News & Politics

Secret Life of Teens: Teens on Family

Kids From Nearly 50 High Schools Told Us What They Won’t Tell You.

Editor’s Note: To protect the kids’ confidentiality, pseudonyms and photographs of models have been used.

Portraits of Mom and Dad

“One of the greatest things about being this age is that when you go out to a restaurant, you can allow your parents to be drunk because you can drive home. That’s my favorite thing to do.”

—Cara, 18,Wootton High, Rockville

“I’ve played beer pong with parents.”

—Kim, 17, Seneca Valley High, Germantown

“My parents have a good marriage. They go everywhere together. When they pick me up, they’re both there. It’s really annoying.”

—Lindsay, Archbishop Spalding High, Severn

“I don’t want to get divorced. I think about that all the time. When I get married, it’s going to be forever.

“I still remember my dad leaving for a year and then coming back. I remember sitting in that chair waiting for his car to pull up. It was terrible. My parents’ excuse is ‘We grew apart.’ I think they should have tried harder. I still wish my parents would get back together, but it’s never going to happen.

“I worry about my dad. He’s not the world’s best eater. He does have a girlfriend, but what happens when that dies? He’s going to be all by himself, and he’s already had one heart attack.

“No matter how much I want to be a mother to my dad, I can’t be there to tell him, ‘That’s enough peanut-butter crackers.’ ”

—Name and school withheld

“I don’t know why my mom calls me a slut. I don’t think she likes me very much.”

—Name and school withheld

“ ‘How’s school?’

“ ‘Same old.’

“That’s the conversation every day. Five minutes, tops. My parents never engage me, but at the same time, I never engage them.”

—Jason, 17, Paul VI Catholic, Fairfax

“My mom has sent me e-mails with information about drinking and smoking pot. Sometimes my parents don’t believe that what they’re telling me is actually getting to me. But I think it is.”

—Andrea, 16, Wilson High, DC

“For beach week, we’re in a house with 23 people—boys and girls. My dad told me to pack condoms.”

—Liz, 17, Bethesda–Chevy Chase High

“Everybody’s like, ‘I wanna be a cool mom.’ I don’t wanna be a cool mom—that’s not what moms are for.”

—Carrie, 17, Thomas Jefferson High, Alexandria

House Rules

“My dad told me he’d let me do whatever I want as long as I get good grades—go to parties, drink, have parties at my house, stay out later. If I wanted something, he’d probably get it for me. I usually get what I want.”

—Brooke, 18, Churchill High, Potomac

“Kids who get good grades automatically have more trust from their parents. If you maintain good grades, it shows that you have some motivation, that you’re doing something with your life.”

—Jennifer, 18, Springbrook High, Silver Spring

“First, I couldn’t have girls over. Then I couldn’t have my door closed with a girl. Then I could have my door closed.

“My mom once in a while will scream up the stairs. Once, I walked to the stairs, and she said, ‘Oh, good—you have your clothes on.’ ”

—Keith, 18, Blair High, Silver Spring

“My parents are stricter than most. I’m actually kind of glad. We were never allowed to watch TV. I know that sounds weird. My brother and I complained for a while, but it’s almost like you don’t really know what you’re missing.”

—Julie, 17, Langley High, McLean

“My parents grew up in India. They think it’s just go home, do homework, go to sleep. My mom says, ‘Forget about the other things and do your work.’ Things seem really simple in my mom’s mind.”

—Meera, Prince George’s County 17-year-old

“We need someone to tell us not to do something. If we’re just allowed to do what we want, then we’re not happy.”

—Lucy, 16, Maret School, DC

The Big Lie

“Teenagers lie to their parents, themselves, their teachers—anybody.”

—Tim, Northern Virginia 18-year-old

“A lot of my friends, especially girls, have to lie and lie and lie. It keeps spiraling, especially if your parents poke into it.

“One time, my friend’s parents were suspicious, so they’re like, ‘Let me talk to a mom.’ So we put this girl on the phone and had her act like the mom of the house.”

—Ben, 17, Gonzaga High, DC

“I’d be really upset if I knew my kid was lying to me all the time. But when I lie, I don’t feel bad about it. It’s sort of like why would I tell the truth if I know the truth is gonna get me in so much trouble? It seems like a no-brainer.”

—Name and school withheld

“My parents caught me smoking weed. I tried to cover the smell with deodorant. The next morning while I was in the shower, my mom came in and was like, ‘I want you to be honest with me—were you smoking last night?’

“I’m naked in the shower, and my mother’s on the other side of the curtain. There’s really nothing I can say at that point—when my mother clamps down on you, it’s like you’re caught in the ‘jaws of life’ they use to pull people out of cars.”

—Name and school withheld

Do You Know Where YourTeen Is?

“One of my friends has a home-security system she found a way to outsmart. She put a magnet on one of the sensors. Now she can open the door and close the door and she climbs down a tree to sneak out. Her parents think it’s impossible, so they don’t even check up on her.”

—Brooke, 18, Churchill, Potomac

“My boyfriend snuck over to my house at 3 in the morning. I opened the door, and my mom heard it and came down. I told her I was just up getting a snack and that she heard the fridge door.”

—Rachel, 18, Bethesda–Chevy Chase

“What I’m doing with the sneaking out and lying and stuff, I’m planning how, when I have kids, I can make sure they don’t do that.”

—Adam, 17, Springbrook, Silver Spring

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

“Lately my parents have been hinting that they know I’m not really going where I say I’m going. I wish I had a more open relationship with my parents. But if I told them where I’m really going, they would want all the details. They’re kind of happy to know nothing.”

—Elizabeth, 17, Flint Hill School, Oakton

“I talk to my mom a lot and tell her a lot. It’s kind of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ relationship. She doesn’t really want to know the details, and I don’t really want to tell her.”

—Alexis, 15, T.C. Williams High, Alexandria

“There are a lot of parents who are barely even home to sleep, who work lots of hours. They don’t know what’s going on. I think some of them just don’t want to know.”

—Anne, 16, Madison High, Vienna