5 Important Things Kids Wish Their Parents Knew

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There are five important things kids wish their parents knew about them. Well, there may be more than five, but these are the five big ones you should pay attention to as a parent.

You may wonder how I am so privy to this information. Perhaps you think it is something I read or heard about on the news. No. I came by it first hand. I am a substitute teacher so I speak with kids on a regular basis. Oh, and I live with one…that definitely counts!

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Teen legs showing. 5 Important Things Kids Wish Their Parents Knew

Today, I asked kids ages 13-years-old to 18-years-old (8th-12th grade) what they would tell their parents if they could say anything to them that they wanted. Most of the kids couldn’t believe I would ask such a question. They were suspicious at first. But, eventually, they warmed up to me.

In fact, once we started talking, they couldn’t shut up. They had lots to say!

In this post, I am going to tell you what kids wish their parents knew. You will be shocked and surprised by their answers. 

RELATED: The Ultimate Secret to Change Your Teen’s Attitude

Five Important Things Kids Wish Their Parents Knew

1. Technology.

Kids wish their parents knew how difficult it is to navigate technology (social media) on a daily basis. The technology now is totally different compared to the last generation

The students didn’t think we, the parents, understood the stress it was causing them socially since we didn’t experience it ourselves as a teen. Most of the kids I talked to were in agreement that they spend way too much time online worrying about what other people are doing and saying about them.

Sadly, they ALL felt anxiety about not being included in the latest social gathering posted online. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was a term they used quite a bit.

At times, they said they felt they did not measure up to the people they followed because, in their minds, they were not as smart, not as rich, or not as pretty/handsome as everyone else.

I found it interesting that even though the kids knew the pictures on social media were strategically taken, doctored, or just fake, their brain still processed all the images as reality. Tragically, all of this is affecting them in a negative way.

Almost everyone said they had dealt with some sort of depression due to social media either by comparing themselves to others or being bullied.

One person said parents didn’t understand what it was like to be bullied online. The shame and humiliation were beyond anything we could possibly comprehend.

We Do Understand

As a parent, I think we do understand to some extent what is going on with social media. In fact, many of us have tried to restrict it and set firm boundaries. Unfortunately, it is a constant fight in most households to put the cell phone away. I know it has been that way in my home.

Many parents see how it is slowly poisoning their kids, sabotaging their self-esteem, and taking precious study time away from their child.

Needless to say, this is a huge problem.

Related: Teens and Cell Phones: Child Development Study

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

You can find Estranged on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

2. Competition.

Kids wish their parents knew how hard it is to carry the burden of performance and competition day after day. The competition academically as well as athletically is harder than the last generation

Unfortunately, the students felt their parents were putting an excessive amount of pressure on them to perform in high school and not letting them be a kid. There was a consensus among them that they have larger workloads and have more pressure than we had 25-30 years ago.

One student said she felt like her parents put grades before her mental health. She described the feeling of being trapped in a world she didn’t like nor one she created. All of the students said they wanted to be good students, but the pressure was intense. Sadly, there is a weight on them that is heavy and some days seem unbearable.

Most of the students just wanted their parents to acknowledge the amount of work they do and to encourage them instead of being angry with them when they received a low grade. Every student did agree a zero was unacceptable, and hard work is important.

RELATED: How to Pray for Your Kids in Your War Room

3. Double standards.

Kids wish their parents knew how frustrating it is to have a double standard. What they meant by “double standard” was their parents didn’t always practice what they preached. One student said, “ I will not trust an adult who can’t apologize to a kid.”

That really got my attention. This is where the discussion became heated. Suddenly, everyone had an opinion.


The students were angry they had to apologize to their parents when in the wrong, but parents didn’t apologize back to them.

Kids know when we as parents behave badly (yell, call names, retaliate, threaten, manipulate), but see it as a double standard when we won’t admit our own faults to them and take ownership of our bad behavior.

Sadly, many parents see apologizing to their child as weak or they simply have too much pride to admit when wrong.

I agree with the students.

Parents DO need to apologize when wrong. It’s a great opportunity to show humility, character, and strength as a person. Not apologizing for bad behavior is just more bad behavior.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” 

RELATED: Should You Apologize to Your Child? 5 Things Happen When You Don’t

Cell Phone 

The students were also pretty vocal about their parents answering their cell phones. (This complaint surprised me. I didn’t realize how irritated they were about this.)

They felt they had to answer the phone when their parents called, but parents ignored their calls. I’m not sure who’s ignoring their calls. I think they don’t realize we have a life and aren’t always able to answer. Kinda like them!

Most believed we should not ask them to do something we aren’t willing to do ourselves. I think that is a pretty legitimate request.

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5 Things Kids Wished Their Parents Knew

4. Listen.

Kids wish their parents knew how to listen. Listen to who they are, what they believe, and how they think. Even though they are young, they are still thinking about their world. Dr. Dobson gives some great tools for listening to your teen if you struggle in this area.

Mostly, they said they wanted us not to overreact if they had a different belief system. I think they were trying to express the fact they are growing and changing. Their opinions are evolving as they get more information and experience life.

