Teens Tell Parents To Listen Up

Lt. Thomas Lasher of the Dutchess County Sheriff's Department, talks to parents on a street near where a man held a principal hostage at Stissing Mountain High School in Pine Plains, N.Y., Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009.
AP Photo/Mike Groll
The results of a new poll, aimed to get inside the head of the average American teen, show many don't think their parents are doing as good a job as they should be, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod.

A group of Chicago-based researchers polled 1,000 teens around the country and found the worst marks went to adults who failed to stop teens from smoking and drinking, and to those categorized as "lousy listeners."

Axelrod went looking for teen perspectives on parenting at a recent MTV beach party. And he found plenty of teenagers willing to put the party on hold to offer both criticism and compliments for the skills and tactics of their own parents.

Andrea Legala is one teen who thinks parents are coming up short. "On average I don't believe parents are doing as good a job as they should be," she said.

But sometimes it can be tough for parents to read signs from their teenage children when trying to figure out how to handle certain situations.

When asked how important it was to him to have his dad sit and listen to him, John Leonard said, "Once in a while would be a good thing ... but most of the time I want him to kind of walk away."

Axelrod also spoke to parents who agree with the poll results. Caroline Lewandowski's son filled out the poll, and she says all too often, parents fail to communicate with kids when it really counts.

"There's not enough listening going on," she said. "But you have to listen to your kids even if you have problems doing it."

And there's yet another challenge for parents. Axelrod's interviews showed that even when the adults get it right, they may not be likely to hear about it.

Pru Sath said he would have given his mother an A+ on the poll, but it turns out his mom probably has no idea.

"She always talks to me," he said. "She did a very good job, although I would never tell her that."

On the flip side, it's no secret that teenagers are wont to complain, so many say teen approval can't be an adult's first priority.

Legala, the same teen who accused most parents of doing a lackluster job, agrees.

"Teenagers are definitely quick to complain," she said. "They complain a lot they don't realize how good they have it."