What Do You Need to Speak and Feel Heard?

Maybe I'm just being optimistic, but lately I feel like I have been noticing more people who really want to hear and know what young people think. Not who want to assume, presume, project or decide what you think, but who actually want to ask you and hear what you have to say about yourselves for yourselves.

If I'm not delusional in noticing this (always a possibility), I don't have to tell you this is obviously very good news.

One of the common complaints we hear a lot at Scarleteen from young people is how often you have to put up with older adults out and about in the world saying things about you that you don't think are true, or making broad generalizations about all teens or twentysomethings that don't accurately represent the vast diversity among you. And that last thing you need me to tel you is that that can be particularly problematic when it comes to talk that has anything to do with sex or sexuality.

Of course, one of the challenges when adults ask to hear what you have to say is actually having that conversation (which involves earnestly stepping up on your part, but also involves older people stepping up to pay attention when you do speak out), finding places to truly be heard and feeling able to really and safely speak your truth.

So, in the interest of hopefully helping grease the wheels so that you can be heard not only more, but really heard well, I want to put a couple questions out to you, in a place where older adults can read the answers.

In the comments on this post, can you -- you, teens and twentysomethings, not older adults -- talk about what you want and need when it comes to open, safe space for you to be able to talk about yourself and your realities, particularly outside youth-oriented spaces like Scarleteen and other places like it? What do you need older adults to do? How do you need them to respond (or keep from responding)? What makes you feel emotionally safe and respected? What helps keep you from feeling patronized? What do you need as far as trust goes to say what's your for-real and be assured it won't be used against you or misrepresented?

Seriously, the ears of some older people are burning. Fill'em in.


I REALLY like this because i do think that adults can be VERY judgemental to younger adults and teens because they are all older and "mature" to think that they are above us when i know most of them have done just about the same we have. I would like adults to not be so quick to critize and not think that what they say and their opinions are facts... See More because they lived life much longer than us when sometimes they really dont know everything or give advice. I wish my parents could actually see this because they can be very harsh and judgemental based on things me and my sister do and out mistakes. I really like what scarleteen do for teens because the adults on this site are really good to talk to if you ever had a personal question or just need advice because they are open minded and dont push their beliefs off on anyone.

We're asking young people what their concerns are ... because we want to take the REAL issues teens face into account as we work on legislative proposals for our 2011 session. A lot of statistics get thrown around, but we're trying to dig deeper.

We're asking young people to speak out through workshops and surveys: nvwomenshealth.org

And we'll check back here too. Great idea!

my advice for parents is to listen to your kid and try to get to know them as a person in general - don't just talk to them when you want them to do something or not something or when you want to tell them something. we children won't open up to you if the relationship isn't there (i'm speaking from experience unfornately).

also, if you find yourself criticizing or lecturing your child more than you speaking normally to your child, try offering your opinion while leaving the decision up to them (older kids only of course). they'll respect and listen to you more.

As an older person I can say that my parents let me make *some* decisions about my own life as young as 4 and some really important decisions (where to go to school) were entirely my own by 10 -- with them giving me *lots* of information and advice first, obviously. It really makes a difference for your parents to respect you as a person with your own preferences and choices. None of my friends' parents did, at least not until their kids were much older.

It worked out fine. When I wasn't ready to make my own decision I would tell my parents that they could decide for me.

I really appreciate hearing absolutely no shock or surprise in your voices when I tell you I'm engaged to a woman, when I tell you I'm sexually active, when I ask for advice.

That's probably the best thing.

well i have 2 go 2 websites when i have 1uestions or am confused because my mom never has time for me 2 talk.its the only way i get info but i dont always like going 2 websites for info, because they like never have the answer 2 the questions u have.parents and adults have no idea how hard it is 2 be a teen in these times, i think it is great that they finally want 2 listen