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Teen Health 411

The Ideal Relationship With A Parent

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As a parent, sometimes it is hard to know how our teens perceive us. We all want to be there for our children and have a great relationship with each of them, but sometimes they might not perceive our actions the same way we intend them to, so here is what a group of teens have to say about the perfect relationship with a parent. Just food for thought.

The perfect parent would ...

  • Male, age 18: Listen. Everything else hinges upon listening.
  • Female, age 17: Be open to talk and understand me.
  • Male, age 17: Talk, express what they want and show affection, not think affection is understood, or a given.
  • Female, age 15: Respect “space,” use things [errors] as a teaching moment not punishment.
  • Unknown, age 17: Keep their problems to themselves; know they can trust me; give me encouragement.
  • Female, age 16: Support my own interests and goals for the future rather than just what they [parents] want me to do.
  • Female, age 22: Try to help me find myself and give me enough freedom while also enough care
  • Female, age 21: Understand when I need someone to talk to who is more understanding than judgmental.
  • Female, age 14: Be more understanding and pay more attention.
  • Female, age 18: Be able to discuss awkward subjects that we [teens] can’t talk about with others.
  • Female, age 14: Respect my space when I’m having a bad day; and be as understanding as possible.
The perfect parent would not ...
  • Female, age 17: Be a helicopter parent.
  • Unknown, age 17: Mope around.
  • Male, age 17: Read my email; expect an equal exchange of favors; treat me like a friend, confidant, or source of support.
  • Unknown, age 17: Snoop around in my room; bring their problems into my life.
  • Female, age 17: Be evasive.
  • Female, age 22: Expect me to become them.
  • Female, age 21: Try to make my future something I do not want it to be.
  • Female, age 15: Be over-protective.
  • Female, age 14: Overreact at the slightest thing.
  • Female, age 18: Prevent themselves from trying to understand the changed cultural/time since when they were young.
  • Female, age 14: Over pressure me during the year and try to push my abilities to the point where I cannot comply anymore.
  • Female, age 16: Feel as if they have to monitor my activities in order for me to succeed.
  • Female, age 18: Ignore me
In the perfect world my parent and I would ...
  • Male, age 17: Have an open relationship so we could talk about it when something is wrong, express our feelings, talk about our relationship, and together, fix anything that is wrong.
  • Unknown, age 17: Laugh together and bond, do fun activities, go shopping.
  • Female, age 22: Find a balance between friend and authority.
  • Female, age 21: Let me make mistakes, but be there when I need a parent.
  • Female, age 15: Let me make mistakes; enjoy each others company.
  • Male, age 18: Be able to enjoy each others company, but parent would know when to leave me alone.
  • Female, age 17: Talk openly.
  • Male, age 18: Simply talk.
Photo credit: erin MC hammer

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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