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Surprise! Teens Want Time With Parents

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Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 Emily Halevy | CWK Producer

“A child may not, especially a teenager, may not come right out and say ‘mom, dad, I want to spend more time with you.’ But what we’ve seen as far as numbers and research goes, kids do want it and parents may just need to approach the children and say, ‘let’s do something together’.”

– Kindell Schoffner, PsyD, licensed psychologist

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Moody, short-tempered, isolated…all words that are typically used to describe a teen. But according to a survey by ‘Family Circle’, beneath that angst-ridden façade is a kid who is much different than he or she appears.

On appearances, 16-year-old Reid Turner is much like other teens. He plays video games, loves music, spends time by himself.

But there’s something about him that may surprise you.

When asked if he’d like to spend more time with his parents he says, “I think it’d be cool if my parents worked less, just because I’d get to see them more.”

In fact, in a recent survey, 70 percent of teens said they were happy with how much attention they get from their parents.

And nearly a quarter wished they could spend more time together.

Experts say that, to some parents, this number may come as a shock.

“I think sometimes, teenagers’ behavior, how they act, what they do, is different from what they think and feel,” says licensed psychologist Dr. Kindell Schoffner. “And that might throw parents off a little bit.”

She says isolation, mood swings and wanting to spend more time with friends is all a part of growing up, but, “parents take that as, ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with you’, which is not necessarily the case. It’s just that they’re trying, the teenager is trying to find a balance between being independent, but yet still being a part of the family.”

So, how do you get your teen to enjoy spending time with you?

Schoffner says the answer is simple, “Take the teenager’s suggestions – you know, ‘what would you like to do?'”

Reid’s dad Stuart says it takes some compromise, but “we really try and do activities that we all will enjoy. For instance we go to movies a lot together, we try and pick things that we all will enjoy – and we have a very similar taste in things. We watch television together, go to sporting events together, we like the same music, we all cook together.”

Reid says having these common interests definitely helps his relationship with his parents.

“We can all agree on one thing to do and we have fun doing it. Someone isn’t hating it and three other people are liking It – we all like it, and that definitely helps a lot.”

What We Need To Know

  • While nearly a quarter of teen respondents said their parents don’t seem to have enough time to spend with them, the majority of the parents surveyed did not report having struggles with finding enough time to spend with their kids. This disconnect may be the result of parents underestimating the amount of time their kids want and need from adults.
    (Dr. Holly Kreider, Harvard Graduate School of Education)
  • Teens say it’s the simple things -like taking walks, sharing meals, playing games, watching TV and talking more with each other – that they most want to do more of with their parents.
    (Opinion Research Corporation)
  • Use time together as an opportunity to talk about what’s going on in your teen’s life, how their day was and what they want for their future.
    (Dr. Nancy McGarrah, psychologist)
  • Spending time with your children is essential to their development. Parents are the best source of education for their children. Make sure they’re getting their information from you – and not the TV or other teens.
    (Dr. Kindell Schoffner, licensed psychologist)


  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Georgia Psychological Association

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