Thursday, 16 April 2015

Bringing Up Teenagers

Children walking away There is no right or wrong...

This is not a how-to guide. I honestly don't think it would matter how many teenagers you brought up, you will never become an expert. Everyone is different, including children and young adults. You will not get it right all the time. Fact. You might as well accept it now. There is no room for perfection in any aspect of parenthood, but luckily, children don't actually care about perfection, they care about happiness and security. The good news is, you can give them that without being an expert, you just need to walk a mile in their stinky trainers now and again.

Goodbye Kitty... 

The fact is, all parents witness the day when their cute, chubby, tutu wearing cherubs morph into moody, know-it-all, bolshy teenagers. No one knows exactly when it happens, but it invariably does. Hormones play a massive part, but there are also the other, less obvious changes going on. The teenage years are a bit like the Grand Canyon. There you are on one side, with your comfy, predictable Hello Kitty existence, quietly minding your own business, on the other side is a terrifying, unknown, unpredictable world that you know nothing about. You are then tasked with the job of getting from one side to the other, safely and without annoying anyone.. EVEN IF YOU DON'T WANT TO! That's actually a really important point that deserves a moment of contemplation. How scary is that?! Who would want to leave their comfort zone to dive into the unknown with all the responsibility and pitfalls that entails?

The Grand Canyon

What would you do? 

If your teen is prone to meltdowns, emotional outbursts, or general stroppiness, the important thing to remember is, your children are most likely smaller versions of yourself. So, when your teen reacts in a way you don't like, be honest with yourself. What would you do in the same situation? How would you, with all your years of experience and lots of practice at handling confrontation, react? Learning how to conduct yourself and how to speak appropriately isn't something we're born with, it comes with experience. It is really hard not to react in the same way, when someone speaks to you rudely or inappropriately, but if you can fight it and remain calm, you will go a long way towards, not only mirroring the behaviour you want to see, but also staying in control, because it should prevent the situation turning into a full-on argument.


Make time to listen...

I think everyone worries about what is going on in their teenager's head. Are they happy? What's happening at school? Are their friends pressuring them? A common concern amongst parents is that, as they get older, their children seem to find it harder to talk and open up to them. You can't force anyone to talk if they don't want to, but by providing opportunities to open up, you can ensure you are doing your best to facilitate open dialogue. It doesn't matter what you do, it could be walking, or cooking, feeding the ducks, or anything. As long as your young person knows that, just for that short period of time, they are your main focus. You don't have to ask questions, in fact it's better if you don't, just allow conversation to flow and hopefully any worries will have a chance to come to the surface naturally, without them feeling your prying or getting into their personal space. 


Two ducks on a lake.

Trust is a must...

It is easy to watch all the horror stories in the media and want to lock your teen in the shed until they are thirty. However, this is not really practical, so why not try trusting them a little? Their safety is obviously paramount, but if you don't cut them a little slack, they won't learn how to take care of themselves and keep themselves safe. They will also hopefully respond positively to a small amount of responsibility, because it shows them that you respect the fact they are growing up. There's an old saying; respect is something that should be earned, and it works both ways. There is no reason to believe that they won't follow rules about curfew or where they are allowed to go, unless they prove otherwise, so give them a chance. It will do a lot for their self esteem to know that you believe in them and that will encourage them to prove their worth. If you give them the chance to act like grown ups, they may surprise you!



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48 comments

Mammasaurus said...

Lovely post, I'm one for the empathy angle, remembering back to when I was a teenager and trying to take that into consideration too. Honesty and openess are the key things for me, if I'm open with my children they are more likely to be open with me x

Sarah Ebner said...

What terrific advice. I think trust is vital, and also remembering that it's not easy with all those hormones swirling about (me and them!)

Liz Burton said...

Fab post, I'll be needing this advice in a few years time.

Erica Price said...

I'm dreading the day we say goodbye to the male equivalents of Hello Kitty.

pinkoddy said...

Great post. My oldest son is 18 and has been relatively easy. I fear my 11 year old is much more like me and that puts fear into my heart. Wish me luck it's not long away is it *gulp*

Madeline @ This Glorious Life said...

My oldest is only (nearly) 4, so this is quite a way off for me luckily! I'm not looking forward to it to be honest, but there is some great advice in your post that will be useful to try and remember in the future. Especially liked the point about taking time to think how you would react yourself if you were in your child's position. x

Michelle K said...

Ahh I don't want my boy to grow up! He's 4 now and I just can't imagine what he'll be like as a teenager! xx

Mama Syder said...

Such great advice. The one thing my teen gets really annoyed with me about is when I don't trust her. I always have to think back to myself at that age and realise that she is so much better behaved than I was, and I put that down to the fact that I trust her more than my mum did me at 15 x

Donna @OrdCyclingGirl said...

We have a little way to go until the teenage years but I do remember how difficult they were and I really hope I'll be able to keep that in mind when the time comes with my two. Great advice. Trust is so important.

Kate Thompson said...

Fab post, and great advice. My eldest is 17+ and we have a fab relationship, I've always been there to listen and we have spent lots of time together without the others over the years. Son #2 is SO much easier as a teen than he was when younger (ADHD and ASD) so I'm (so far!) loving the teen years!

angela hamilton said...

What a lovely post. I have a while to go before my kids reach the teenage years

Laura Elizabeth said...

Great post and really great advice. Thanks for sharing x

Sarah-Louise Bailey said...

I wan an evil teen - I wouldn't wish the teen years on anyone. x

Louise said...

Lovely post, I get glimpses of the teenage year from my 5yo haha - the teenage years are tough for everyone - I hope I will be open and understanding when my kids get there x

Lucy Dorrington said...

That is so true, after all, if you can't trust your family, who can you trust?

Lucy Dorrington said...

Ha ha, yes, good point, it is a two way street!

Lucy Dorrington said...

Ooh, good luck, you'll be fine, I'm sure!

Lucy Dorrington said...

Me too! I still have a nine year old boy and he's my last one! *sniff*

Lucy Dorrington said...

Ooh, good luck! My stubborn streak has been known to cause a few problems too!

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thank you, it as in easy one to forget, but it can help! x

Lucy Dorrington said...

I am starting to see glimpses of teenager in my nine year old and I think boys will be a lot different to girls, he already has an answer for everything!

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thank you and you are so right. It's hard sometimes, but having faith in them gives them so much confidence as well.

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thank you and good luck, I'm sure you'll do great!

Lucy Dorrington said...

That's great to hear! It's so lovely when you can enjoy it, because it can go on for quite a long time and it's nice to get some positives out of it!

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thank you, they'll turn into lovely teens when the time comes I'm sure!

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thank you, have a great weekend!

Lucy Dorrington said...

Ha ha, but if you can recognise that, it makes you much better prepared for teenage traumas!

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thank you, I'm glad I'm not the only one who spots that. My nine year old has an answer for everything!

Mellissa Williams said...

When my son was 13 he went through a really bolshy phase of questioning everything and being really argumentative. He got through it in the end though lol.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post :D It's nice to know that there is a method to all of this madness!

Emma said...

I found this interesting as I am a teacher of teenagers (mostly sixth form) and a mum of a teen. I honestly believe teens get a rough deal most are not this hormonal unhinged mess. I think its to easy to say 'oh its a teen thing etc' My teens are great and if you talk to them most are happy and studious and doing just what you want them to! I actually find the tween years harder!

Steph Curtis said...

I love all of these tips and am saving them in the back of my mind! Especially the one about trust - that's tricky these days with so much social media about but important to let them have a bit of freedom too!

beautyqueenuk said...

Really good post and some really good advice x

The Mini Mes and Me said...

Minxy is 11 and the strops have already begun. I try not to laugh at times as she really does remind me of myself x

jaime oliver said...

I have a super grumpy teen that is driving me bonkers .. she can have all the time in the world from me if the grumps would do one lol lol

Laura Side Street said...

Oh this is a lovely post and an insight into what to expect - I am not sure how I am going to feel when my boys become teenagers - a scary prospect

Laura x

Mums do travel said...

This is all very good advice. My kids are 16 and 12 and I think that the teenage years are the hardest part of parenting. It's a very tough age for kids as they face many different pressures.

Kara Guppy said...

I have managed to steer one successfully through the teenage years but still have two there at the moment - certainly more difficult than the baby / toddler stage

lisa prince said...

oh i do look forward to mine growing up and going through the tennage state , bar one i already have in the mood swings and lazy stage some time yet

Ickle Pickle said...

Great post - I have two teen sisters and a tween brother. Lots of 'stuff' going on in our house!! Mummy says listening and trust are THE two biggies to remember. Thank you for linking up to #MyFavouritePost

Zena's Suitcase said...

For me this was the toughest part of parenting. We are coming out of the other side, and I'm not entirely sure how we made it through unscathed but we seem to have. I'd say encourage them to take responsibility for things, it helps keep their feet on the ground. Thanks for linking up with #MyFavouritePost

Sonya Cisco said...

Ooh and they say the baby years are the hardest, but learning to let go is far harder if you ask me! Some great advice here

Tina Holmes said...

What a lovely post. I'm dreading the teenage years, hopefully I can just go with the flow.

Rebecca Smith said...

Great advice, I'm dreading the teenage years..I know how bad I could be!!

Claire Potter said...

Great post - love the Grand Canyon comparison! I'm finding the crossing really tough! Going to see Brainstorm (about the changes that go on in the teenage brain) really shifted my view of how to deal with a teenager. It's on again at The National Theatre, London, in July. You can read my - and my teenager's! - review of it here:
http://thequirkyparent.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/see-teenagers-in-whole-new-light-go-and.html

Globalmouse said...

I have to say I'm already dreading the teenage years!! Some great tips here though, thank you!!

Agata Pokutycka said...

Trust is so important when it comes to teens but it is so hard at times to find the perfect middle ground - keep them safe yet allow the freedom...

Vai Chin said...

We still have a while before this stage, but trust is always important no matter what their age.

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