Something happens when you grow up: you stop talking to your parents about everything in your life. When you’re little, your parents are the first people you want to tell when anything at all happens. Maybe you don’t remember, or maybe you were brought up by your grandparents or an aunt, uncle, or someone else. Regardless, it’s virtually guaranteed you had an overwhelming urge to be seen and heard by your primary caregivers.
For sake of discussion, let’s say either your mom or your dad was your go-to person. Think back as early as your memories go. It’s different for everyone, but it’s probably somewhere between ages four and six. Not only did you want them to hear about everything that happened in your life, you wanted them to see everything you could do.
Especially the new stuff.
Do you think it’s possible to count the times you said, “Mommy, look at this!” or “Daddy, look at me!” You probably said it about anything from balancing on one leg while singing a cute song to riding a bike to putting two baby carrots up your nose and pretending to be a bull.
An orange bull. Admit it. You did that. Like a million times.
You kept up with the look at me approach to the relationship for what seems like forever. Or at least until you were around twelve. But now that you’re a teenager, there’s a good chance all that has changed. You don’t tell your parents about everything, because things are different now. The problems on your radar are not the same as when you were in grade school.
Are you going to tell your parents your best friend skipped school? Are you going to tell them one of your friends had sex, smoked pot, or cheated on a test? Are you going to tell them you smoked pot or had sex? Or that you’re so depressed you’re considering self-harm?
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If you are, then good. Talk to them. But if you are, don’t worry – it’s not at all unusual.
Who Can You Talk To?
The first people you want to talk to about your problems are your friends. Sometimes, though, you face things that are too big for your friends to handle, and you know it. But if you stopped talking to your parents about stuff, what do you do?
Let’s address why you don’t want to talk to your parents in the first place: you’re afraid. What are you afraid of? If your reason is on this list, you’re not alone:
- They won’t understand.
- They have problems of their own to deal with.
- I’ll get in trouble.
- They’ll be disappointed in me.
- They are the problem.
When you’re dealing with a big problem and feel like you have nowhere to go and no one you can trust, it’s an awful place to be. Reading this blog all the way through to this point is an important step, because it means you know you’re facing something you can’t handle, and you’re smart enough to realize you need support.
That’s a huge step. And you’re ready for the next one: following through on the impulse to talk and getting the support you need. There are resources out there specifically for teenagers in your exact situation. Not exactly exactly, of course – everyone’s precise situation is unique – but if you click the following links, you’ll find over a dozen helplines, websites, or organizations set up to help teens who need help:
ReachOut.com: Follow this link to find out when and why you should call a helpline, who you’ll end up talking to, and what types of questions the people on the other end of the line will ask you.
Teenlineonline.org: Follow this link to get connected to a teen who understands and wants to help. This site is amazing because it’s all about teens helping each other. If you’re not interested in talking to an adult just yet, this is the perfect place to start looking for help.
PBS.org: Yes, this is the Public Broadcasting Service, the station you probably watched when you were a toddler and during your early grade school years. Follow this link for a comprehensive list of phone numbers, organizations, and websites ready and waiting to give you the help you need.
Take the Step. Click the Link. Make the Call.
It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to have problems. It’s okay to be you, feeling the things you’re feeling, having the thoughts you’re having. It’s okay to feel lost and wonder what you can do about it.
It’s okay if you don’t want to talk to your parents.
Please, though: talk to someone. It can make all the difference in the world.
Are you ready to get help?Evolve offers CARF and Joint Commission accredited treatment for teens with mental health disorders and/or substance abuse. You will receive the highest caliber of care in our comfortable, home-like residential treatment centers. We offer a full continuum of care, including residential, partial hospitalization/day (PHP), and intensive outpatient treatment (IOP).
Angus is a writer from Atlanta, GA who writes about behavioral health, adolescent development, education, and mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.