To teenagers, life can be so unfair. No one understands them. Everyone patronizes them. Their parents are always wrong—or at least, that's how it seems. Without guidance, teenagers can often feel like the world is against them. Sometimes, all they need is a bit of advice and a nudge in the right direction. These parents share the most important things they want teenagers to know.
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#1 Learn To Say "No"
Learn to say no. If a request makes you uncomfortable you can say no, even it's to family or friends! It's healthy to set boundaries and learn to respect other people's too.
#2 Just Do You
Firstly, work on improving yourself and your interests now, it will set you up for more success later and likely will attract others to you. Secondly, none of the social-structure or drama is going to matter once you're out of school, so don't worry about what others think, you just do you. And finally, it's completely legal for a teenager to buy all the equipment and ingredients to make beer, just saying.
#3 Talk To Your Parents
If your parents are good people, you should try talking to them about your problems. Don't let embarrassment get in the way.
#4 Be Healthy
Be healthy. Here's a recipe that's super simple, fairly healthy, takes about 5-10 minutes and anyone can do: Buy some bagged lettuce, take a cucumber, grab some olives or carrots or whatever else you like, snag some feta cheese. Fry up a small amount of minced turkey. Put lettuce in a bowl, slice up as much cucumber as you want, add that to bowl, cut up carrots, add to bowl, same with olives and extra veggies.
Put in the small amount of turkey (like 100g is enough) and crumble a small amount of feta on top (feta has a strong flavor so you always need less than you think you do). It makes a really delicious salad that fills you up for hours. Turkey is also naturally flavorful when fried, so you can decide to add spices or not to add extra flavor.
#5 Think About Babies
Just because you pop out a baby doesn't mean it'll keep your significant other around and, at times, it'll make them break up with you. To that part, just because you have the kid doesn't mean it'll unconditionally love you, especially when you're a bad parent.
#6 Your Parents Love You
That we miss you and we actually want to spend time with you, not because of how you were (our little boy or girl) but because we are in awe of who you are and want to get to know you better. We want you to know that we love you unconditionally but also that it’s okay and fun to hang out sometimes; soon you’ll be leaving home, time passes quickly, and we want to create as many good memories as we can for you so you can use them for when the world is not so kind and I’m not around to give you a hug. You’re amazing, you have always been and I know your life will be filled with ups and downs but I hope the love we share reminds you that you’ll always have a soft spot to land.
#7 Don't Do Illegal Stuff
To my former teenage self: When they say don’t do illegal substances until your brain is fully developed, there’s a reason, and you should listen.
#8 Intense Emotions Are Temporary
Your emotions won’t be this intense forever but they are real and valid. My parents always invalidated my feelings: too dramatic, it’s just your hormones, you’ll grow out of it, you don’t know how good you have it. While on some base level, they possibly were right, it didn’t mean my feelings weren’t real and intense in that moment. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. But don’t wallow or feed the Depression Kitty. It DOES get better.
#9 Have Patience
As an older teen talking to my younger teen self: Have some patience.
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#10 Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
When I was a teenager I was going through a really rough patch where I felt I might have depression. I didn't know who to talk to, so I thought I'd ask my doctor about it. I told him I thought I might be depressed and asked if he had any suggestions on what to do. He laughed at me and said, "You're not depressed, you're just a teenager."
I never went back to that doctor again, but I also didn't open up to anyone about the way I felt again. I went through a really self-destructive peoriod following that using illegal substances and self-harm to cope and was about to flunk out my school, which was one of the best private schools in the city. I finally decided to try and get some help again and after I did, I wished I had done it sooner. My point is don't be afraid to ask others for help. Wanting to better your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, even if it might feel that way.
#11 Your Parents Are Flawed, Too
Your parents are just flawed people too. They are (mostly) trying their best, but will still make mistakes.
#12 It's Okay Not to Have a Plan
It's okay to not have a plan yet. To clarify, I think you should have at least loose goals, something (anything) you're working toward, otherwise, you won't go anywhere. But the plan to get there doesn't have to be well thought out yet. You definitely don't have to have to know all the details at this point and you certainly shouldn't beat yourself up or stress out.
