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Dispatches from High School: 'What I wish my parents did more'

I'm Parenting Editor at SheKnows. I'm the co-author of Let's Panic About Babies(Macmillan, 2011). I've also written for numerous publications including Salon, Redbook, Nerve, and The Onion. I live in Brooklyn with my husband, son, tiny d...

Teens tell us the truth about what they want from their parents

In our first installment of Dispatches from High School, we asked our teenagers what they wanted their parents to quit saying or doing. This time, we asked what they wish their parents would give them more of.

Their answers really caught us off guard. (Spoiler: They weren't "give me money" or "go away.") We were surprised by the consistency of their responses — and, frankly, touched. (And we're scheduling more family dinners in our own households despite our kids' protests. They'll thank us later. Probably.) We hope you find these insights as enlightening as we did.

What is the one thing you wish your parents would do more?” 

"I would wish my parents would do more small family get-togethers. I know it is hard to get everyone in my family together at the same time because we are all so busy. But even just some family dinners and movie nights mean a lot to me."

— Junior

Teens tell us the truth about what they want from their parents
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"I wish my parents could spend more time with us during the week. It’s also very challenging because during the weekend, when I have plans with friends, that’s the time when my parents are available. It’s hard having to work out a schedule and it’s difficult having opposite time frames. Sometimes I’m thankful that my parents haven’t been home all the time because I am much more mature and independent than I would’ve been. I think looking back on it, I do wish that my parents were home more often. I remember when I was little, I found out that I saw my teachers more than I saw my parents during the week and that made me so angry and upset. Lots of my friends had moms with part-time or stay-at-home jobs, so they were always home. I wish that my parents could’ve been home more when I was super-little."

— Evan, freshman

"Sometimes I wish my parents would accept how I feel rather than trying to direct how I feel."

— Sophomore

Teens tell us the truth about what they want from their parents
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"My mom and I have very similar opinions on topics such as politics, clothes, relationships and much more. However, on the rare occasion when we disagree, the result usually does not end in my favor. Our most recent controversial topic had to do with college, as I am a junior in high school. I am leaning towards looking at big schools that have the option of Greek life. Unfortunately for me, my mom believes that sororities are shallow, superficial and judgmental. While some of these assumptions might contain some truth, I want to figure out my own beliefs by myself. Accepting the fact that I occasionally have different opinions is the one parenting skill which my mother could improve on. However, I understand that she believes she always knows what is best for me, and I greatly respect that. I understand that what she says is motivated by love. To love someone that much is truly a beautiful ability to have. I truly want her opinions, but I would also benefit more by engaging in research on the matter by myself, even if this means learning something the hard way."

— Junior

"My parents do so much for me and take care of me more than most kids in this world will ever experience, and I am grateful for it. I have a home, and I eat three meals a day, so right now it does not cross my mind to ask my parents for much more. If anything, they should be telling me what they wish I would do more often. If there is anything I wish they would do more of it would be for them to treat themselves a little more often — because they are rocking this whole parenting thing."

— Frederick, freshman

Teens tell us the truth about what they want from their parents
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"I live in a family of five people with crazy individual schedules. We are all always so busy and rarely ever have time to all be together for more than 30 minutes. I wish my parents would coordinate more family dinners throughout the week. Just one hour to ask one another about our how are day was or joke about how terrible my grade on that calculus test was. I’m not asking for a gourmet meal here — a simple bowl of ramen would suffice. It has hit me that in a year and a half, I won’t get to see my family as often, and I want to take advantage of the ability to spend time with them now before I leave home for college. Despite our insane schedules, dinner once a week isn’t a lot to ask, and I’m sure my parents wouldn’t mind an hour to relax, talk to their kids and eat a delicious (probably take-out) meal."

— Lexie, junior

Teens tell us the truth about what they want from their parents
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"The one thing I wish my parents could do more of is criticize my work. I feel as if I’ve grown up in a bubble of positivity around my schoolwork, and as a result, I can’t take feedback without it hurting my ego. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten criticism over the years from my parents about my manners, my behavior, etc., but the work I create in school has always been lauded until recently, when I’ve actually started getting critiqued. Suddenly, I’m second-guessing myself since I’ve grown up with so much positive feedback. I believe it was my parents' job to help instill the belief that criticism is not just OK, but necessary as a means for advancement. It would’ve been nice to have more constructive criticism so that... now, I wouldn’t be so sensitive to it."

Senior

"My life is pretty stressful right now since I’m in the middle of my senior year, and thus, the college process. Most of the times when I’m at home on the weekends, I’m trying to catch up on homework before going out with my friends, as we usually hang out on Saturday afternoons. It’s pretty hard to manage schoolwork as well as my social life and spending time with my parents, and when I do have time to sit down and take a breather, most of our conversations circulate around applying to college. At this point in time, I would really appreciate spending time with them in ways that do not involve talking about already stressful things, for example, going on a walk or out to the movies or dinner. I think it’s especially important right now to cherish the time that I have with them since I’ll be out of the house in less than a year."

— Senior

Teens tell us the truth about what they want from their parents
Image: SheKnows

"Hang out more. I know that they are busy with work and whatnot, but I would love to chill more with them and actually have a meaningful conversation over them barely responding while on a laptop. Of course, life is very busy [with] work and school, but it would be nice."

— Molly, senior

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