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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
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
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