#13 Be Calm
Be calm when arguing your point of view. Accept criticism, shrug off the type of personal attacks and ad hominems that don't contribute to the debate.
#14 Put Your Phone Down
This is where I go all "old lady": Please put your phone away in the car. Even at stoplights. Just wait until you arrive. You may be super used to it, but it only takes one second of inattention to become potentially fatal. Someone just died in my neighborhood for this very reason. Sending a snap. It can wait.
#15 There Are Many Paths
There are lots of paths to a successful happy life, not just the one that involves straight A’s and the Ivy League or other top colleges.
#16 Get Healthy Now
Build good health habits now. If you're not already active, find a simple active hobby you can do. Take up Pokemon Go or take up bike riding or something. Also, learn how to cook some basic and healthy meals like chicken pesto pasta or fried rice. The healthier you are as a teen the easier it is to stay healthy as an adult.
#17 Some People Never Grow Up
Cliques and high school mentality exist forever. Some people just never grow up.
#18 Being Talkative is Okay
There's nothing wrong with not liking to talk to people as long as you're friendly. Don't force yourself to be talkative just because others want you to be. You'll still need to learn social skills like gauging trustworthiness, effective communication and helpfulness. However, you don't need to force yourself to be talkative to be socially adept; you just have to be mindful.
#19 Patience Is Good
Early 20's me talking to Teen me: Have some patience, it's okay for things to take time
Mid 20's me talking to Early 20's me: Stop mistaking apathy for patience! Your ambition was your drive and without it you are stagnating!
#20 You Have Options
Right now you have options. Figure out what you want. Every bill you get, every responsibility you add to your life takes away options. Eventually, people have all these bills and kids and marriages, but it’s all responsibility that you are going to have. It might take a few years to figure out. Just don’t go buy that new car because you want to be cool, because you just took away a little bit of your freedom.
Live free now, you have very few responsibilities. Do all the crazy dumb stuff. Fail at business—we need more entrepreneurs! Do it and fail now because when your 30 with a family and a career and you didn’t take that chance when you were a teen, it will dig at you every single day.
#21 Your Parents Care About You
That we love and care about them, I think we often get caught up in day-to-day life and forget to tell them this.
#22 Take a Break From Social Media
If social media makes you feel bad about yourself, just stop. It makes everyone feel bad—even the people whose lives seem so much better and glamorous than yours. Chances are, they’re posting that stuff to not feel bad either. Everyone is posting their Greatest Hits. Remember, everybody poops—even the girl posting glam pics from Greece, she probably pooped right before or after the pic. The point is, don’t get wrapped up in that. Take a month or two break from social media and see how you feel.
#23 Emotions Don't Dictate Choices
Me telling my teen self: Don't let your emotions dictate your choices.
#24 Don't Miss The "Human Experience"
Don't allow the internet to make you miss the "human experience." Use the internet to enhance your real life, don't use it to escape from it. You are part of a generation that is likely to have an online friend before even have a "real life" friend... it's okay to have online friends but to have only online friends and not have actual friends you can touch and see face to face, that's what I call "missing the human experience." There is nothing like face to face interaction. The internet can be addictive but too much of it could make you have no life. They already have the first rehab centers for online addiction.
#25 Take Care of Your Mental Health
It's okay to take some time to take care of your mental health, nobody will hate you for it.
#26 Teach Yourself Finance
Teach yourself personal finance basics. Your school and maybe even parents probably neglected this, if times haven’t changed all that much. But... the internet is wonderful! You can teach yourself. Take an edX or Kahn or iTunesU course. Learn the basics and start saving. Really truly understand student loans before taking them. And save. Saving sounds like something you have plenty of time for later... when you make more money... but tomorrow never comes. Learn and save now.
#27 Delete Your Internet Profiles Often
Delete your internet profiles every few years. Your boss in five years does not want to see your postings from today, and we all post dumb stuff. Google yourself and make sure those accounts are deleted as well.
