When my twins were first born, I had an endless amount of questions about child rearing.
Why aren’t they sleeping through the night?
Why is their poop changing colors?
And the question I asked the most often was
Why are they always crying?
Now that my twins are teens, in many ways I feel like a new mom again since raising teens is such a perplexing and confusing experience. Their behaviors are often hard for me to figure out. Like,why do they always feel the need to close the door? Why do they want to spend every waking moment with their friends?
My initial reaction when I’m feeling bewildered (which is often) is to grab my phone and Google it. And then I wonder, how did my mother raise me without an Internet connection?
Fortunately, parents do have the ability to easily find answers to their questions which will hopefully make parenting a teenager a little less daunting. As a former counselor for adolescents in a residential facility, I can answer some common questions asked by parents of teens and also provide links to articles for more information. Here are the top eight questions most Googled by parents of teenagers.
1. Why do teens do drugs?
- During my time working with teens, there was a myriad of reasons why they chose to use drugs. It ranged from peer pressure to mental health issues (as a form of self-medication). Here is an article related to why some teens use drugs:
- If you are concerned that your teen is using drugs or alcohol, this article discusses signs to look for and options to get treatment:
- The best way to help prevent your teens from using drugs is to have open communication with them about drugs and how they feel in all areas of their life (friends, school, sports, etc.). Here is an article related to the importance of communication in preventing drug use:
2. Why do teens cut themselves?
- Cutting yourself is a form of self-injury. When I worked in the residential treatment center, often teens cut themselves as a way to deal with their depression or other negative emotions. If you notice your teen is cutting herself, it is important to seek the help of a mental health professional so your teen can learn a more appropriate coping mechanism for dealing with her emotions. Here are some related articles:
3. Why do teens drink?
- Similar to using drugs, teens often drink alcohol because of peer pressure or as a form of self-medication. Alcohol is also more accessible and acceptable to use than illegal drugs. Some of the teens I worked with had parents who either used or abused alcohol, making it easy for them to obtain it. Here are some related articles:
4. Why do teens smoke?
- Despite laws regulating smoking in select public areas and the increased price of cigarettes, teens still smoke cigarettes. In over fifty percent of US states, the law regarding the age to purchase tobacco is 18, making it more accessible than alcohol. The most common reason teens begin smoking is that their friends or parents smoke. Once they start, smoking is highly addictive. Here are some related articles:
5. Why do teens vape?
- Vaping is smoking using an e-cigarette. Even though the user does not inhale tobacco, they are still inhaling a vapor containing nicotine. Currently, there are not any state laws requiring proof of age to purchase e-cigarettes, which means it is easily attainable for teens. Since e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, teens believe it is a healthier option than a cigarette. Here are some related articles:
6. Why do teens need more sleep?
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that teens sleep for 8-10 hours per night. Sleep is necessary to aid in physical, intellectual and emotional growth. But a teen’s busy schedule, including sports, homework and spending time with friends, often means a later bedtime combined with an early start time (my kids are on the bus at 6:40 a.m.). The end result is not getting enough sleep. Here are some related articles:
7. Why do teens get acne?
- The exact cause of acne is unknown, but hormones, stress and genetics do contribute to developing it. That teens experience an increase in hormones may be why they develop it more than adults. The best treatment for acne is using facial cleanser and, if necessary, seeing a dermatologist. Here are some related articles:
8. Why do teens commit suicide?
- Suicide is a complex issue. Teens may commit suicide because they feel hopeless or pain due to depression. There are some incidents when teens felt bullied or experienced abuse that led to suicide. If you think your teen is having suicidal thoughts, contact a mental health professional or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Here are some related articles:
*This article was originally published in Your Teen (yourteenmag.com).