Your teen has a secret life---feeling, thinking and acting in ways unknown to most parents. Therapy offers young adults the confidentiality and safety to reveal themselves in ways that they cannot do with others. Here is a glimpse at your teen’s private world.
- High level of insecurity. Many teens feel uncomfortable and uncertain about who they are. They are excessively worried about everything from the color of their sneakers to the size of their privates or the shape of their breasts. They compare themselves to media models, seeking an ideal they can never achieve.
- Internet is their third parent. The digital universe is their secular God, the truthful source of all information. Within moments, they can seek out emotional comfort or buy tickets to an upcoming concert. Some teens have an incredibly hard time not using their phone in a sixty-minute session with me. I’ll actually incorporate using a cell phone as part of my therapy session with some kids. I need to connect with their world.
- Fake identities. To avoid your surveillance of their social media sites, teens create false names. You monitor their real name, but their false identity is known only to a few. Kids justify this deceit because of their resentment regarding how you treat them. They perceive your monitoring as an invasion of privacy, similar to you reading their journal.
- High users of pornography. Teens are incredibly sexual, in spite of how they appear to you. They have intense physical and passionate reactions throughout the day. They are an emotional cauldron, with an intense mixture of anxiety, excitement, confusion and self-doubt. Pornography is their educator and source of sexual stimulation. A young teen recently told me he was bored when his dad tried to talk with him about sex. He already “knew everything” from watching porno videos on his smart phone.
- They want you, but on their terms. Your teens love and need you, but only want to interact with you when it’s convenient. At times, teens appear to be indifferent if you attend some event or engage them in conversations. They say one thing but mean another. This is frustrating for parents. Most teens want your attention, but in a more low key manner.
- Dislike your demonization of social media. Kids hate your lectures about the dangers of the internet. They feel they are smart enough to stay away from sexual predators and cyber bullying.
Teens feel you don’t understand that the internet is a source of support, encouragement, fun. It’s the only place they can truly be themselves. The challenge is to avoid ridiculing their world, while still helping them be responsible digital citizens.