The teen years are widely known as the years that many parents dread. After all, teens are moody. Teens are withdrawn. Teens are annoyed at the way we just can’t quite seem to get what they’re going through. Not to mention the disconnect between the way we do vaguely remember how we acted to our parents as teenagers, without fully being able to access the memory of how all that social pressure and academic stress mixed with surging hormones made us feel.
It’s been decades since we were teenagers ourselves and it’s too easy to look back on those years through the lens of adult perspective. But one thing we may have forgotten is that teenagers want to be understood. Which is why this thread on Reddit—which started with user u/TheEpicRock3099’s question, “Parents of Reddit, what do you not understand about us teenagers?”—is the best, most earnest thing I’ve read lately. It’s also pretty damn enlightening.
I’m going to highlight a few of my favourite questions and answers and then you should go over to Reddit and read a bunch more.
Why act “cool” around your parents?
Question from u/DDodgeSilver:
I get the need to be “cool,” I was a teenager once, too. But, why carry on with the act when it’s just you and your parents? I did it, too… I just don’t know why.
Edit: I ask because, now in my 40s, I can spend time with my dad and he can be himself and I can be myself and nobody is trying to be “cool.” It could have always been like that, but I was too busy trying to impress my parents with my deep spiritual connection to Cypress Hill.
Answer from u/Landeg:
Sincerity is vulnerable and teens already feel plenty vulnerable.
Also, if you drop the act around your parents, you are acknowledging that it’s an act. Some kids are ok with that because they’re aware of social masking and code switching, consciously or otherwise. Other kids, especially kids who might be struggling socially or are trying to “discover” themselves, would resist the idea that their more popular, more well-liked self is just an “act” and feel pressured to keep it up 24/7, because they assume all the other “cool” kids are naturally like that, too.
If kids are still trying to maintain an aloof/“cool” act around people like their parents then it might be a sign they lack confidence in their social skills and/or have social anxiety.
Also depending on their age, kids are trying on personalities like trying on pants. I remember cycling through some forced personality traits trying to “discover” myself as a tween. Their parents might seem like a “safe” target to crash-test their new, edgy personality on, even if it sucks for the parents.
Answer from u/homesickalienz:
Because when you are cool around your friends you feel great. People comment on your outfits or perceived popularity. And you want your parents to feel the same way about you as your friends do.
Why won’t you shower?
Question from u/silverspork:
Why do I have to pester you about showering more than once a week? Do you want to be the stinky kid? This is how you get to be the stinky kid.
Answer from u/italyphoenix:
(As a current teen, and this can maybe only speak for myself but a few of my friends have shared the same sentiment) Usually when I don’t shower/bathe for large periods of time it has to do with my mental health. If I’m just emotionally and mentally drained then showering is low on my list just because it either seems like simply too much work or it just completely skips my mind. Maybe talk to your kid and make sure they aren’t taking on too much of a load?
(I also say this as a girl so if it’s a boy maybe that’s just him being a boy and he doesn’t quite realise that his body has changed to create a stink and just doesn’t know it?)
Answer from u/AIDANboi321:
We’d love to shower, we’ll just do it tomorrow.
What are the biggest pressures on you?
Question from u/RoveCove:
Growing up in the 80’s drugs were around, and I thought my kids wouldn’t be able to get away with anything because I know what was out there. Then over the decades the party drugs changes, and now I have no idea what my kids are up against. What are they up against?
What are the social pressures for today’s kids?
Answer from u/_BippityBoppity_:
As a 16 y/o I’ll try and answer this as best as possible for you:
Types of drugs/random crap I’ve heard of are JUULs (e-cigarette), crack (cocaine), LSD, beer, heroin, and weed (marijuana). I’m obviously going to miss out on many other things but I don’t get involved in these things so I wouldn’t know.
Social Pressures: Popularity, looks, grades, reputation with teachers and parents, and social media -> Don’t limit their social media use, HOWEVER if it affects their mental health then step in and do something to help about it, since they either won’t realise or are afraid of asking for help
Answer from u/Acceptable_AITA:
Believe it or not, it’s actually pressure about sex, some drugs, and sometimes just doing stupid shit on the net.
Answer from u/essentially_infamous:
Question from u/I_Heart_Squids:
How does one yeet?
Answer from u/Jakepopss:
Yeet refers to when one discards an object at a high velocity, basically you throw something and if you yell “yeet” it goes further.
Kobe for accuracy, Yeet for distance.
Why do you shut me out?
Question from u/grezzymechh:
I am listening, I am here for you, and the advice I give is from walking the same path you’re on now. I just need a bit of help on the details. Don’t shut me out.
Answer from u/NatashaJaniphil:
About shutting you out…
So when I tell you about my problems, I realise what you’re going through is much harder and on a different level. Then I feel my problems are stupid. Show us that it’s not stupid, it’s fine, by telling us about your imperfect childhood/life.
About when I don’t shut you out… (Sorry, this section is longer than the above. I guess my problem is what happens after sharing.)
Also, what works for you does not work for me. For example, my mother was very social and I am not. I am extremely shy. Thus, the way she can approach people and sort things out between friends won’t work for me. But now I realise you can give me advice that works for me, too.
Sometimes, I just want you to listen, don’t judge, don’t give advice. I know how to handle it. I just want to vent.
In retrospect I think it’s very hard for you guys to see when you need to give advice or not, but I guess all of us are learning. Teenagers and parents.
Answer from u/ZeeDrakon:
A lot of the frustration comes from parents thinking they walked the same path, when they didn’t.
The differences in experience that I had compared to my siblings who are 6 & 8 years younger than me are so big that I wouldn’t presume to know what they’re going through, and that difference is only larger for parents, yet parents tend to presume they know not only our experiences but also the best solutions.
Why do you keep smacking the doorframes?
Question from u/just_be_respectful:
I’m a teacher, and the one question I always have is why tf do you feel the need to hit every single doorframe you pass by?
Answer from u/Oroshi3965:
We’re taller now and it’s something slightly fun we can do with ease.