Having a teenager is just great isn’t it? No matter what you do, you may feel like you’re doing the wrong thing, or saying the wrong thing, or embarrassing them simply by doing nothing. It’s a challenge, it really is.
Your child is no longer cute, hanging onto your every word…or clinging to your leg. Now that they’re teenagers, they’re always trying to spread their wings, become an individual and feel more independent.
It’s tough to witness, and a hard transition to make for the both of you, but you need to respect their privacy and give them room to grow.
What you may have found is that now that your child is growing into a young adult, they’re starting to keep secrets from you, which can be challenging. So, let’s take a look at 10 secrets your teen may be keeping from you and what you can do about it.
10 Secrets Your Teenager May Be Keeping From You
- They’ve gotten a bad grade
- They have a partner or are in a relationship
- They are being bullied
- They are struggling with their sexuality
- They are confused about sex
- They’re smoking/drinking
- They have used your credit card
- They skipped school
- Lied about something e.g. pretended to stay at a friend’s house & haven’t
- They’ve done something they shouldn’t have e.g. watched pornography
What To Do When Your Teen Is Keeping Secrets
Teenagers and secrecy can make you feel uncomfortable. They’re your kid, and you want to know what’s going on in their lives constantly.
However, as your teen grows up, they want to feel a sense of self, and come up with their own problems and solutions to feel more like an adult and be treated as their own person.
Teens often keep secrets because they want to develop a sense of self identity, and withholding certain information allows them to deal with their own issues by themselves, without their parents advice, input or help.
On the other hand, teens may withhold information because they are fearful of what you may say, or how you may react. They may be worried about judgment, which is why it is so important that you allow an open, non consequential space for them to share.
Now, you may not react badly, but this could be a real fear for them as they don’t know how you’re going to react to the secret reveal.
Wanting privacy is normal, and should be encouraged. It is not something to force out of them, as this can only cause a divide between you. You both need healthy boundaries, and withholding information is vital in this.
Secrets are not a taboo subject. There should be things that your teenager doesn’t know about you, and perhaps some things that they do not want you to know. It is important that any individual is able to share their deepest secrets when they are ready.
It is not okay to go through their phones, look through their rooms, diaries or personal belongings as this is a major invasion of privacy. You wouldn’t want the same done to you.
Instead, if you are concerned about something, let them know. Ask calmly and in a collected manner.
You could say ‘I’m concerned about…if you want to talk about it, you can with no judgment.’ and ask them to think about it, and consider if they are ready to share this with you. Don’t be forceful.
Teenagers need to make mistakes, they may share too little information with you, or share too much with friends and on social media. But, this process helps them learn and mature into adults, and can teach them how to form healthy relationships with others.
Tips For Communicating With Your Teenager
If your teenager is keeping secrets from you, it can be frustrating and worrying. You may fear the worst, or become angry that you’re being shut out from their lives. However, this is a phase…it’s not the end of your relationship.
They will need you again, we promise. They’ll always need you, but they also need their space and boundaries to ensure they do not feel suffocated, and they have room to become their own person.
To help you communicate with your teenager, we have some tips:
- Don’t talk until you’re both calm. Discuss things when you feel relaxed and you have created an open, judgment free space
- Ask honest questions
- Try to understand them, even when you don’t agree or comprehend it. Letting them know that you’re there for them no matter what can make it easier for them to open up to you more in the future.
- Let them make mistakes. Don’t berate them. The likelihood is that they didn’t want to tell you because they feel ashamed, or don’t want to disappoint you. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. As long as they learn from them, it’s okay for them to happen.
- Don’t get too emotional. This is so important. Don’t yell or cry or shout out of anger and frustration, as they will shut right back down again. This is not about you, so don’t take things personally. If they’ve made a poor choice, guide them to make better choices in future, and teach them problem solving skills.
Adolescence is hard on the teenager, and you, the parent. However, it is one of the most difficult parts in a child’s life because the most important developmental tasks require you to give them privacy and they need to take risks.
We know…you want to protect them from harm and you don’t want them to take risks at a young age, but this is vital in forming an identity separate from their parents, friends and family.
Keeping secrets is an essential way that teenagers learn to make their own mistakes, and come to their own conclusions and decisions in order to grow and thrive.