How to Deal – Q & A with Dr. Karyn

Dr. Karyn Gordon is an indispensable resource for Canadian teens (that’s YOU) who want to understand the world around them (the mark of a true vervegirl). She’s an author, motivational speaker, radio and TV host, and now contributor in each and every issue of vervegirl magazine.
    Having spoken to more than 185,000 teens, parents, counsellors and marketers across North America, Dr. Karyn knows the issues inside and out. From how to handle a bully to how to get a job, she’ll answer your questions, so send ’em in to drkaryn@youthculture.com.

Anxiety over best friends and parents

Q: My family is really bugging me! I mean, they’re so lame and they always want me to spend time with them. My parents always want to know what I’m doing and where I’m going, but I’m 16 years old and I don’t feel like I need to tell them everything. Most of the time, they ask me so many questions that I just want to go up to my room and stay there! What can I say to make them leave me alone?
A: I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that you’ve actually got parents who care. Before you write me off, let me say that I work with hundreds of teens and, trust me, not all parents really care about their teens. So just to give you another perspective, you’ve got parents who love you and want to spend time with you. The bad news is that, for whatever reason, you don’t want to spend time with them. My question for you: what are they doing that makes you want to avoid them? Obviously, I wouldn’t expect teens to want to hang out with their parents on a Friday or Saturday night, but what about a Sunday night? What are their annoying habits? Do they talk too much? Ask too many questions? Are they too critical? Boring? Figure out what is it about them you don’t like and have the courage to voice it to them in an assertive way. And try to compromise while you do it. Something like, “Mom, I can go out with you on Sunday (not Friday), but can you tone down the questions?” or “Can you try to be more positive with me?” Once you figure out what you need from your parents, voice it. Trust me, it will make your life and theirs much better!

Q: Lately my best friend has been leaving me out of things because she met a whole bunch of new kids at a party and they drink and I don’t. I’m worried that my friend is going to wind up in trouble with all this drinking. I’m sad that she’s abandoned our friendship but my worry is greater than my sadness, I want to tell her parents but I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do. What do you think?
A: This is a touchy situation. You’ve probably heard the cliché, “Friends are a mirror of ourselves.” This means that we’re often attracted to friends who have values and goals similar to ours. If I skip school, smoke pot and drink
a lot, chances are I’ll find friends who also do those things. If I’m ambitious, chances are I’ll find friends who share my values. The fact that your best friend has found “new friends” and is leaving you out doesn’t surprise me at all. Her values are changing from yours and obviously she knows you won’t approve so she’s not going to include you. My suggestion is to voice your concerns to her (you probably already have), but it will be important for you to respect her decision (this does not mean you agree with it). Despite your differences you might be able to keep your friendship, but the only way to
do that is to respect your differences. As for telling her parents, the only time I think it’s important to break confidentiality is when you think someone is in danger. If you ever feel that knowing too much information is a burden,
I recommend you tell an adult that you trust.