Saturday, June 16, 2007

Adolescent Self-Disclosure

The very thing we think adolescents would dread doing is the very thing that keeps them safe. That thing is self-disclosure to their parents.

However, the conditions need to be right. Adolescent self-disclosure is precious flower which will bloom, wants to bloom, but only under the right conditions.

Parents who think they have some sort of right to have their adolescents disclose their lives to them at the parent's whim are very wrong-headed about their relationship with their teen. Controling a teen's self-disclosure is only going to result in the teen feeling controlled - and probably resorting to decpetion or stonewalling.

No, the considitons need to be just right.

My question to you:

What are the conditions under which an adolescent would willingly volunteer sensitive information to his or her parents?


Nancy said...

On two different occasions, parents of teens have told me that they felt that their child actually needed them to be home during the teen years than when they were babies. One said that the usual drill was to come home from school and lock themselves into their bedroom for about an hour, then venture out to seek her out to talk about their day (and usually, what went wrong in it).

Another thing that comes to mind is the recent research that has been done showing that a habit of regular family meals is implicated in lowered drug use, higher grades, and lower depression in teens. See

You just gotta be there on a regular basis and provide some blank space for conversation.

Matt said...

It is important for teens to learn boundaries. They should not be willing to share everything with just anyone. That kind of information is reserved for people who they have developed a close relationship with and have proven that they can deal with that information appropriately.

Tiana said...

First off let me say that I am basing my opinion regarding the conditions of adolescent self disclosure on a couple of assumptions which I will first outline. The first assumption is that children who are not involved in questionable activities as adolescents do not feel the same hesitation in self disclosure as their peers who are engaged in such activities. This is true because the "good adolescent has nothing to lose in disclosing their good behavior. They infact have only positive reinforcement from adults who praise their wisdom in refraining from such questionable behavior. And what child does not relish in parental praise?

So if the first assumption is that good adolescents do not have a problem with self disclosure so the second assumption is we are talking about an adolescent who is actively praticipating in questionable activities. Now that being said I believe the first condition required for a "problem teen" to in essence rat themselves out is a self acknowledgement that what they are doing is wrong. If they cannot acknowledge what they are doing is wrong then there is nothing yet to disclose. So the first criteria is acknowledgement of wrong doing.

However, this in and of itself is not enough, they must identify that it is wrong and have made the decision to alter their behavior. If a teen has acknowledged that something is wrong and has no desire to change their behavior they will not acknowledge it because they understand that by openingly admitting to doing wrong they are opening themselves to criticism and reprimands. The second criteria is a desire to change problem behavior.

The third and for me final criteria for adolescent self disclosure is a mutual respect and trust between the adolescent and the adult involved. The adolescent has to believe that the adult they are confiding in is not going to abandon them after they have decided to change and will infact support their effort to change.