Written by Cooper Moss, Intern and Yorktown High School Senior
Honest Advice to parents from a 17 year old:
Before you disregard the rest of this post, let me explain.
The 2015 Arlington Developmental Assets Youth Survey found that roughly 70% of children in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades feel loved and well supported by their parents, but only 29% feel like they can confide in their parents.
Why is that?
I used my experience to deduce a reason for this massive disconnect. The first being a fear of delayed, indirect consequences. To explain, let me give you a personal example.
I was 14 and about to be a freshman in high school. I had just gotten invited to my first “real high school party” and it took some convincing for my parents to let me go. The first thing I saw when I got to the party was a table set up for beer pong. I had a fine time at the party and had nothing but water to drink.
When my mom came and picked me up at 11:00 pm, she asked me if there was any drinking going on. I explained to her that there was beer pong, but I didn’t participate.
She wasn’t mad at me, and I didn’t get in trouble.
But when the Homecoming after party was at the same Host’s house, It was a flat out “No” from both my parents.
After that experience I was far more hesitant to share with my parents. Even though I was not in trouble, if I had not shared that information with them I would have been able to go to that after party.
My parents were in quite a tough spot.
They couldn’t condone me going to a party where alcohol was served; they want me to stay safe. On the other side of the coin, by not letting me go, I associated my honesty with the outcome.
At the time, I felt like I had 2 options. I could lie and purposefully keep my parents in the dark so they would let me go. Or, I could be honest with them and negotiate terms of me going out.
I chose the latter.
At the end of the day, I know that my parents just want to keep me safe. Even though they don’t like the idea of me being at a party, they would rather have me be honest with them than lie and go behind their back. They set reasonable restrictions and consequences, but left the choice to follow them up to me.
I cannot tell you how much stronger our relationship has become after they implemented that mentality. It makes me feel like my parents trust me to make the right choice, and that I can get honest advice from them without worrying about the repercussions it will have on my social life.
The take away from all this: Listen to what your kids have to say. Make whatever they are telling you valid in all emotional facets. When you are setting the rules, try to remember when you were their age. Ask them questions like “Do you think this is fair?” or “What do you think I should do?” Value their opinions, and most importantly, make sure they know how much you love them.
Here are a few tips or strategies to help us be better able to listen