A few months ago, my husband and I headed out of town to attend my high school reunion. We took our two youngest daughters with us, but we left our thirteen year old behind with my in-laws because he had a big soccer game that Saturday. I sent her a text Friday night to see if she had a good day at school and I ended with “I love you!” In her text reply, she said “I love you too! Have fun at your reunion!” Not a big deal, right? Except it is.
Upon reading that text, I realized that it had been a good while since I had heard her say “I love you.” Having just begun her journey into the teen years, she is awash with emotions, but she keeps most of them inside and is, like most normal teens, far too mature and “cool” for that kind of affection. It was nice to “hear” it once again.
The truth is, there are probably a lot of things on her mind that she is not saying out loud for a variety of reasons. Admittedly, my daughter has always been fairly stoic and aloof. However, she has become more that way in recent months. (Thanks a lot teenage hormones and bad attitudes!).
I thought back to when I was a teenager and did a little research about what it’s like to be a teen today, because, let’s face it, it’s been a while since I was there and a lot has changed. Based on what I remember, what I read, and what I have witnessed, I came up with a list of some pretty significant things a lot of teens are probably thinking, but, most likely, won’t say out loud.
- I want to spend time with you. I think, deep down, teens still enjoy spending time with their parents and siblings. After all, they have known us all their lives, right? However, in these awkward, confusing years hanging out with the family simply isn’t a popular thing to do. It also has something to do with the next thing on the list . . . . .
- I want to talk to you, but I don’t know how. There’s a lot going on in the lives of today’s teenagers. School, friends, dating, and the list goes on. They want our guidance and advice, but often they don’t come to us because they are embarrassed, afraid they will disappoint us, or scared of being judged.
- I want you to be proud of me. Remember when they were toddlers constantly saying, “Look, Mommy!” and we would clap with adoration at the smallest little things they did? Like when you did some ridiculous song and dance just because she went pee-pee in the potty? At almost 40, I still worry what my parents think of me and hope every day that they are proud of the woman I have become. Why would teens be any different from those toddlers seeking praise or the adult trying to live up to expectations? Teens may try to appear too callous and cool to need our accolades and approval, but deep down they want our praise and approval.
- I know more about sex, drugs, and rock and roll than you think I do. As a parent, this one is hard for me to swallow, but I also don’t want to be naïve. When I had “The Talk” with my oldest daughter, I asked her “Do you know what sex is?” She replied, “Yeah. My friends talk about it all the time.” She was in the FIFTH GRADE!!!!! Let that sink in for just a minute folks – fifth grade. When I asked what exactly her friends were saying about it, she got embarrassed and clammed up, but if they were talking about it then at age 11, I can only imagine what they are talking about age 13, 16, and beyond. They are surrounded by images of sex and party-going celebrities on the news and in social media, but who wants to have a serious conversation with their parents about sex and drugs? Awkward!
- I don’t know/I need help. They won’t say this out loud, because A) They think they DO know or B) They don’t want you to know that there is something they don’t know. As teens, they are learning to assert their independence and figuring out just exactly what that means. They don’t want adults to view them as unintelligent or incapable, so they don’t’ always ask for help even when they need it.
- I can’t control it! Once in a while (ok – once a month), I get crazy hormonal myself. I cry for no reason or I am unexplainably irritable, getting angry about the most insignificant things. I have even said to my husband, “I’m so grumpy I’m getting on my own nerves!” It lasts for a day or two and then I’m back to normal. Teens, especially young teens, are experiencing physical sensations they have never had before. Their hormones are raging and and their physiques are changing. They are often not in control of their own bodies and emotions. The way I feel a couple days a month is the way they feel ALL. THE. TIME. It has to be exhausting and frustrating, but it’s so confusing and overwhelming, they don’t even know how to voice it.
- Hug me! There is nothing more heinously embarrassing to a teen than being hugged and/or kissed by their parents, right? That doesn’t, however, mean they don’t’ need affection from time to time. Most mornings, as my sleepy, grumpy teen stumbles into the kitchen, I step into her path and wrap my arms around her. She usually does not return my embrace, but she also does not resist and, more often than not, I can feel her rest her head on my shoulder just the way she did when she was small. I, myself, am not a “touchy-feely” kind of gal, but I still need a hug once in a while. Teens are not any different – whether they admit it or not!
- I love you! – Similar to the hugs, they probably won’t say it out loud very often, but they still feel it. If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll text it to you on occasion.
Nobody wants to talk to their parents about sex, right?? ~8 Things Your Teen Is Thinking But Won't Say Out Loud~ @TheGoldenSpoons