Adolescent Advice to the Kid

As you go through this period in your life, I understand that there are several things that become more important to you than they used to be… your freedom and your social life (i.e. having fun).

If you want to have fun during the next few years there is one thing I really think you should focus on: keeping your parents trust.  Trust is the key to a fun and happy adolescence!  Trust me, I’ve talked to a lot of kids your age and their parents…I’ve seen it go well and I’ve seen it NOT go well.  Believe me, life will stink if your parents don’t trust you.  So DON’T LIE TO THEM! Don’t blow your parents trust in you.  Trust is easily and quickly lost and very hard to regain.

Having said that, this does not mean you have to be perfect.  No one is expecting perfection but if you mess up – fess up.  In other words it is a lot better for your parents to hear that you messed up from you rather than from someone else.  If you make a mistake and you don’t tell them (and they find out, which they often do) you lose their trust.  If you make a mistake and you do tell them, you keep their trust.

The more you show your parents you are trustworthy, mature and responsible the more freedom (read FUN) you will have.  That means being responsible about your commitments to them and others, being respectful to them and others and again, not lying to them.  Let’s say you feel your parents are too restrictive.  If you are tempted to lie to them, in order to get more freedom, try sitting down with them and presenting your argument in a reasonable and mature way instead.  If you can give them reasonable arguments (but don’t argue with them) and present it in a way that is not angry, disrespectful or hot headed, you are likely to succeed.  If you lie to them and get caught, things will go in the opposite direction than you want…i.e. less freedom, less fun.

Remember that your parents want what you want.  They want you to become a mature and responsible adult too.  But they are worried about safety issues.  They worry something will happen to you.  They worry because there is a lot to worry about out there and they were teenagers once too.  The problem is your parents remember being teenagers and remember that they didn’t always make the best choices or have the best judgment when they were teenagers.  (This is one of those things you only really see once you have become an adult.  Kids sometimes think adults don’t “get it” and I am sure they are right in many respects. But adults know that even if they were good kids, there is a difference in their judgment as a teenager/young adult and their judgment as they get older.) This scares them.  The best thing you can do is show them that you can make good choices.  When you are out doing what teenagers do, ask yourself, “What is the best choice I can make right now?”  You might even want to imagine yourself describing your choice to your parents.  Obviously the biggest issue here is making choices that could change your life.  Getting into a car with someone who is drinking could change your life (or even end it).  Getting arrested, trusting someone you don’t know, using dangerous drugs, or being somewhere maybe you shouldn’t be, not taking school seriously (which can limit your choices and change your life in this way)—these are all kind of obvious, they have the potential for life changing things happening to you.  Other issues may not be so obvious, but if you always try to make the best choice possible, you will earn the trust and respect of your parents and friends.

Adolescence is your chance to practice being an adult without having to worry about major consequences if you don’t always do everything right.  If you wait until you are 18 or on your own to learn how to clean, cook, pay bills, work, balance a checkbook, keep good credit, get and pay for insurance, budget etc.  YOU WILL BE TOTALLY OVERWHELMED.  And you will likely mess something up…and your parents are going to have much less of a sense of humor about bailing you out then.  So take advantage of the opportunity you have to practice while your parents are close by to help you if you need it.

And remember what is the key to your happiness in adolescence?  Keeping your parents TRUST!

If you and your parents come to an impasse, I am happy to sit down with all of you and see if we can get past it.  Believe it or not, I have helped some kids your age to get more freedom and less restrictions that way.  Coming to family meetings doesn’t mean just the parents get their way.  I try to see things from both perspectives and come up with something reasonable that everyone can live with.  Good luck!

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