I need Someone To Talk To! Does Your Teen Need Someone to Talk To?
Adolescence can be a very difficult time for young teens as they begin to experience physical and emotional changes in their lives. Many teens go through the stage where they need a trusted relative or friend to confide in. When a teen says “I need someone to talk to”, he or she may need help in facing the difficulties of growing up in our ever changing complex society.
Today’s teen faces greater challenges than ever in managing his social, academic and personal lifestyle. Statements such as “I need to talk to someone about my problems online,” “I need someone to talk to about my problems” or “I just need someone to talk to” express the need for teens to communicate what they are going through with someone who is willing to listen. Social media sites offer a means for teens to casually chat with their peers; however, they may not feel comfortable sharing intimate details about their personal problems online.
Teens need to develop a close relationship with mature individuals who can help walk them through the difficulties of adolescence. These individuals could be relatives, teachers, neighbors, counselors or other adults who take interest in a teen’s life. Having a trustworthy, mature friend who will take time to listen, console and offer good counsel can make a big difference in a teen’s life. Even teens who give the impression that they have it all together need help from time to time. By making an effort to draw close to their teens, parents can be that special someone their son or daughter turns to in time of need.
Understanding Your Teen
As your child grows into adolescence, he may express the desire for greater independence in making decisions on his own. If you’ve taken time to teach him how to make good decisions in his childhood, he’ll have a stronger foundation for decision making as he grows older. Even though he may slip and fall during his teen years, you will at least have done your part. Many teens forsake childhood morals and values during adolescence due to pressure from their peers. As a parent, it’s important to understand the challenges your teen faces and offer your encouragement and support when he needs it most.
Many parents lack trust in their teens – sometimes with good reason. When teens continually lie, cheat or rebel against home norms, it’s difficult for parents to trust them with greater independence and privileges. Teens need to realize that trust is a two way street. Young teens, in particular, need greater restrictions and guidelines to help them make wise decisions in their lives. Many young teens allow peer pressure to dictate their actions, resulting in bad decisions that can have negative repercussions far into their future. By tuning into what’s happening in your young teen’s life, you can gain a better perspective into the difficulties he’s facing. This gives you a better idea of how to help them cope with situations beyond their experience and control.
Teens need boundaries to help keep them from making costly mistakes that can ruin their future. Most teens don’t have the maturity or experience to face life’s challenges on their own. At the same time, parents should not try to manipulate their teens into doing what parents want. Teens need the freedom to make decisions on their own, even wrong decisions, as long as their decisions are not going to cause them or others harm. By using wisdom, parents can give their young people greater leeway to follow the path they desire. Greater freedom and privileges are earned through mutual respect and trust.
When it comes to boundaries, it’s good if parents and teens can discuss the topic openly and come to a mutual agreement on the boundaries they decide. If you, as a parent, have doubts or fears concerning certain aspects of your teen’s life, such as Internet usage, this is a good time to express your feelings in a calm and collective manner. Your doubts may seem very real to you but could very well be totally unfounded. In like manner, it’s important for parents to listen to their teen’s perspective on matters of importance to him. If you can keep the lines of communication open and gain your teen’s trust, the next time he expresses “a need to talk to someone now”, you’ll be at the top of his list to meet that need.
In order for boundaries to be effective, there must be give and take in making home rules and setting consequences when rules are broken. When possible, give your teen the benefit of the doubt for mistakes and misunderstandings that may arise as this sets the stage for trust to grow.
Some common areas where rules should be put in place include:
- Internet Usage
- Cell Phone Usage
- Driving Privileges (if your teen is of age)
- Lights Out on School Days
- Home Jobs or Responsibilities
- Respect for Family Members
As long as your teen lives under your roof, he needs to know he cannot do whatever he wants. Home rules and obligations can help keep your teen on track and make for a more organized and pleasant home atmosphere.
Teens can be secretive, uncommunicative and downright incorrigible at times, but that’s when they need your unconditional love and understanding the most. You may not agree with everything your teen says or does, but you can assure him of your love. Open communication is key to drawing close to your teens and keeping abreast of what’s happening in their hearts and minds. Even if you share a different vision, lifestyle and goals, you can still be open to listen to your young people and show interest in the things that matter most to them.
It’s wonderful when parents can tell their young people “Call me when you need someone to talk to” or “If you need someone to talk to, I’m here” and really mean it. Such comments should be followed with your commitment to be there for your teen when the occasion warrants. The next time your teen says to you “I need someone to talk to right now,” you would do well to drop what you’re doing (within reason) and tend to his or her needs.
Many teens are turning to perfect strangers to talk to for lack of a confidential relative or friend to fill this need. Some teens even post comments such as “I need someone to talk to online” and begin to confide in people who respond, without really knowing who they are. This type of interaction can be extremely dangerous for a young teen as online predators and stalkers are always on the lookout for a new victim. Stalkers have even been known to instigate conversations with people by posting such lines as “I just need to talk to someone” or “I need to talk to someone now” on social media sites.
If your teens are members of social sites, they should be leery of starting conversations or interactions with people they don’t know. Most social sites have privacy settings that promote greater security for their users by limiting interactions to only friends. Parents should ensure their teens know how to use these settings and are abiding by these protective measures when chatting, texting or posting messages online.
Need Someone to Talk to Hotline
Some communities have set up teen hotlines for young people who need someone to talk to in emergency situations. Here teens can receive professional counseling and advice concerning such problems as bullying, drug or alcohol abuse, unexpected pregnancy, rape, suicidal thoughts, etc. Such hotlines can be of tremendous help to teens in crisis situations, especially if the teen has no one else to turn to in their time of need.
Teen hotlines are often manned by teen counselors who can relate to issues teens face at home and at school. By connecting with a teen hotline, young people can find a listening ear to share their frustrations and fears as well as get helpful advice for working through the difficulty they are facing. The confidential nature of community hotlines allows teens to partake of their use without worrying about being criticized, ostracized or receiving negative repercussions from their chat. Hotlines offer an invaluable service to teens who desperately need the encouragement and support of another human being.
Everyone needs someone to confide in at some point in their lives. Parents, teachers, counselors and other trustworthy adults can fill that role for needy teens. Adolescence poses many challenges for teens of all ages. Teens often need help to navigate through this stage in their lives. Having someone with whom they can share their feelings, problems and experiences can make a world of difference between success and failure in a teen’s life. Family ties can be strained or strengthened during this time period, depending on a parent’s personal involvement in their kids’ lives. Parental interest, love and support will be key to helping teens succeed.