What do teenagers really need?

I received this note the other day from a student, she was writing in response to what topic she wanted to do for her research paper.

“I want to research Privacy for Teenagers, because I think giving privacy to them can cause some bad actions when you’re giving them to much privacy then that’s whey sneaking around and getting influenced comes along. I think that every teenager should yes have privacy but not in the way the parents now are giving it to him or her. I know from experience. My parents aren’t strict and I get away with a lot and if I had stricter parents I feel like I would be a way better kid. Also I want to research about this for parents whose children ask for privacy and need some answers on why it’s actually a good thing and they will most likely thank you in the future.

This of course reminded me of a conversation I had with a student many years ago.  He was always getting into trouble but was really good for me.  I pulled him aside and asked him why he was misbehaving in all of his other classes, but not for me.  He looks at me for a minute and then replies after thinking, do you really want the truth?  Of course I do, why else would I have asked you.  His answer was profound, I want my dad to tell me NO.  I want him to take an interest and care that I am making the right choices.

If only other parents and teachers could hear these two students and others like them.  Yes, our kids really want and need their parents in their lives.  I know that at times I am guilty of giving in when I shouldn’t, probably more with my students than my own children, but as adults in charge of helping the next generation become grow up and become productive members of society, lets all ban together and help each other out by giving the kids what they really want and need.