The teenage girl came out of her room and walked into the family room where her parents were sitting. With a great deal of excitement and joy, she began to talk about a party a classmate was planning for the weekend and how much fun it was going to be. She talked about which of her friends were going and what they had all talked about wearing.
This teenager’s parents gave her their full attention in listening to what she had to say and even acknowledged her excitement by agreeing that it sounds like a fun event. When the girl asked if she could go, they had a few questions for her; such as where it was going to be held, what time would start and end, and who would be there. When they got to the questions will there be adult chaperones and we’d like to meet the parents who will be there, the happy mood in the teenager dissolved and anger erupted.
Their daughter immediately got defensive and shouted, you don’t trust me and you think that all teenagers do bad things! Forget it; I don’t want to go to the stupid party anymore. She burst out in tears and ran to her room. The loud slammed door indicated the talk of the party was over. It seems hard to believe a few simple questions could crush the excitement of going to a party.
It is this writer’s opinion that the girl’s parents were doing the right thing; being open to allowing her to attend the party, providing that they were comfortable knowing she would be safe. Checking in with the parents of the party’s host is a good place to start to determine if the risks to their daughter’s safety and well-being are low enough for her to attend.
Teenagers don’t often like it when a parent does their job in ensuring their child will be safe. They use the YOU DON’T TRUST ME statement as a way of getting the parent to back down. They may have heard other teenagers say that THEIR parents don’t check up on them, causing them to think that their own parents are being controlling and over protective. Teenagers feel embarrassed by their parents checking in and staying aware of what they are doing. But staying in the know of what our teenagers are doing is very important for keeping them safe.
The prefrontal cortex of the brain provides judgment, decision making, and the moderation of social behaviour; all of which are necessary for keeping an individual safe. Unfortunately for our kids, this region of the brain is not usually fully developed until around the age of 25. This means a teenager may have great difficulty with the functions listed above. Which is clearly why parents must coach, guide, and monitor teenagers to help keep them safe when they can’t do it on their own.
The next time your teen shouts, YOU DON’T TRUST ME, because you want to ensure there will be adult supervision where your child is going to be, and you want to meet the parents, don’t get angry. Take comfort in knowing that you’re doing your job. It may not be making you popular or well liked by your teenager at the moment, but it’s all a part of the role the parent plays in raising teenagers.