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Cover image via LDS Media Library.

“You just don’t understand.”

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you’ve probably heard this phrase more than a few times. You’ve probably felt frustrated when your attempts to connect with your children have seemed only to drive them away. But teenagers can also experience frustration when they try to communicate with their parents. They may feel as though they are alone in their struggles or that they have failed to measure up.

What do Latter-day Saint youth really wish their parents knew about what it’s like to be a teenager today? Based on teens’ responses to this question, three major themes capture their most common concerns:

  • Fearing that they will be misunderstood
  • Feeling confused about standards (especially when it comes to dating)
  • Dealing with pressure to meet overwhelmingly high expectations

As President Russell M. Nelson said in a worldwide devotional, the rising generation is the hope of Israel: “Heavenly Father has reserved many of His most noble spirits—perhaps, I might say, His finest team—for this final phase. Those noble spirits—those finest players, those heroes—are you!”1 Young men and young women truly have the capacity to change the world in incredible ways, both small and great.

So, how can parents help youth attain their full potential as they navigate the frustrations and fears of adolescence?

1. Fear of Being Misunderstood

Think back to when you were a teenager. Chances are, you thought your parents’ generation was completely unfamiliar with the challenges yours had to face. The same is true of teens today. For example, John S., a young man from Michigan, USA, said, “I think it’s important that parents understand how much technology has changed social life. Honestly, there’s not all that much face-to-face conversation unless you’re actually at school. Once you go home, it’s almost expected of you that you’re talking with people all the time [using technology].” Technology has changed the social landscape of the world. Youth today navigate various social media platforms, entertainment channels, and sources of information available at their fingertips in an instant. They feel that parents do not understand either the challenges or the blessings of communication in the digital age.

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