#28 Be Rebellious But Safe
Go ahead and be rebellious, it's part of growing up. But please be safe while you are doing it! Don't depend on your date for transportation until you know them, tell someone where you are so we know how to get to you in an emergency, keep your phone charged, and if you need it, please ask for help–no matter the circumstance.
#29 Don't Get Arrested
Don't smoke or get arrested.
#30 College Can Wait
You don’t HAVE to go to college. And you also don’t have to NOT go if you don’t know what to do with your life. You’ll figure it out and maybe get inspired by your classes. And as long as it will not launch you into huge debt, it IS okay to major in something you might not end up getting a career in. College is more than career training. It’s a much bigger learning experience about... everything! People, the world, yourself. Don’t dig a debt, work very hard, have lots of fun, and try to keep your eyes on a career path, but also absorb everything like a sponge.
#31 Don't Listen to Everything You Read Online
You really shouldn't listen to 99% of the things you read online.
#32 Sometimes Life Sucks
As a mom and a former teen, sometimes life just sucks and it feels like it will never get better, but oftentimes the suckiness is temporary. It's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but maybe there is a bend in the path that is keeping the light from you. Keep going until you can finally make your own decisions and choices for what your life looks like.
#33 Calm Down
Calm down. You don't need to know what you want to do with the rest of your life right now. Take your time and look at many different avenues.
#34 You Won't Miss High School
I hated when people told me, “you won’t even miss high school when you’re older.” I did for a little bit. And now, I really don’t. As important as it is as a state of your pre-adulthood, in the big scheme of things, it’s just a tiny chapter. So don’t get hung up on the mistakes you made or the drama you had. Appreciate the experience for what it gave you, and move on.
#35 Take Daily Showers
Not a parent, but a teacher. Once you're 11 or 12 years old, you need to take daily showers, change your shirt, socks, and underwear and wear deodorant every day. I'm serious. There's always one or two in every class.
#36 Gain Life Experience Before Kids
Gain more life experience before considering children. Having a child when you're too young or inexperienced robs the baby of much-needed stability and direction. An education, a halfway decent job and a general understanding of life is highly recommended. I became a father at a young age. I had no formal education, a $17k a year job and was in an otherwise unhappy relationship with the mother.
#37 Wear Sunscreen!
WEAR SUNSCREEN. I’m not a parent but I’m 24 and I’ve always worn sunscreen, and it’s crazy how my friends the same age who didn’t wear all have wrinkles already and look much older than they are.
#38 Cover All Bases
Set yourself up to have options and opportunities, then choose the one you feel is right at the time.
#39 No One Cares
Not a parent but what I realized with age is that no one gives a hoot about you—in a good way. When you’re out of school, all that social bull will become irrelevant because that’s not how people interact, and you realize how little it mattered.
#40 You'll Grow
Your body parts won't all grow at the same speed. Don't panic, everything will probably even out.
#41 High School Shouldn't Be Glamorous
A lot of people try to glamorize high school and make you think your high school years are the best years of your life. For a lot of people, this just isn't true. It's okay not to like high school or to feel like you don't belong. You are not alone. It gets better. High schoolers deal with a lot of heavy stuff. A lot of mental illness comes to light at this age, including depression and anxiety. Many who struggle with these issues won't get help until years later. High school kids also deal with a lot of issues, like identity issues, bullying, pressure to conform, disputes with parents, and the pressure associated with juggling work, school and life that often get better once high school is done. Hang in there, it does get better.
#42 Don't Copy Influencers
Don't emulate celebrity and 'influencers'. Be your own person.
#43 Break Up With Bad Friendships
Losing friends for sticking up for yourself is so much better than staying with them while they inject their toxicity into you and lead you down a very bad path (or constantly make you feel worse and worse about yourself) and is actually a great thing. You’ll thank yourself for it later on in life, trust me.
#44 Have as Little Debt as Possible
If you want to go to college, see about getting it done with just as little debt as possible. Two years in community college is a good if not ideal start.
#45 Everything is Temporary
"This too shall pass."