Hot topic: Teenagers and relationships

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Something starts happening on your 13th birthday. Almost as soon as the word "teen" is added to your life, everything starts to change.

You don't notice the change until one day you are slamming the door in your parents' face and yelling something like, "You don't understand me." Only a year ago, your parents could do no wrong. But that was then. That was when you were 12.

The Teen Style staff got together recently and decided to discuss the changes that happen in your relationships between your 13th birthday and the day you graduate high school. They explained the way they see parents, teachers, friends and boys and guessed about how those relationships would continue to change in the future.

"When you are young, your parents are your sole influence," said Kylie Hawes, 15. "When you're little, you want to be just like them, but as you get older, there starts to be tension. You start to fight for your rights."

Part of the changing dynamic between parents and teens, the girls agreed, was the struggle for independence and an identity even though you still are living in their house and eating their food.

"You want to be your own individual," said Josie Pacana, 14.

The tension also comes about because of the generation gap, Hawes said. "Times have changed. The experiences they went through as teens are different than what we are going through."

The change started happening in sixth grade, the girls guessed. Before that age, they wanted to be like their parents, but at that point, they started wanting to be more like their friends.

They also started trying to impress boys.

"In elementary school, you were either friends with guys or they had cooties," said Chrissy Ford, 13. "Now, it's different."

Only the boys aren't mature enough to have actual relationships, the girls said. "They're just obsessed with their cell phones and having picture wars," Pacana said.

Relationships with teachers also have changed. The relationship shifted, the girls said, because of the way the teachers start treating them when they enter middle school. Class starts being about something more serious. Everything is about college and the future.

"Teachers are more about getting down to business," said Sierra Weir, 13. "They are less considerate of your feelings."

"When we were little, we were friends with our teachers," Ford said.

And, finally, your friendships with your peers change.

In elementary school, parents chose most of your friends, Hawes said. You played with the children of your parents' friends.

But in middle school and high school, who you choose for friends has more significance. It can be about being popular, and you learn some hard lessons about your friends as a teenager. You learn that you can't trust many people.

"For instance, you tell someone a secret, and they spread it behind your back," Hawes said. "You learn how important it is to have a good friend to talk to who won't tell everyone what you say.

"When you were a kid, you didn't have secrets."

"There aren't many people you can trust," Pacana said. "I maybe have had two true friends in my life."

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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