Most students feel that adults don't appreciate how much times have changed in recent years that that even the most well intentioned parents have a lot to learn. They welcome the opportunity to write to parents, to offer advice and to get some things off their minds.
_“Too many parents think, ‘My kid gets good grades, doesn’t do drugs, and gets home by curfew so I’m a good parent.’
_"Everybody say 's, Talk to your kids, they’ll listen.'
They should say, 'Listen to your kids, they’re talking.”
"Mom, please read these. Something I wrote is in here."
Dear Mom and Dad,
I wish you knew you don't know how to handle me...
Dear Mom and Dad,
I wish you knew you don't know how to handle me. I'm a really good kid. I get good grades. I work hard. I'm involved in extracurricular activities. I'm class president. I don't drink or party or smoke.
I've been with my boyfriend for a year and a half, and we're not having sex. I make good life choices. And a lot of that comes from you.
The thing is, I can't talk to you guys. You're so set in your ways, your opinions are so small, you gossip and hate people because of the way you were raised, and I can't stand it.
When my boyfriend and I get in fights over things I can't even come to you, because you don't like him and you don't want us to be together, and I'm scared every time I ask you if I can see him. (Which is ridiculous because he's such a good kid. He'll probably be valedictorian. He's one of the only normal people I know who doesn't drink or get high on a weekly basis. He's so respectful, and he's driven and self-motivated and he motivates me too. How can you not want us to be together?) You don't know we spend time alone in his room, or that I want to sleep over there because he treats me like a princess and brushes the hair out of my face and hugs me tight. You don't know his mom is soo okay with me staying over, she invited me to come on vacation with them this summer. You don't know I'll probably end up staying there one night, and you'll never know.
You don't understand how hard I work. That I don't just go to school from 8 to 5, but I do homework until 11. That I'm up once a week until 1:30 working on the newspaper- that I created. That I get burnt out.
I know when daddy comes home from work he's allowed to be exhausted and just want to eat and crawl into bed. I know daddy works really hard but so do I. I work as hard as I possibly can and I'm exhausted.
So I'm sorry if you don't like something I wrote in my paper. I'm sorry if I forgot to read or return the form for my summer class. I'm sorry because I don't care, and you yelling at me about it just makes me dislike you.
I'm a big girl, big enough to learn from my own mistakes. I'm big enough to realize when I've made a mistake. You don't need to remind me, and if you want to make a comment I'm open to hearing it but I've got my life under control. I don't need you to rebuke me. I don't need anyone to rebuke me.
Its annoying and it means you don't have faith in me or how I'm doing. I'm sorry I haven't turned in my forms, but dammit I can hardly keep my head up. I'm exhausted, and that form came in the middle of me studying for APs. Excuse me for it not being a priority, especially because they're so casual about deadlines. Especially because I go to a school where deadlines don't apply. Especially because I'm still a kid, my full-time job is still school, and I've never had to fill out paperwork before.
So let me learn as I go, because it's the only way I will. And just so you know, I'm willing to deal with the consequences of missing that deadline (which is having to pack my own pillow instead of getting one there.) It's no big deal, it's not life or death, so leave me alone.
You thought you struck a chord by telling me to act like an adult, but you just pissed me off. Yeah, I'm becoming an adult, and I'm growing into it. The point is I'm still 17! That's not an adult, not even legally. And I know so many adults who miss deadlines and are FINE. I'm not going to become one of those adults, I'm working on it ON MY OWN, but damn it!
Leave me alone.
I wish you didn't worry so much about your weight...
I wish you didn't worry so much about your weight. You worry about it a lot; your mother made you worry about your appearance to an unhealthy degree when you were growing up and you always have. I used to be unhappy about my appearance, even though I'm not overweight at all. I'm a dancer and I have a very athletic body, but nevertheless, I used to be highly uncomfortable with it. This year I decided to stop worrying. I'm very stubborn and when I set my mind to something, it's hard to dissuade me from my resolution. I know this method won't work for everyone, but I decided to stop worrying about my weight and instead be confident and happy, and I was able to change my mindset just like that. The truth is, I actually have a very beautiful body. I don't believe in judging people by their looks—everyone's true beauty is inside them—but by society's standards, I am a beautiful young woman. I've been so much happier and more comfortable with myself this year; not worrying about the way I look has taken a HUGE weight off my shoulders (no pun intended…).
So many people (particularly women) are unhappy with their appearances. I used to be one of them, but now that I've gotten over that, I want everyone to make the change that I did and stop obsessing over their body images. It took me a long time to start thinking the way I now do, but now that I've changed my outlook, I'm impatient with other people who can't make the switch I have. I'm so much happier now and I want everyone to be able to achieve the contentment and comfort level that I have.
I know that you love your kids more than anything and would never want to be overly critical of me or make me unduly uncomfortable, but you project your body image concerns onto me. You tell me I'm beautiful and I know you mean it, but you also told me that you thought a skirt I was wearing was unflattering. I'm not so much offended as I am concerned about why you said this. Everyone else (I'm not exaggerating) who has seen me wear that skirt thinks I look fantastic in it. I bought it because I thought it looked great on me. But you thought that just because it's short and I'm not as thin as a twig, it was unflattering. Eventually I told you how many compliments I've gotten on it and you accepted what I said and replied, "I stand corrected." I appreciate that; I just wish that you could feel comfortable enough about yourself to open your mind to the possibility that people who aren't sticks can have hot legs too.
