is proud to feature the Steamboats Parenting Workshop. We offer resources to help parents raise happy kids.

Grant A Wish - Take an hour or two each week to do exactly what your child desires without interruptions or distractions, even if they want to play a game you hate or build block towers and then knock them all down.

Start and end each day with "I love you" - We often think we show our love for our children through our actions, but kids want and need to be told that they're loved.

- Parenting Tips from

Why are Teenagers Misunderstood?

Hi Nori,

i have to do a 2 min speech on why teenagers are misunterstood could u please help me on this speech i cannot understand why teenagers are misunderstood by the older generation.

Hi M.,

Thank you for your question. We were all teenagers once and we may have felt misunderstood. I know I did, but not all teenagers are misunderstood. The statistics run like this:

25% of teenagers feel extremely misunderstood and the years between thirteen and nineteen are a tumultuous time. They experience a high level of confusion and may act out self-destructive experiences using family, friends, sex, drugs, depression, suicide attempts, running away from home, joining gangs, or hanging with other mixed-up teenagers; joining cults, or getting in trouble with the law.

25% of teenagers experience milder problems. They still feel misunderstood, but act it out in less dramatic ways.

50% of teenagers go through the teen years easily, while experiencing only the typical problems of sibling rivalry, interacting with friends, fighting with parents for their independence, etc.

So when you say "teenagers are misunderstood," you're basically talking only about twenty-five to fifty percent of teenagers. So what is the difference between the half who are misunderstood and the half who seem to fit in well and progress with little or no problem?

The teen years represent the most difficult transition in the human life cycle. At twelve years old we are dependent children, but by age eighteen, we are expected to become self-sufficient adults. It is a huge challenge.

All life cycles pose challenges, for example in mid-life, most people go from having teenagers in the home to an empty nest. Parents face choices to revive dormant careers, rediscover romance in the marriage, or fill their lives with new interests. Retirement and the final years of life provide different challenges. However, the teen years stand out as the most difficult transition a person goes through in their entire lifetime. Plus, they have to do it when they're young and without much knowledge of the real world.

A supportive and loving family is the best possible environment for someone making this journey. The 25% who have the worst time usually feel misunderstood. They have a difficult time fitting into their family.

Stress is the most common reason for this. Severe trauma, such as a divorce, death of a parent or other close loved one, incest, family violence, poor boundaries, adultery, financial problems, or a family chaos can take away the child's trust and put them in the category of being misunderstood.

Sometimes the child has a genuine reason to stop trusting the family, or sometimes they just misinterpret the family's intentions. If there's a divorce, for example, the parents may have been taking care of their own needs, never intending to hurt their children. The parents misunderstand the child, because they failed to notice how their child was reacting to their divorce. They saw the child as an object, like a doll, when actually the child felt resentful, unworthy, and unloved.

Trauma may affect each child differently. For example, in a family with two children eighteen and fourteen, say that the father loses his job and they must move to another state where he can find employment. The oldest child may see this as a good thing because she finds a desirable college in the new location, while the second child may see this as a tragedy because she is forced to leave her close friends. The oldest child will feel accepted and understood. The second child may repress her feelings and become depressed, go on drugs, and take thirty years to work it out.

If the family really understood their second child, they might try to help her with counseling, they might show her how to get involved in new social circles and hobbies, and they might help her visit and stay in contact with her old friends. Adults cannot understand how deeply separation from friends can hurt a teenager, so they just misunderstand and think the child can adapt easily to anything the parents put into her life.

When you say that teenagers are misunderstood, I would say that it means parents overlook their teenagers' feelings.

I hope this helps. Sincerely, Nori

How to Communicate with Teens

Hi Nori, I am currently taking my first year social work problem and am writing a paper on how to work with teens with behavior problems. I am having a difficult time finding information on how to talk to teens. I was wondering if you would have some suggestions on how to find information and if you yourself had any suggestions for me. It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.
- T.L.

Hi T.L.,
That's a good question. Too often there is a huge communication gap between adults and their children. I believe the best way to talk to teens is through art projects. Once they've created an object to represent their dilemma it's much easier to talk about. I always found art a good way to communicate with teenagers. It also works well for younger children.

But if you just want to "talk" to a teen without anything like art, music, hobbies, etc., in the mix, here are a few ideas. It may be easier to talk to teens if you imagine that you are talking to a grandparent or another respected older person. Speaking to an elderly person may also seem awkward, but for most of us it's easier to imagine what we might say to an older person.

There is still a generation gap, but by imagining a different kind of relationship, we can take our mind off the teen's unapproachable, hormone-ridden aura. They are, after all, just people like everyone else. They may be oozing with attitude, but like everybody else, they usually want love, acceptance, friendship and respect. Our young folks are carbon copies of our ancestors.

Art Therapy Books

Contemporary Art Therapy With Adolescents, by Shirley Riley.
Creative Therapy With Children & Adolescents (Practical Therapist Series), by Angela M. Hobday, Kate Ollier.
Creative Interventions for Troubled Children & Youth, by Liana Lowenstein.
Something to Draw on: Activities and Interventions Using an Art Therapy Approach, by Carol Ross.
Understanding Children's Drawings, by Cathy A. Malchiodi.
Windows to Our Children A Gestalt Therapy Approach to Children and Adolescents, by Violet Oaklander.

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