As parents, we all want our children to know we love and support them, but as they enter into those teenage years, our parental roles must change and adapt as well. It's easy to be confused and unsure what our teens want or need from us. We still want to cuddle them like babies, yet they seem to be pushing us away in search of their independence. As small children they looked at us in awe, filled with unconditional love and longing. It was a truly wonderful and satisfying feeling as a parent. But now as they move into the adolescenct years, we start to feel quite the opposite. Instead, we are often greeted with blank stares, confusion, and at times even defiance. That look of awe in their eyes has now been replaced by the all too familiar eye rolling. But as much as teenagers try to push their parents away, there is still a basic innate need for their parents’ love, support and attention.
Don’t let the negative attitude and the lack of awe in their eyes fool you. They’ve just locked that awe away in their hearts for now. Hopefully, some day down the road, they will be much more communicative and appreciative of your parenting efforts and dedication. Personally, as a high school teacher, I have found that a huge majority of students have a deep respect for their parents and what they do for them. But I have also learned a little about what adolescents still truly want or need from their parents but are essentially just too afraid to ask.
Teenagers want to be viewed as adults and they think to be an adult means they need to be tough. But just like most people of any age, they still desire their parents’ attention and approval. Only now they have to appear "tough" and make it seem like they don't need or want it. This could be due to a sense of peer pressure or frustration towards the increased expectations and responsibilities that come with adolescence.
Unfortunately, I have read too many essays or poems where a student just wants their parent to come watch them in the school play or attend their game just once, just to see them excel in something they love. Whether you like the activity or not, you being there at their event means the absolute world to them. Even though it may seem like they are shutting you out, they really want you there. They want you cheering them on in their activities, beaming at their report card and proud of their successes. So it is still so vitally important to take that extra time and ask them about their day and their life in general. After all, all they really want is our approval and acceptance. Even if they seem like they don't care or are embarrassed, just remember they’re acting tough, but deep down they are thrilled that you were there or listened to their latest achievement with full parental pride. They still need and want you, and even if they don’t say thank you now- they will one day thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. So support them, be their #1 cheerleader and their most ardent fan.