After my prom, you commented that you didn't think a girl in my prom group had a very flattering dress. She's a big girl and the dress was fairly short. I thought it looked really good on her and I told you so. I didn't only want to defend her; I genuinely thought it was a wonderful choice of an outfit for her. I felt that it was time for you to start realizing that you were/are overly conscious of your weight, so I said, "I think the dress looked really good on her. The idea that you have to be really skinny to wear short skirts is an idea from your generation. People have different ideas now. Many teenagers now don't think it's a shameful thing to show your legs even if they're a little big." I think you took what I said to heart and I'm very glad about that.
I love you so much and I don't want anyone reading this letter to think that you're an unkind or unloving mother. We're a perfect fit for one another and I love you so much. You just have some insecurities —especially about your appearance—and unfortunately you haven't yet been able to face or overcome them. Well, I guess that's what the future is for. I just want you (and everyone else in the world) to realize that there's not just one type of beautiful.
We ask the impossible. I am 17 years old and I realize this...
We ask the impossible. I am 17 years old and I realize this. You're in a hard place, but so are we. We want parents and adults to be available at all times to listen to us about whatever we feel like talking about. We also want you to leave us alone if we come home exhausted and not in the mood to talk and just wanting to be alone. We want you to give us advice if you have it, but really we want to just be acknowledged, listened to, and comforted, that a solution will come and that we will be capable of carrying it out.
Teenagers realize that part of “growing up” is doing lots of things along the way that later don’t seem quite so wise or praiseworthy. We need parents and adults to listen, to see our actions, and to hear our reasoning. We need you to realize that we’re still learning things as we go along, and, unfortunately, the best way to learn the right way to do things is to do them the wrong way, sometimes more than once. Don’t judge us or make us feel guilty all the time (though we realize sometimes we should feel guilty). We can’t learn anything new if we’re constantly terrified of making a mistake.
So, just listen to us. Don’t scare us off by listening to our worries and running off half-cocked to try to fix them. Sometimes we don’t even want action, we just want to be able to rant. As much as we contradict ourselves and switch rapidly between wanting parents to baby us and protect us - and pushing them out of our lives, in the end we just want a safety net, someone to back us up. We want to feel that someone who wants the best for us is there and willing to just sit and listen.
“Times have changed. Some adults pay very little attention to how things have changed..."
Times have changed. Some adults pay very little attention to how things have changed in the not so ‘kiddie’ childhood of today.
Parents can help if they just think back to their own childhoods and think about how much the world has changed since then.
I don’t think they even had school shootings then.
“Take an interest in all of my life, not only be so worried about my school work..."
Take an interest in all of my life, not only be so worried about my school work. It seems like that is all you care about.
Pay attention to what is happening to me NOW, more than what I will be in the future.
Don’t keep telling me to stop wasting time. I want to stop to smell the roses and live for the moment, not for some imaginary future ideal that can never be reached.
With every tragedy people ask themselves how it could have been avoided...
With every tragedy people ask themselves how it could have been avoided, and how do we prevent it from happening again. Guest author, Monette Park, MSW, Columbine High School social worker writes, “Sadly, although the Columbine shootings happened in 1999, recent events make the lessons we learned current. After the school shootings that devastated our community, I witnessed the intensification of every possible dynamic between teenagers and parents. We all demonstrated altered, exaggerated behavior, which served to magnify the issues many teens go through in more normal times.
It is important for parents to understand and be comfortable with the dynamics of the teenage years. Beyond that, parents need to use their common sense and provide the safest possible environment for their teens. During this period, teens use a great deal of cognitive energy to bring some sense of control to their lives. They are experiencing new thoughts, feelings, and pressures. There are the stressors of pleasing others and meeting expectations. And all teens go through a normal process of separation and individuation. After “Columbine” this was all magnified. Parents coped with the tragedy by trying to exert more control over their children—a move that met with increased resistance from their kids. The students felt that no one who wasn’t right there could really understand what they were feeling, and they were disinclined to talk to their parents. It is common to feel as if you are hanging on by a thread, and any perceived criticism can start to unravel that thread. In the days and months following the attack at our school, there was a high level of restlessness and it was almost impossible to concentrate. We felt the full weight of sadness. We suffered the fear of loss over and over and over again. We realized that our lives had changed forever.
With every tragedy people ask themselves how it could have been avoided, and how do we prevent it from happening again. For parents of this current generation, here are some ideas that may help:
Teach your children to inform adults about their concerns. It can save lives. Remind them that parents are extremely concerned about the prevention of violence everywhere, particularly in the schools, and rightly so.
Teach your children never to promise their best friend that they won’t tell anybody if they talk about harming themselves or others, even if the friend threatens to hate your child forever. Tell your teenagers that they would hate themselves even more if something happened. It’s not worth it.
Teach your children that they are expected to respect you by letting you know where they are. They need to respect your reasonable fears of events like Columbine (and too many other schools!) where parents did not know where their kids were, sometimes for several hours.
Keep a regular routine. Help get daily activities done by posting notes to your kids. Be as lighthearted as possible, because almost anything you say will be taken as criticism.
Do your best to maintain a sense of family humor. An ability to have fun together and to be appropriately playful is important.
Let them know you trust them. Be aware that almost any parent might fall back on the familiar habit of disciplining the way they were handled–good or bad, gentle or aggressive. The known ways may feel easier and lead you to feel more in control. But as your children grow into maturity, try to relax some standards. Be reasonable. Are there some areas in which you could relax and still feel safe?
The most important thing parents can do is to know your children. Talk with and listen to them. Keep the lines of communication open. Let your children know that you are aware that adolescence is often a dramatic, secretive, and challenging time for teens. Recognize and accept the fact that they will not always talk to you. It is normal for kids this age to talk more with peers than with adults, but when they do talk to you, listen and give them your full attention.”