Parenting teens is considered the most scary period for every parents. I heard endless times the mantra “Wait until your kids become teenagers” and when Eden was young, I did find this warning scary. After all, I had not been an easy teen for my parents (not that I had been an easy kid either).
Yet, the more Eden grew, the more I realized that for my parents, my teen years had been years of reason, success and happiness. While other parents had talked about their kids turning into monsters during their teen years, my parents had found joy parenting me for the first time in, because I had finally done well socially and academically.
This thought made me dedicate a big chunk of my education career to teens and even today, I often deal with parenting teens in my parenting workshops. I even wrote a book for parents, educators and teenagers to bust the myth of “those obnoxious teens”.
As kids grow, parents must grow with them. As their interaction with the “outside” world broadens, our task of supporting them broadens too. This is not an easy task, although not because of them, but because of us.
A research on parents’ attitude done over 30 years checked what parents thought about their teens’. 30 years later, it checked what those teens, who by then had grown and become parents themselves, thought about their own teenagers. Surprise, surprise! The research said that the parents of 30 years ago and the parents of today rate their teens misbehaving attitude exactly the same (OK, maybe no surprise).
When I read this research, I said to myself that we are totally trapped. Whatever I say about my teens today, they will say about their kids in 30 years, so you know what? It does not have to be a bad trap. I think I like trapping my teens in my positive attitude…
I asked our Top Parenting Bloggers what they think about parenting teens. Some of them are parents of teens, other are not yet, but it is interesting to read what they think.
What are your thoughts about parenting teens?
Ria Sharon – My Mommy Manual
I don’t have teens! But I know I will be turning to the many resources I have when I start to address “teen” issues.
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo – Single Dad
It has its own special moments…
It’s a different skill set. More Listening, less talking and a lot of support and letting them know you are always there for them.
Sue Scheff – Sue Scheff Blog
I think parenting today has become more challenging than generations before. Even today, compared to when I raised my kids, the electronics has changed the world of parenting. Bullying has escalated to cyberbullying. Texting has grown to sexting.
Teens are less respectful to adults and parents more today than I have ever noticed. Kids today have a sense of entitlement, and I believe parents need to try to get control back.
It doesn’t help that in today’s generation we have many more single parent homes and the stress of finances has forced many households to have both parents working full time. All of this goes toward making parenting teens extremely challenging, as they need guidance more today than years earlier.
Susan Heim – Susan Heim on Parenting
Don’t take their behavior too personally. When they roll their eyes at you and don’t want to be around you, that’s a good sign that they’re developmentally normal!
Set limits but don’t be overly strict. Trust them, unless they give you a reason not to. Check in with them even when it seems they don’t want you around.
Don’t lecture; discuss. Pick your timing for discussions, such as in the car.
Show an interest in what they like. Don’t lecture. Listen as much as you talk.
When you say no, explain why.
Annie Fox, M.Ed. – From the desk of Annie Fox
My whole website it about that! Simply put (though it’s not simple at all!), teens are in transition and parents need to respect the changes they’re going through. Talk less and listen more. Here are ten tips for improving parent teen relationships.
Remember you are the parent – Your job is to protect your child and prepare him/her to become a fully functioning adult. Being a leader and a compassionate teacher is more important than being your teen’s friend.
Remain calm – Nothing gets resolved when stress makes it impossible to think clearly. Can’t respond rationally? Then take a break until you can.
Talk less and listen more – Just like the rest of us, teens want to be respected and heard. Be a “safe” and available person to talk to.
It’s a balancing act – A key challenge in parenting teens is to remain emotionally connected while granting your kids more privacy and autonomy.
They’re always watching – Want your teen to be trustworthy, responsible, and compassionate? Make sure you’re modeling those values in your own life.
Make your expectations clear and be consistent with your follow-through – If kids know the consequences ahead of time and they’ve bought into the rules of the house, they’re more likely to make healthy choices.
Catch your teen in the act of doing something right – Praise shows that you noticed their efforts. It also promotes a feeling of competency.
Be real – Father/mother does NOT always know best. Admit your own confusion and mistakes. Apologize when appropriate. Show your kids that just like them, you too are also “a work in progress.”
Regularly create time to enjoy being a family – Having regular meals together and relaxing, unplugged from digital technology, is a gift with long-lasting benefits.
Lighten up! – Humor is a great de-stressor. Remember, no one stays a teen (or the parent of a teen) forever!
Maria Melo – Conversations with Moms
Since my children are 5 and 1, right now, the only word in my mind is “scary”. I just hope I’m ready for it.
Annie – PhD in Parenting
I’ll take another five or so years to think about that! Other than the fact that I think it is important to be very open with them about sex and sexuality, I don’t have any preconceived notions of parenting a teen.
Ronit Baras – Family Matters
I think parenting teens is the same as parenting a 2-year-old, a 6-year-old or a 10-year-old – all of them are new and keep changing, and when you do it the first time, there is some trial and error.
There is nothing magical about the teen years and there is no clock in the brain that says, “I’m teen today, so let me start acting nasty”. I don’t believe in the hormonal excuse grownups have made up to justify their fear of their kids becoming more and more independent. I think teens have a bad image and parents fulfill their own prophecy through their behavior. Teens are wonderful and interesting and understanding and creative and if you treat them so, they will behave so.
I have wonderful teens (two of them) and I think they are wonderful because I think they are wonderful… It is an awesome cycle and I suggest every parent of teens get trapped in it right away.
I have worked with many teens and I have thought they were inspiring, thoughtful, responsible – every parent’s dream. It is the grownups’ mindset that needs to be changed, not the teens’. Just relax, smile and pay attention.
Many thanks to the Top Parenting Bloggers: Maria, RJ, Annie Fox, Susan, Annie, Ria and Sue for sharing their thoughts about parenting teens.
Join us next week’s Top Parenting Bloggers discussion about keeping kids healthy. Kids’ health is probably an issue all parents deal with and it will be great to get tips and suggestions from the experts.
As the next week is the last week of The Top Parenting Bloggers Discussion, I wanted to encourage you to add questions to the discussion that you would like answered. You can post them in the comment box below as suggestions for discussion.
If you wish to know more about the bloggers who take part in this project or contact any of them, please visit their blogs, follow them on Twitter and/or become their fan on Facebook. Alternatively, you can send them a question or comment through the comment box below.
Happy parenting teens,
This post is part of the series Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss:
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (1): Introduction
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (2): Parenting Challenges
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (3): Best Parent Qualities
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (4): Parenting Changes Life
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (5): Ideal Child
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (6): Education
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (7): What drives you nuts?
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (8): Discipline
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (9): Profound Parenting Moment
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (10): Parenting Tips
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (11): Government Policy Suggestions
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (12): Parenting Boys and Girls
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (13): Parenting Teens
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (14): How to Keep Your Kids Healthy