Teens love to talk: they love to talk online, on the phone, at school, after-school, at the mall, in the car, behind their friends back…what on earth are they talking about? Why does sudden lock-jaw occur when parents are within a five foot radius?
Many adults feel that in the age of the Internet and screen obsessed kids, they must be worrying about completely different issues than previous generations. I decided to research what the five most popular topics on Teen Hotlines were by teen and tween callers.
Teens frequently want to talk to other teens about relationships with parents, siblings, friends and teachers. This is a broad topic I know, but interactions, building relationships and friendships are extremely important to teenagers. This is why when teens and tweens get in a fight with friends or a significant other, they have trouble focusing in school or on any other projects.
This includes sexual, physical, verbal and neglect as types of abuse. Many teens call in for ‘friends’ or people they know who are being abused to talk about what abuse actually means. Frequently, teens want to know where is the line between parents who are yelling and verbal abuse? What are the laws on spanking children? I always recommend for parents to talk to their kids about the different kinds of abuse they might be experiencing in their own relationships or with friends.
Despite the attempts of many school health classes, teens have lots of questions about pregnancy, condoms, abstinence and oral sex. Please have the talk with your kids…multiple times. I have found that most teens prefer to have different talks at the varying ages, appropriate to their stage and development.
4) Drugs and Alcohol
Issues with addiction and parties come up for teens when they know of friends who might be dealing or using drugs. The party scene is an issue of great concern for many teens because there is a lot of pressure to fit in.
Unfortunately, a great number of teens think, worry about or know someone who is considering suicide. Many times teens feel isolated and alone and need someone to talk to, but do not know where to turn when they might get in trouble or have to divulge secrets they are not ready to tell.
Surprisingly, there is usually an equal number of male and female callers. All kinds of teens today are dealing with these issues, not just girls, not just poor kids, not just rich kids, not just kids in private school…everyone is dealing with these important, and sometimes very serious issues.
For parents, maybe you are wondering—why doesn’t your teen talk to you about these issues? Teens feel uncomfortable talking to adults because they feel they will not understand what is going on for them today, they are afraid they will get in trouble and worry that they will be judged.
Therefore, it is important for adults to be aware that even though teens might not act like drugs or sex is a big deal to them, they do actually worry about these issues.
If parents keep an open mind, leave judgment at the door and insist on keeping communication lines open, teens may open up about some of their concerns and worries.
Vanessa Van Petten is the author of the book “You’re Grounded!” Her parenting tips as a family peacemaker have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fox 5 New York, and CBS http://www.OnTeensToday.com
Please check out her site: OnTeensToday.com and email your questions for future columns to firstname.lastname@example.org.