Description: Think about this either based on personal experience or hypothetically. A teenager goes to school in the morning seeming rather relaxed and happy. At the end of the day they return home quiet (sullen) and clearly distracted. When one of their parents asks what is up they respond “nothing” in a grumpy tone and then head to their room. Now think and hypothesize. Why does the teenager not want to talk to their parent about what is so clearly bothering them? Yes, of course, it could be an entirely unique issue or problem but what might some of the reasons be for why teenagers in general might be reticent to speak with their parents about things that are bothering them? Think of this as a hypothesis generating exercise in preparation for conducting a developmental study of adolescents and the things they will and will not share with their parents. Focus in on what you think some of the general reasons might be. Once you have collected your thoughts, hypotheses, and possible developmental theoretic connections have a read through the article linked below. It is written by a clinical psychologist whose practice focusses upon teenagers and she offers her own suggestions based on her clinical experience (a really good place to start when generating hypotheses).
Source: Why Your Grumpy Teen Doesn’t Want to Talk to You, Lisa Damour, Well, Family, Adolescence, The New York Times.
Date: November 15, 2017
Photo Credit: iStock
When thinking and hypothesizing about teenagers and when interacting with them it is important to keep in mind that they are in the process of arriving at maturity. They are not there yet but they already have some of the tools necessary for operating in the adult world. One of the big tools is the ability to predict how those who are commonly around you will respond or react to different sorts of social situations or to different kinds of disclosures by those close to them. Such skills are essential for effective relationship management. So, teenagers have begun to figure out how their parents typically react or respond to certain kinds of news and they may not want to experience that response in some cases once they can predict it. In addition, parents have had many years of talking about the (hopefully) cute of funny things their small children said or did. Many parents do not appreciate the point at or near which such easy disclosures need to stop as they violate the typical expectation of mature relationships that not everything that is said in the context of one relationship should be shared in other relationships. The author of the article, as noted earlier, is a clinical psychologist and as such is aware of the need to be clear with clients what she will and will not share. Threats to others or self? Sharable. Negative thoughts about siblings or about school peers? Not-sharable. For the psychologist it is a matter of ethics, meaning it involves conscious and ongoing reflection. For parents it should involve something similar to ethical reflection on how the nature of their relationship with their teenaged sons and daughters should change as the teenagers age and about how this should be part of the ongoing communications between parents and teens. Relationship ethics make relationships stronger and build trust and relationship strength. Now, how might we assess this in a research context? And will how will we be able to get teens to talk to US?
Questions for Discussion:
- While it may be that teenagers ARE grumpier that younger children and adults might they have understandable and even valid reasons to be that way sometimes?
- What sorts of considerations are or ought to be included in a set of ethical principles for clinical psychologists in therapeutic practice?
- What sorts of things should possibly be included in a set of ethical principles for parents of teenagers? What sorts of ethical principles should apply to the teenagers in those relationships?
References (Read Further):
Damour, L. (2017). Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood. Ballantine Books. This link is to a discussion guide for this book: https://www.drlisadamour.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Untangled_DiscussionGuide_Final.pdf
Kast, N. R., Eisenberg, M. E., & Sieving, R. E. (2016). The role of parent communication and connectedness in dating violence victimization among Latino adolescents. Journal of interpersonal violence, 31(10), 1932-1955. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0886260515570750
Rote, W. M., & Smetana, J. G. (2016). Beliefs about parents’ right to know: Domain differences and associations with change in concealment. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 26(2), 334-344. http://www.academia.edu/download/41688405/RoteSmetanaRTK-LDS12.22.14-FINAL.docx
Haggerty, K. P., Skinner, M. L., Catalano, R. F., Abbott, R. D., & Crutchfield, R. D. (2015). Long-term effects of staying connected with your teen® on drug use frequency at age 20. Prevention Science, 16(4), 538-549. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4393759/