As a parent, I can see how we tend to not take our teen seriously or overreact. Even though they are older, we see them as young because they still do some childish things. (tantrums, pouting, whining, giggling) It is easy to discount the fact they are capable of stringing some intelligent sentences together.

I think maybe what my students were trying to verbalize is we need to realize they are transitioning between two worlds. The world of Sponge Bob and the world of CNN. (SB and CNN may be more alike than we think.) Often, these worlds collide in a day, and it can get a little messy.

They might be doing Calculus at 10 am and by 2 pm they are having a crying fit. Sometimes they just need an ear to listen to them about whatever is swirling in their brain. And for us to love them no matter how silly or crazy their feelings are at the time.

RELATED: Teacher Secrets to Help Get to Your Child’s Heart

5.  Grateful.

Kids wish their parents knew how grateful they are for all the things they have been given. They know their parents have sacrificed financially for them in many ways so they would have the opportunity to do something great.

The Seniors were especially thankful their parents had made them study, volunteer, take part in a sport, and invest time in their spiritual life. I found it rewarding the Seniors are starting to see the big picture and understanding why they had to do certain things.

It was heartwarming they thought their mom and dads were actually pretty awesome for loving them enough to make them do the hard things in life.

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5 things teens wish their parents knew pin with teen looking at phone. She is sitting at a table with a latte.

Being a Kid Today

In conclusion, I would say being a kid today is hard. There are so many social, academic, and athletic pressures to juggle on any given day. On the other hand, they have more access to knowledge and education than at any other time period in history.

My hope is they will navigate through the land mines of youth and focus on the opportunities given to them to be successful. The teachers and parents have done a fantastic job empowering them to be great leaders someday. Most of all, they are grateful for what they have been given.

This was the greatest thing I learned from them today. Gratitude. Our kids are truly grateful for what they have been given and the sacrifices we have made for them. This should give us hope that we are doing some things right.

Related: How to Raise a Smart Child Who is Wise


Do You Have Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!

Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

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Creating Family Memories Book

Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

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Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.

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Julie Plagens


  1. Emily A. Sullivan on June 11, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    This is so good! I’ve actually been thinking for awhile that I need to ask my teen students (I teach dance and music) about what they want adults to know about being a teen today. I have a strong desire to write for teen girls and this post has given me some areas to speak into!

    • Julie Plagens on June 13, 2019 at 12:02 am

      Emily, I am so glad you are going to start a conversation with your teen students. And how awesome that you want to start writing. Best wishes on both endeavors. Teens definitely have a lot to say if we will listen!

  2. Susan Evans on June 11, 2019 at 9:56 am

    I remember one time as a teen, when my dad apologized to me. It changed the way I saw him, and I had even more respect for him. Parents need to emulate what they want to see in their kids.

    • Julie Plagens on June 11, 2019 at 12:24 pm

      Susan, that is so great. I am glad he had the character to do this. I don’t think parents realize that kids respect them more when they apologize and own up to their mistakes. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Lisa K on August 19, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    Excellent article Julie!! I wish parents would read this so their eyes can be open to the real life struggles of teens these days. And I totally agree with you about Sponge Bob and CNN. Sponge Bob has more redeeming qualities. Haha!

    • Julie Plagens on March 23, 2019 at 2:59 pm

      Lisa, thanks. That is so true. I love SB!

  4. Hayley on May 29, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    Wow, this is really eye opening. It’s so interesting to know that teens actually know how toxic and addictive their phones and social media are. I was in high school when kids were just starting to get their own cell phones, and I didn’t have one myself until I started college. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to go through high school with the social media craziness that exists today.

    • Julie Plagens on June 9, 2018 at 11:00 am

      Hayley, yes, they all admitted it was addictive. Unfortunately, they go back to it time and time again even though they know it is slowly poisoning them. I think they will have to learn some self-control and maturity to realize that there is more to life than social media. The next best party, purse, or latest outfit is not the most important thing.
      Thank you for your comments.

  5. Jordan on May 29, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    A very interesting read. Our kids are still very little, but it’s never too early to start implementing some of these. Especially apologizing – this has been huge with our daughter. It’s a lot easier for her to say sorry when she unintentionally hurts someone if she has seen mommy and daddy say sorry when we accidentally bump her head putting her in the car, etc. Even though it was an accident, we explain we are sorry that what we did hurt her. Thank you for sharing the insight!

    • Julie Plagens on June 9, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Jordan, such a good example and so simple. Modeling good behavior is the best teaching tool. Kids do what you do, not what you say. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Eco Friendly Mama on May 29, 2018 at 10:39 am

    I don’t have teens…yet…so this is a very helpful peek into the future and a good reminder to stay engaged with our kids even though they may seem to have become capable of taking care of themselves. Thanks for the head’s up.

    • Julie Plagens on June 9, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Every teen is a little different. Just when you think you have them figured out, they change the rules. It keeps you guessing all the time, and praying constantly. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Blyss Your Heart on May 29, 2018 at 7:15 am

    This is really great. I can’t imagine having to keep up with it all as a teenager these days but I do have 2 boys coming up so I need to remember this when they are teenagers!

