Asking for a friend



Specific, gentle questions specifically for teenagers

Specific, gentle questions specifically for teenagers


We recently referred you to “The Hardest Fight to Have With Your Teen”
in which New York Times reporter Jessica Grose offers some very helpful insight and tips for parents wanting to better understand their teens’ unique stresses with the pandemic.

Everyone needs help, especially those wanting to help. Needless to say, there is no precedent for the current situation, and research is ongoing in real time. Grose’s article even offers examples of research conducted in May contrasting with research conducted more recently. It can make your head spin and make you worried you’ll ask the wrong question.

READ MORE: Mental health tips for COVID-era teens

With “What Do You Want Your Parents to Know About What It's Like to Be a Teenager During the Pandemic?” NYT writer Jeremy Engle, takes it one step further and actually offers concise, well-thought-out-questions specifically crafted to ask of teens. Engle, a man with more than 20 years as a classroom humanities and documentary-making teacher, professional developer and curriculum designer working with students and teachers across the country, requests teens read Grose’s article, and then asks them the following questions: 

  • What should parents and the other adults in your life know about what it is like to be a teenager during the coronavirus pandemic? What unique challenges do young people face? What do you wish adults understood about what you’re going through now?

  • How is your relationship with your parents or guardians during this crisis? What conflicts and friction, if any, have you had? For instance, do you ever argue over socializing or safety protocols? What things have your parents and other adults in your life gotten right about your needs and challenges?

  • Lisa Damour, a clinical psychologist and the author of The New York Times’s Adolescence column, says that “pandemic conditions are at cross currents with normal adolescent development.” What do you think she means by that statement? Do you agree that “this is a particularly difficult time to be young”?

  • What is your reaction to the surveys of teenagers cited in the article? Which findings resonate with your own experiences during the pandemic? Do you think that your own mental health and social life are significantly worse than they were pre-pandemic?

  • What do you think of the article’s advice for parents? Do you think that having them say to their teens “Let me try to articulate it from your perspective” would be effective? What recommendations would you give to parents and other adults?

  • If you were a parent of teenagers, how would you approach parenting in a pandemic? What kinds of rules and expectations would you have about socializing and social distancing? What would you do to meet their needs as adolescents.
We hope you’ll do the same. Good luck.



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