What Are the Most Important Things in a Teenager's Life?

Teens' family relationships are an essential part of their lives.
... NA/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

It often feels as if teenagers are the most difficult age group to understand. Because they can be moody and uncommunicative, it can be hard to know what thoughts are running through their heads. Fortunately, professionals such as teachers, coaches and counselors who devote their lives to teens know what makes them tick. You can also rely on research that periodically surveys teens to help get a better grasp on what teens care about. Understanding what's important to the teens in your life can help improve your relationship with them.

1 Family is Important

Although teens often give the impression they'd rather be doing almost anything other than spending time with their family, this is not the case. Research conducted by the Government of Australia supports the idea that even when teens don't come to their parents for help, they benefit from knowing their support is available when they need it. Teens do enjoy spending time doing fun activities together with their families. Despite assumptions to the contrary, teens consider their parents to be an important part of their lives, notes a survey conducted by Family Lives.

2 Structure, Trust and Respect

Authority, rules and limits are all important in a teenager's life. Although teens object loudly to parental restrictions, these structures demonstrate love, and teens are aware of that. It's critical for teens to know that they have their parents' unconditional love -- that no matter what mistakes they make, their parents will still be there for them. Teens want the adults in their lives to understand them. If they make mistakes, they want to be forgiven. It''s also important to teens that adults trust them and treat them with respect.

3 Time with Friends

It's not surprising that friends are very important to teens. According to Family Lives' research, over half of all teens surveyed listed their friends in the top three things most important to them. Teens value money, but usually only as a means to afford engaging in fun activities with their friends. Teens reported their greatest pleasures come from having free time to spend hanging out with their friends.

4 School and Other Things

Teens recognize the importance of school, probably because parental approval is closely tied to success in school and also because teenagers spend a large portion of their waking hours in school. Teens also consider their phones, food and pets as important, although to a lesser degree, according to the Family Lives survey.

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.