    • Julie Plagens on June 9, 2018 at 11:05 am

      You will be equipped when the time comes. What you don’t know you can read and talk to others. Most of all, I suggest praying. A LOT!
      Thanks for your comment.

  8. Jeff Honeywood on April 12, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    I think “Listen” is the most important one. I think adults discount a lot of things teens go through like they aren’t real problems, but those problems are incredibly important to those teens. Sure, they’ll outlive those problems and move on, but in the moment those problems are as important as any problem any adult may have.

    • Julie Plagens on June 9, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Jeff, you are so right! Listening is one of the best things you can do. Thanks for your comment.

  9. Indrani on April 11, 2018 at 12:29 am

    This social media has ruined the happiness of several teenagers.
    I can understand their feelings.

    • Julie Plagens on April 11, 2018 at 6:45 am

      I’d say millions. Kids typically get depressed when they compare themselves to others. It’s just too much for them to know about everything they missed. Ignorance is bliss.

  10. Daisy on April 10, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    Being a teenager today is certainly worlds different than it was for me back in the early 90s… so much has changed and evolved…

    • Julie Plagens on April 11, 2018 at 6:47 am

      I think the kids of this generation will have stricter rules about social media. They will know how badly it effects kids minds. Thanks for reading.

  11. Emily on April 10, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    I feel about phone calls. I have family members that never answer the phone but freak if I don’t answer mine!

    • Julie Plagens on April 11, 2018 at 6:47 am

      Ugh. That’s a bummer. Thanks for reading.

  12. Lara Tubosun on March 17, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Honestly, this is one of my best reads today. Many parents behave as if they dropped from heaven at thieir present age forgetting that they were once teenagers. I am definitely sharing this with friends. Thank you for the enlightenment.

    • Julie Plagens on March 23, 2018 at 10:49 pm

      I am so glad you enjoyed this post. Your comment means a lot to me. I am so sorry I didn’t see this until today.
      Parents do need to remember they were once teens. I think it’s even harder now than when I was young.

  13. Kristin Cook on February 7, 2018 at 1:56 am

    YES!!!!!! The whole cell-phone thing is so true! We cannot expect teens to put down their phones if we won’t do it!

    • Julie Plagens on February 8, 2018 at 11:26 pm

      Oh, so true! We have no phones at the table. We talk! Thanks for reading.

  14. Wendy Tomlinson on February 6, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    This is a brilliant post. Learning to listen to my teen rather than instantly trying to jump in and give advice has been a challenge for me but something I constantly work on. I feel very blessed that I am involved in social media on a daily basis and can understand what teens go through online. I think parents who don’t understand the online world do really struggle.

    • Julie Plagens on February 7, 2018 at 1:57 am

      I’m so glad you read this. I was kinda surprised , too. Their world really is different than ours was.

  15. Ginger on February 6, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Very sightful – I am pinning this one for sure! Thank you for sharing!

  16. Keri on February 6, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    You give great insight into the teen mind. I would agree that it is very important to admit when mistakes are made and apologize for them for both parents and teens.

  17. peter @feedyoursoultoo on January 22, 2018 at 1:30 am

    This post is so right on. I hope a lot of people see this – the information is really important.

    • Julie Plagens on January 22, 2018 at 1:58 am

      Thank you so much. I really appreciate the feedback.

    • Julie Plagens on February 7, 2018 at 1:58 am

      I appreciate you saying this. Thanks for reading.

  18. rakhiparsai11984 on January 18, 2018 at 10:09 am

    I can so relate to this post. Having a niece who is a teenager and she actually has confessed some of these things. Very important post for parents of teenager.

    • Julie Plagens on January 22, 2018 at 2:00 am

      Thank you for letting me know. I’m glad you validate this!

  19. mapsandmonograms on January 15, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Every generation goes through it’s own challenges. I’m pretty sure you nailed this generations. I guess I never really sat down to think about it (we’re not at that stage yet!). Excellent insight.

    • Julie Plagens on January 22, 2018 at 2:01 am

      It’s definitely a big difference from the last generation. Thanks for reading!

  20. Becki Svare on January 15, 2018 at 12:31 am

    This is a great article! As a mom of two teens, I appreciate this!

  21. MyVeteranWoman on January 14, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    I think kids have it both better and worse that we did – just like we had it better (and worse) than our parents. With each new generation comes advances in technology, but also the advances of issues that come with the technology.

    • Julie Plagens on January 15, 2018 at 12:55 pm

      Yes, isn’t that true. With advances come drawbacks.

  22. Asiya on January 14, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I think technology has taken over tbh

    • Julie Plagens on January 15, 2018 at 12:56 pm

      Yes. It is here to stay. It’s all about managing it.

  23. mendozasofia on January 14, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Great article! I know, teens today definitely have it rough in a lot of ways my generation didn’t. Great perspective. Thanks for sharing.

    • Julie Plagens on January 15, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      Yes, teens do have it harder in some ways. We just have to help them navigate it.

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