SYF: Remembering Your Teen Years

Can you remember when you were in junior high school? What were you thinking and feeling at that time? What was most important to you? If you remember your teen years, you’re better equipped as a parent to find creative solutions to the daily dilemmas of living with your teenager.

Remembering your teen years doesn’t mean that you compare your memory to your teen’s world today. Those twenty to thirty years have brought a ton of changes. But remembering your teen years can be a good reminder of all the insecurities that teens face and their determination to be independent. 

There are a few pitfalls in remembering your own teen years, as one father told me. He remembers being really wild as a teen:  drinking, vandalizing, and stealing. At first he assumed that since he had done these things, his son would also. But as we talked about this, he soon realized that his son’s circumstances and surroundings are entirely different and he shouldn’t expect this behavior from his son. 

As you remember what you experienced and felt as a teenager, you don’t want to assume that your teenager is doing the same thing or feeling the same way. Your teenager isn’t you and may handle situations quite differently than your memory. Actually, I’ve heard some parents state that their teens are wiser and more competent than they were at the same age. 

Your memory can go a long way towards maintaining an understanding for your teen. What was life like for you as a teen? What do you wish could have been different? What changes would you make? How did you feel about your body when it started to mature? What did you wish your parents would have understood? What was your relationship with your parents? What kind of relationship do you have with your parents now? 

When you think back to your own teen years, you’ll remember how complex and confusing this time was and you’ can be more compassionate towards your teen. When you share with your kids what life was like for you, what self-doubts you had, and acknowledge their thoughts and feelings, they’ll probably be more good natured towards you. Hopefully your teen will feel comfortable enough to share her thoughts and feelings with you. What parents wouldn’t consider that success? 

Additional information is available from Andrea Bressler at awb1@psu.edu; or http://clearfield.extension.psu.edu; and your local office of Penn State Cooperative Extension.  In Clearfield, the office is located in the Multi-Service Center, or by calling 765-7878.  In Brookville, the office is located at 180 Main Street, or by calling 849-7361.  And in Ridgway, the office is located in the Courthouse, or by calling 776-5331.  Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce.

Andrea Bressler, Penn State Cooperative Extension

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