Parents and teens react to scenes about vulnerability

Teens may be reluctant to share with their parents details of what’s really going on with them because they are too scared or embarrassed to tell other people the whole story. Sharing in this way makes them feel exposed and vulnerable. As teens grow up and become adults, they look for a relationship with their parents that’s based on mutual understanding. Teens often tell us that when their parents reveal their own feelings of vulnerability in a considerate way, it helps them to feel comfortable about sharing things with them in return.

We asked eight parents and teens to watch a classic scene from the movie Good Will Hunting that is about using vulnerability as a communication tool. They told us why they felt this approach works so well and how it might be useful in their own life.

Read the transcript.

Here are some things we learnt

  • Parents typically have an instructive or guiding role in their teen’s life, so sometimes they may be reluctant to reveal their vulnerability to their teen by sharing their own experiences. However, when parents share that they have been through similar things in their life, this can reassure their teen that their parent understands what they are going through. This willingness on your part to appear vulnerable can strengthen the trust between you and your teenager.

  • Parents may find it hard to share details of times when they, too, made risky or poor choices because they may be afraid their child will think less of them or lose respect for them. However, teens often have these same fears about being judged. As a parent, if you’re able to take that first step, you can help your teen realise that they are not alone in their challenges.

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