Teenagers are learning the world around them while trying to fit in social circles. Part of fitting in is what to say, what not to say and who to say it to. This process is a part of growing up and learning socially acceptable behaviors. And they have secrets.
What to tell their parents can be a scary thing for them. They wonder what secrets to spill to them and what to keep quiet about. This can be very stressful along with the social pressures placed upon them.
Teens don't want to be known as the tattletale, but on the same token they can be heavily burdened with secrets. Most teens are unsure of which secret to tell a parent and which secret needs to be kept secret.
Advice for parents listening to secrets
Parents can help teach teens by being open to the teens' conversations. Allowing 'taboo' subjects to be talked about is encouraged, without parental disciplinary actions. Taking an authoritarian role during conversations with teens is not advised as it may stop the teen from being honest and open in the future.
Once teens tell secrets to a parent, it then becomes the parent's responsibility to determine if the secret should be addressed and on what level, if needed.
A teen may not have the mature, cognitive ability to understand the importance of some secrets. It is at this time the parents can guide the teen to which secrets should not be kept secret, as in abuse cases. Anytime a person is in danger, keeping secrets can be illegal. The parent can explain to the teen why certain secrets are dangerous and the legal repercussions of keeping secrets (withholding information).
Research shows teenagers who tell secrets to their parents are better adjusted individuals. One factor contributing to this finding may be the parents' guidance in certain situations. When parents are open to their teens allowing for sensitive conversations, teens can be more receptive to parental guidance and have better outcomes in life.
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