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Myths About Teens

As we all know, parenting a teen can be both a joy and a struggle. In my 20-plus years of working with teens and through raising one of those surly but lovely creatures myself, I've learned a little bit about teen mythology—the difference between those things you think you know about teens and what's actually going on with them.

Myth #1: Teens don't care about what their parents think of them.

Truth: Teens care very deeply about what their parents think of them but it would be so very not teenage and not cool to let parents know this.

RELATED: Teen Problem Behavior

Myth #2: Teens do not want to talk to their parents.

Truth: The fact is that teens do want to talk to their parents—just in their own teenage way, and when the timing is good. A few tips: Teens are more likely to open up to parents and stay engaged in conversation if parents keep their cool. Teens shut down when parents get too emotional. Teens also prefer indirect over direct questions. A question like "How was the movie?" goes over better than "How did your date treat you?" or "Did that boy drive like a maniac?" Teens also often need decompression or "chill" time before talking.

Myth #3: Teens don't want their parents around.

Truth: In fact, teens do want their parents around and available. They just don't want you to hover or to say that you're available when you are really not—say, when you are clearly focused on something else, like the computer.

Myth #4: Teens don't care if they disappoint their parents. It's all about them.

Truth: Teens care very deeply about disappointing their parents. In fact, they tell me that they can tolerate their parents' anger more easily than their disappointment. That's certainly something to think about.

RELATED: Creating Teen Independence and Identity

Myth #5: Your teen doesn't respect you the same way you respected your parents.

Truth: Are you kidding? I've spoken to many grandparents and they think that you are getting a taste of your own medicine.

Myth #6: Your kids have it easy compared to when you were a teen.

Truth: Things were certainly different but not necessarily easier. All teens struggle.

Myth: #7: It's easier to raise teenage boys than teenage girls.

Truth: Teenage boys have their own set of issues. To think that they don't have struggles would be remiss. If you find boys easier, then perhaps you are not getting to know them.

Myth #8: Your teen would be fine if it weren't for the friends.

Truth: Consider that the reverse may be true—the friends might be getting negatively influenced by your teen. Keep in mind that teens choose each other and no teen is either all good or all bad.

RELATED: 10 Must-Reads for Parents of Teens

Myth #9: Your teen is nothing like you or his father.

Truth: I suggest looking a little closer and more carefully at your own behavior. After all, you are your teen's most influential role model.

Myth #10: Teens don't know that you are having marital problems. You argue privately.

Truth: You're kidding, right? They probably knew before you did. They are very perceptive.

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