I’ve seen thousands of healthy and troubled kids grow up in my pediatric practice. Now, many of those kids are adults and bring their kids to me. Because I know them well, we’ve had great conversations. Many are happy and successful, but some aren’t. And among those who struggled, there are common themes and phrases they use when talking about their parents. Surprisingly, the mistakes their parents made weren’t the small ones, but the big ones.

Here are three that surface regularly when adults who had trouble as teens regularly ask about their parents.

1.) “Where were you?” Every hurting child feels isolated and alone. Troubled teens say, “No one listens to me,” “I feel invisible,” or “No one has time for me.” These aren’t just “you didn’t make it to my concert a couple of times” — this is a consistent experience that Mom or Dad was not available for the child emotionally or physically.

This happens when parents’ priorities get out of whack — they work too much outside the home, focus too much on own interests, are simply too tired to engage the kids, or suffer serious mental illness.

Related: Mom, Here’s What Your Teen Son Really Needs from You

Second, a child may ask this if he was in a situation he should never have been in (at a friend’s home and sexually abused.) The problem may not have resulted from a parent’s mistake. Nevertheless, the child felt unprotected and therefore blames his parents. If a parent finds out that something terrible happened to her child and responds in a nonchalant manner, the abuse feels intensified.

2.) “Why didn’t you?” Kids of all ages (yes, even 17-year-olds) need to feel protected by parents. They will reject gestures they feel are protective, but deep down, it makes them feel loved and secure. This means saying “no” to certain activities and behaviors. Many parents don’t say no either because they want the child to make decisions (um, they’re kids), or they want to minimize conflict in the relationship, fearing that it will drive kids away from them.

3.) “What were you thinking?” When kids are over-scheduled, pushed too hard year after year, and never given time to play, relax and grow up, they look back over their young lives and ask why their parents did this. Adult kids also ask this when a parent allowed them to do something that clearly was detrimental to their health, dangerous or just plain stupid.

If you work outside the home, you must sacrifice something to help your kids.

I see this when parents let their young teens go to parties to drink and perhaps have sex on weekends. Often the parties happen at another parent’s home. Kids who are not prevented from these harmful activities grow up and seriously question their parent’s judgment. When they are older, they don’t see their parents as cool but as weak.

Here’s what you can do to make sure that your child never asks you these questions. Remember, any parent can do these.

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Show up for your kids. Physically be present at key times of the day and months for your child. Dinner time and after school in particular are times when kids need their parents. Life may feel chaotic to you during these hours but your children feel secure just by having you there. In addition, be there emotionally for your kids. Put your cell phone down, look them in the eyes and have a conversation. It doesn’t matter what you talk about, but kids want to know that you see and hear them. You really are paying attention to them.

Related: Why Daughters Need Their Dads So Much

Finding enough time for children is tough for working moms and I understand. The truth is, if you work outside the home, you must sacrifice something to help your kids. Maybe you give up time with friends, hobbies or other interests. It’s tough, but your children’s emotional health is well worth it. And it doesn’t last forever.

Err on the side of being too strict rather than too lenient. Here’s a secret about kids that parents must know: they will tolerate a lot of rules and discipline if they are balanced with fun and pleasure with a parent. Kids who get into trouble in high school and early adulthood aren’t kids who lived with too many rules — they are kids who had no rules.

To kids, no rules means no love. So make solid rules that will protect your kids, let them know why you have the rules and then don’t back down. In between the times you are enforcing the rules, don’t talk about the mistakes they made but go and have fun with them.

Act like a grown-up. When your child wants to do something you don’t like, you feel a ping in your gut. Trust that. If you don’t want your 12-year-old seeing “Fifty Shades of Gray,” but all of her friends are — don’t let her watch. The same is true with dating, drinking, social media, phones, video games, etc. If you think it’s wrong or bad for your child, fight to keep him away from it. Period.

Related: The Seven Secrets of Raising Healthy Boys

The worst that will happen is that your 25-year-old will boast that her mom or dad was “psycho-over-protective,” but she’ll be very proud that she never passed out drunk, had nightmares from sexual and violent movies, or dated the cutest but most promiscuous guy in high school, who gave her an infection or a broken heart.

Many parents don’t follow their instincts because they cave to peer pressure. They want to parent like their friends parent. Skip it. Parent your kids, not your friends’ kids. You’ll end up with fabulous young adults who not only respect you — but want to be with you.

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of the best-selling book “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” as well as a number of digital parenting resources and online courses, including The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids.