Parenting teens is a totally daunting task.
There are so many times they do something or other and all of our carefully meditated plans go out the window. It's safe to say that teenagers can be some of the hardest people to get along with, but sometimes they're just a downright joy.
It can be difficult working out what happened to our cuddly little kids who wanted to share everything with us. How did they suddenly turn into secretive, grumpy balls of emotion that barely grunt us a 'hello' in the morning? Navigating that shift in your relationship is never easy, and to put it bluntly, at times teens can be totally awful. Adolescence is a time that involves a lot of stress and emotion, and there are going to be times where they're lovely, loving, and sweet, and other times when you just want to close the door and hide away from your parenting duties. Why not check out our article on how to help your teen traveler or this think piece all about what to do if your teen starts shoplifting.
There are tons of different problems that parents can experience when parenting today's teens. From arguments, to lack of communication, to trying to control boundaries and allow space for your child to experiment (without experimenting too much), it's an incredibly difficult few years to navigate even with the most well-behaved kids.
There are a few ways that we often make our lives harder without even realizing while parenting our teens. By having unrealistic expectations, asking for perfection, or setting harsh boundaries, we could be causing our children to want to rebel, and feel angry towards us. Being distant or not trying to understand their point of view can make them feel frustrated and more likely to go out of their way to disobey us.
Getting the balance right between being strict and supportive is a bit of an art form, and no parents get it right all of the time, but we have a few tips up our sleeves to make it a little easier for you.
Being a step-parent to a teen comes with all sorts of problems that can be tricky to manage. When do you step in and when is it best to stay out of things?
The most important advice we can give on step-parenting a teen is to stay on the same page as your partner. Support them in their role as parent, and you'll avoid anything getting between your relationship.
You're bound to be faced with the, 'You're not my real mom/dad!' argument, if only because your teen has probably seen it on TV and liked the drama that it brought. It can be tough to keep your cool but try not to take it personally. A lot of the time, this is just used as a power play so your teen can get their own way.
The best thing you can do for your teens when you are a step-parent is to understand why they might be saying something to you. Getting to the root of how they're feeling will help you to create a deeper relationship and find practical ways to support them, instead of clashing. At the end of the day, you shouldn't have to put up with being disrespected in your own home, and it's important to talk to your partner about how you feel if your step-teen is making you feel bad on a regular basis.
Books about active parenting of teens can be some of the most helpful resources for creating positive relationships when parenting today's teens. These are some of our favorite parenting books that tackle all the tough questions that parents might have about parenting teenagers and creating a deeper relationship with your child.
'Blame My Brain' by Nicola Morgan is a wonderful book that helps parents understand the neurological changes going on for their teens during these formative years.
'How To Talk So Teens Will Listen' by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish is full of practical wisdom for parents who are struggling with parenting today's teens and getting their kids to listen.
For parents of teenage girls, Peggy Orenstein's book 'Girls And Sex' is full of good parenting teens tips to help you get on the same page in today's culture.
'Get Out Of My Life (But First, Take Me And Alex Into Town)' by Tony Wolf and Suzanne Franks is a lot of parents' favorite book when it comes to understanding teen culture and how to deal with our kids over the teenage years. It helps that it's full of humor and anecdotes from raw and real messy families.
Parenting today's teens is one thing, but parenting teenage trouble can be a whole different story. We've got some practical ways to deal with parenting when your teen is involved in aspects of modern culture that you would much prefer they avoid.
When teens are struggling with substance abuse, mental health problems, or behavioral issues, then it's important to talk to a specialist and get support. These kinds of issues can get out of hand very quickly and can be an incredibly difficult experience for any family, so it's important to seek practical ways you can help your child.
Connect with your teen. This can feel daunting and scary when you feel like your teen has become someone you barely recognize but taking time to connect with your teens and understand their experience can be one of the best ways to harbor a deeper relationship and support your teens through these challenging years.
Help your teens to reframe the situation. Teens are a nightmare at the best of times because they tend to be quite insular, and often selfish, in their opinions and ideas. Helping them to see a bigger picture and understand how their actions have impacted their relationships with other friends or members of your family can spark them to think about things differently and hopefully start acting differently too.
Taking care of yourself probably sounds like a low priority when your teen is battling with bigger issues, but it's important to make sure you are supported in your parenting, and you look after your physical and mental health. If you are exhausted or burnt out, it'll be much harder to support your teen, it's a bit like putting your life jacket on before you put on someone else's.
It's so important to recognize any signs that your teens are in serious trouble or danger, and knowing what to look out for is vital in good parenting. When teens are acting out it's important for parents to take a look at any underlying issues that might need to be addressed.
If you're looking for help parenting teens in a confusing culture, don't worry, these tips and tricks might make things that little bit easier.
Get to know your teen's culture. It sounds obvious, but often parents will avoid learning about the things their teens are into because they're simply so different to what we care about. Being curious about your teen's world will allow parents to create a deeper relationship, and even if your teen feels like it's embarrassing, they will be grateful that you're taking the time to get to know them.
Be accepting. Sometimes parents will be hit with a curveball from their teens. Their views, ideas, and sense of identity might end up being quite different from what you expected. The most important parenting tip we can give during these crucial years is to make sure our kids know that we are always on their side and are there to support them, no matter what. This will allow them to come to us with worries and questions and create a sense of trust that will help you get through even the toughest times.
Stay present. When parenting today's teens, one of the best things we can do is be present parents. Even though they might act as though they don't really want you around, teens actually need their parents to be present with them far more than younger kids do.
Spend time together every day. If you can create a time that you spend with your teen every day, that will make parenting a lot easier and more enjoyable. Creating a routine around breakfast, lunch, or dinner where you engage with your teen and ask them about their life will allow you to stay in the loop and have a real positive effect on these tough years.
Honor your promises to your teens. The best way to create a good relationship with your teens is to keep the promises you make. If your teen comes home asking you not to share their deepest secret, then the worst thing that can happen is them overhearing you sharing that secret with your partner or a friend, no matter how trivial it actually is. If you want to share something with another family member or a friend that you think could help, your first approach should be to ask your child for their permission. This is going to help them feel so much safer coming to you with worries in the future.
Be respectful. Yes, sometimes your teen will act silly and do dumb stuff, but as parents, we need to respect the process of our teens becoming their own people. These years are some of the most important years for our teens to work out who they are and what they stand for. Whether they are 13 or 16 or beyond, on the days we find them difficult to understand, it's important that parents try to respect that their teens are discovering who they are.