By Elizabeth Fedrick, PhD, LPC

Being a teen is hard. Trying to find time and energy to go to school, get homework done, do chores, work a part-time job, spend time with your friends, and then also start making some big life decisions, is incredibly overwhelming. By this age your parents stop doing as much for you, yet they give you increased expectations and pressure. They expect you to start figuring things out for yourself, yet they still get to tell you what to do and get the final decision. Also, part of this transition is that you are expected to know how to handle difficult situations and start planning for your future, yet are often not prepared with tools and resources needed to navigate these hard times on your own. In these instances, it would be really nice to have the support and guidance of someone who has been a teen before and someone who might be able to help you figure out some of these dilemmas.

Some pretty significant topics that teens frequently struggle with, but might not have the necessary supports in place for, include:

  • Increased expectations: The list of responsibilities that teens face is very long and can be highly stressful. You are often thrown into these new expectations without having the necessary help to plan or structure your days or to learn how to balance all of these tasks.
  • Relationships: Learning to effectively communicate and appropriately express yourself to others is not something that just comes naturally. It can be hard to know the best decisions to make to have healthy relationships, and it can also be difficult to assess when relationships might not be the best for you.
  • Setting boundaries: One aspect of healthy relationships is knowing how to say “no” to things you don’t like or don’t feel comfortable with. Telling your friends or significant other “no” is not very easy and takes a lot of practice. Having someone to give you ideas on how to do this, as well as someone to support you if it doesn’t go well, is incredibly helpful.
  • Future planning: the expectation that society places on teens to make decisions about the future at such a young age is quite frankly, really unfair. All of the decisions that have to be made in high school, that will then impact college, and ultimately impact your future career can feel so daunting. Having someone to help you navigate these decisions, help you research the best options, and guide you through this process is much needed during this time.

These are just some of the difficult and confusing issues that teens face on a daily basis. There are so many others that are unique to each teen’s personal experience. One thing that would really help with these stressors is to have someone to talk to. This could be your parent, another relative, or maybe even getting support from a counselor. Parents are often a great place to start, as they are usually easier to access than the other options, and also love you a lot and want you to succeed.

While the thought of going to your parents to ask for support might not sound ideal, it might actually be really helpful and beneficial. If you decide to seek their support, consider asking them ahead of time to schedule some time to talk so that they aren’t distracted or rushed. Also, be willing to tell them specifically what you are needing from them, such as, needing them to listen and provide support or do you need guidance and advice. Finally, be careful not to be combative with the support and ideas that they offer. Sometimes it feels like they just don’t get it or are being critical with their suggestions, and that can feel really annoying. However, parents are usually doing their best to help you do your best. In these situations, communication is key. Let them know how they can best support you because the teen years are not easy!


Dr. Elizabeth Fedrick is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owns a private practice, Evolve Counseling, in Gilbert, Arizona. She specializes in various areas, including depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship issues, and personal improvement. In addition to providing therapeutic services, Elizabeth also teaches Behavioral Health courses for Grand Canyon University.