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Parents: How Teens Feel About Real World Issues

What have teens learned from their parents? Teen Writing Contest about Parents

Question:  What's something you don't know about your parents? (Teens were asked to interview parents to learn more about them).

Answer:  Our results are in:  Out of scores of essays and responses, 1 out of 2 teens had a paradigm shift about their parents after they asked their parents to tell them something they didn't know.

  • Parental Paradigm Shift Occurred = 50%

  • No Shift Occurred = 26%

  • Ambiguous = 24%

Below is's summary report on what teens learned about their parents compiled from the data, insights and essays shared by students in high school and college participating in's proprietary student writing contest series.

This includes a showcase of scores of essays from high school and college students (see below) as they answered the writing contest writing prompt...

"What's something you don't know about your parents?"


We grow up under the guidance of these people called "parents." They like to walk around and act like they own the place.  They changed our diapers.  They burped us.  They fed us.  And they loved us.  Some maybe had better ways of showing it than others, but they all did love us in their own way.

Suddenly, as teenagers, after years of care-giving, coaching, discipline, and "please eat your vegetables," we find ourselves in a place where we can suddenly pretty much take care of ourselves without our parents. 

We asked teens and college students to "interview,"  their parents and ask them one question:  "Tell me something I don't know about you."  Students could also pose this question to grandparents or any key parental figure in their life.

Student Reach:

Over 5,280 students from all 50 US states, 72 international countries, and over 1,300 cities visited the writing contest page during the month of essay contest (June 2011), and scores of high school and college students submitted their thoughts about the media via their 500 word essay.  From the essay submissions, five key themes and trends emerged about prom:

Teen Trends / Themes on Parents:

    1. Parents Are Human: Many teens faced a shocking realization—their parents were once teenagers too! Teens discovered that their parents often made the same mistakes that they were making, or had made before. Many teens appreciated this discovery, and now seek their parents’ advice regularly.
    2. 2.      Go For Your Dreams: Teens also learned that their parents did not get to achieve their dreams, and this is why their parents push them so hard academically. Parents only want to see their children succeed and be happy.

      3.      Childhood Stories: When teens asked their parents to tell them a story, many teens were relayed stories from their parents’ childhoods; tales about thievery, hardships in different countries, and simple ways to be happy.

      4.      …Or No Stories At All: But some teens did not receive stories at all; instead, they heard only the distance in their relationship with their parents.


    Of the high school and college students either visiting, completing the teen survey or participating in the essay contest...

      • 5,286 teen/college students from 72 countries and over 1,300 cities visited writing contest page (86% were from the US)

      • 710 poll votes were gathered
      • Nearly 100 qualified essays were submitted (see below essays)
      • Top ten U.S. states sending students to the writing contest page (in rank percentage order):
        1. California    
        2. New Jersey    
        3. New York
        4. Virginia    
        5. Pennsylvania    
        6. Florida     
        7. Texas     
        8. Illinois         
        9. Maryland     
        10. Massachusetts
    • Top ten cities sending students to the contest page: 
        1. Los Angeles
        2. New York
        3. San Diego
        4. Chicago
        5. Culpeper
        6. Flemington
        7. Mountain Lakes
        8. Seoul
        9. York
        10. Manakin Sabot
    • Majority of students visiting contest page came from a Google search.  The primary sources of traffic came from "direct" (students already familiar with,, and then the eNewsletter.
    • 73% of the teens were first time visitors to the writing contest
    • Pre-Essay Teen Poll Results:

        See the Full Poll Report on the Pre-Essay POLL results about teen challenges.

      The Essays: 

      Immediately below, you'll find featured links to the winning essay, our semi-finalists and over 85 other prom essays from college students and teenagers that answered the question, "What is something you don't know about your parents?"

      Please take a few moments to read an essay or two. If you have the time, make a comment on the responses you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their contest entry).

      Student Writing Contest Winner

      Winner: I’ve learned from my father always by tonytonycc (His family reveals information sparingly)



        Aside from the finalists, we had a wide variety of teen writing contest entry essays about prom.  We've categorized the responses by parents.

        About Mothers

        About Fathers


          • I learned from my mother and father their childhood experiences by spike312 (This teen’s mom wanted to be a pediatrician; this teen’s dad passed away when he was young)
          • I learned from my father’s and mother’s childhood by Yuliana (This teen learned that her parents had difficult childhoods)
          • I Learned From My Parents by gschiller14 (Her parents hated each other in college)
          •    I learned from my mother/father…they do what they do to protect me by xXTaylorBugsXx (Her parents struggled when they were young)


            • I learned from my grandmother by ShaniceStephenson.2012 (Her parents were drug addicts; their addiction forced them to give up their child—the writer—to her grandmother)

              Last Words: 

              We could not list all of the essays submitted for this contest, but we thank every student that participated in the conversation about prom.  To enter the current Stage of Life monthly writing contest for high school students and college students:


              Writing Contest Archive - Students

              Writing Contests and Teen Trend Reports

     Student Writing Contests

              Below you will find all of the monthly writing contests and teen trend reports from the last five years hosted by  Our dedication to digital literacy efforts have reached over 1,000,000 students and teachers in the last half decade, received mention on, and features in the news.  Feel free to click through and read the top essay submissions from any given month. is honored to be one of the most-visited writing contests for students in the world.  We love working with you as we celebrate the journey as life-long readers and writers...

              2016 Writing Contests

              Writing Contest for High School Students

              2015 Writing Contests

              2014 Writing Contests

               2013 Writing Contests

              2012 Writing Contests

              2011 Writing Contests

               2010 Writing Contests

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