Ever feel like no matter what you say, or how you say it, your parents never
really listen to you? Maybe they treat you like a child. Or, perhaps they act
like they're listening and even look you in the eyes, but really don't
"hear" anything you say. And if they do hear you, they always disagree,
right? Sometimes you feel like you just can't talk to your parents.
It's OK! You are normal. During the teen years, the connections and
interactions with parents often become strained. As you become more
independent, it's normal to develop and discuss your own ideas and
theories about life -- even if you don't fully believe everything you're saying
at the time.
Erin Oliveri started to realize she was a lesbian when she was about 13. “We’d be playing kissing games at parties and I didn’t want to kiss any of the guys,” she says.
For the next few years, she struggled with figuring out her sexual identity. Growing up on Staten Island -- a short ferry ride away from Manhattan but light years apart in terms of attitudes toward homosexuality -- she went to a small, Catholic, all-girls’ high school where everyone knew everyone. “It wasn’t the most welcoming environment...
Still, when teens talk, parents often feel threatened. Sometimes they have a
hard time letting their kids go. They may long for the days when you were young
and dependent on them, and didn't question their ideas. Sure, it's
exasperating, but you can get through it.
Parents Are Human, Too
In an ideal situation, a home is a "testing ground" -- a safe place
where teens can voice their ideas and opinions, hear how they sound, and
parents can objectively discuss these thoughts with them. This helps you
fine-tune what you really believe. You get to lean on the wisdom that moms and
dads can give from their years of living on the planet Earth.
But, wait. Who said life is ideal? Your parents are only human --
just like you! They will slip up, say things they don't mean, be critical, and
have confusing emotions, just like you. Parents may also be offended when their
views are challenged, especially if you catch them at a bad time (like when
they are exhausted). Sure, you can feel upset with them. But keep in mind that
they are your parents. They are there for you in good times and bad.
Adolescence is a period of great change for teens. But moms and dads also
undergo major adjustments as they "cut the apron strings" and
allow you to become independent. While you need your parents to listen to your
new ideas on life, parents also have needs. They need to feel confident that
you can be trusted, and will be safe without their constant guidance.