore, when possible, reinforce the importance of sleep to your teen -- even if it means that she has to hand over that smartphone to you before she heads to her room for the night.
As teens edge toward adulthood, they don’t just want more independence -- they need it. Allowing your teen the freedom to make his own decisions is a critical stage of child development and will help him become a healthy, self-sufficient, functioning part of society. As he grows, of course, you’ll need to continue to set boundaries and be there for him emotionally. However, try to limit your advice and, as long as the situation isn’t potentially harmful to his health or safety, allow him the space to make mistakes.
- University of Illinois Extension: Family Works: Friendship Is Important to Teens
- Penn State News: Time with Parents is Important for Teens' Well-Being
- Psychology Today: Giving Unconditional Love Even When It's Not Easy
- National Sleep Foundation: Teens and Sleep
- Aha! Parenting: Staying Connected to Your Teen
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