It's not easy being a teenager, let alone being the parent of a teenager. You may try desperately to understand what is going through your teenager's mind and, at times, communication might seem impossible. Your child's struggle to be independent, yet still connected to you, can be confusing at best. Understanding some of the different issues teenagers face can help you demystify the behaviors and attitudes that confront you on a daily basis.
Drugs and Alcohol
One of the top concerns most parents of teenagers have is making sure their children avoid illegal drug and alcohol use. Teenagers often face an inordinate amount of peer pressure to try certain drugs, smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, teenagers commonly abuse alcohol, prescription drugs and inhalants, inhaling fumes obtained from glue and aerosols, and over-the-counter medications such as cold or sleep medications. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol can be common during teenage years. Teenagers tend to feel indestructible or invincible and may not always take risk factors into account. If they're not careful or if little parental involvement exists, some teens may develop a serious addiction to alcohol or drugs.
The teenage years are often confusing, exciting years in terms of sexuality. Teens experience physical and emotional changes that lead to "raging hormones." They experiment with romantic relationships and may engage in sexual behaviors. Peer pressure may be another component of sexual experimentation, as some teens may have sex just because their partner is pressuring them or they think everyone else is doing it.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, some teens may question whether they are straight, bi-sexual or homosexual. Dealing with issues of sexuality presents a number of difficult emotions to teenagers, including anxiety, depression, anger and frustration.
Family and Friends
Teenagers must deal with the conflicting needs and desires of their family and friends. According to the Center for Young Women's Health, the amount of time teens spend with romantic partners and friends can often lead to fighting within the family. Furthermore, teens experience peer pressure to fit in regarding how they dress, weekend or after-school activities, what music they listen to or what kind of car they have. In family life, teens may be dealing with sibling struggles, divorce, separation or fighting among their parents and death or illness of family members.
Most teens feel a tremendous amount of academic pressure, including pressure to get into a good college, to choose the right career path, to perform well on college entrance exams or to succeed in their current classes. According to a Sept. 8, 2006 PBS NewsHour article, the academic pressure facing teens can come from parents, teachers and school counselors, often taking a toll on their well-being.