Do You Really Know What Your Teen Is Thinking?

Jan 30, 2015

Credit chiesADIbeinasco / Creative Commons

It’s not easy being a teenager today. Teens need to do well in school, give back to the community, participate in extracurricular activities, and keep up with a social scene intensified by social media. We also ask them to act responsibly, make good choices, and think about their future.

We're looking for "adult behavior" from people forced to live under our rules. It's a tough balancing act that comes with a lot of pressure.  

Sometimes, their friends are looking for something different and peer pressure can lead to bad decisions and risky behaviors.

It may not sound like they have to deal with much -- but that’s part of the problem. Adults have a tendency to underestimate what teens feel, and how powerfully they feel it.

And if kids have friends, don’t get in trouble, and get pretty good grades, parents and teachers don’t always notice the kids struggling to cope with emotions hidden beneath the surface.

The World Health Organization says depression is the most common cause of illness and disability for teens between 10 and 19 years old and suicide is the third most common cause of death in adolescents...just behind traffic accidents.

The problem is that we don’t often see it. And, let's face it - teens don’t always want to talk to adults. They think we minimize their problems, don’t always take them seriously, or are sometimes just too busy to help.

Connecticut teacher and author Cindy Rodriguez joins us to talk about her debut novel, When Reason Breaks, a story about two troubled teens navigating the turbulence of family, school, and sexual relationships.  She got us wondering what it's like to be  a teen today.

This hour, we talk to teens about what it’s like to be a teen. You can join the conversation. Leave your comments below, email us at wherewelive@wnpr.org, find us on Facebook, or tweet us @wherewelive.

John Dankosky is the host of Where We Live. Chion Wolf and Tucker Ives contributed to today's show.

Maria Rodriguez helped make cookies for the show. Thank you, Maria!

You can reach Patricia Graham at the Institute of Living Family Resource Center here 


  • Cindy Rodriguez is a middle school reading specialist and the author of "When Reason Breaks"
  • Debra Dean-Ciriani is a marriage and family therapist at The Bridge Family Center
  • Shamoya Hanson is a student at Journalism and Media Academy satellite campus at the CPBN Learning Lab
  • Vi’Quan Herring is a student at Journalism and Media Academy satellite campus at the CPBN Learning Lab
  • Olivia Smith is a student at Classical Magnet in Hartford
  • Corinne King is a student at Farmington High School

This show was made possible in part by support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's American Graduate: Let's Make it Happen initiative.