The Voice of Experience Talks Bringing Up Teens

Quite often I see threads on my local mums’ Facebook page about how to discipline a teenager. I read these threads that are detailing the issues they are having and I nod along going: yup, yup, yup, like some kind of nodding dog. They are usually asking for advice, which although I don’t always jump in and give as I don’t necessarily feel equipped to, I do find myself questioning what I do, or how I think I would react.

With each teenager, I am experiencing new things and coming up against new issues. The issues that existed with my step daughter are now different for my daughters and so on. Life changes and evolves in all sorts of ways and as parents, we must be prepared to move with it.

With this in mind, I thought I would write another post in my: Voice of Experience series. Not because I feel that I have all the answers to teenage/parent angst, but because I have picked up a few things that have worked and are working for me on my journey.

The Voice of Experience Talks Bringing Up Teens

Sometimes against every gut feeling in your body, show them and tell them that you trust them. If someone feels they aren’t trusted, they are more inclined to stray. It builds up a huge amount of resentment. Trust is an essential part of any relationship and it is certainly important with teens.

Equally, make them aware of your expectations surrounding this trust. This gives them boundaries to push against, and therefore the security that you care and that what they do matters to you. 

Communicate with them. Try to get them out of the house and on neutral ground. A walk is perfect, whether it’s a dog walk, a walk around town, even a trip to the supermarket. Stepping into their bedroom with the words: ‘we need to talk’, is guaranteed to switch them off.

Don’t be afraid to thrash things out. You cannot avoid confrontation for an easier life. If you haven’t got the energy to deal with it, put it on hold until you have. Sometimes it’s good to let the dust settle. 

Don’t set unrealistic rules and be prepared to be flexible. Don’t see this as backing down. Often if you listen to your teen they are making valid points about something that you may have previously dismissed. Not listening to their point of view will push them away and closer to their friends who will always agree with them. 

Try to keep them close. You will feel that you are losing them, but you are not. Don’t smother them, let them go and ironically this will keep them closer to you. As they start to seek independence, to spend more time in their rooms and less time on family activities, don’t panic – this is normal. At about the age of 15, they will probably stop bothering to come downstairs to say goodnight. Don’t hold it against them, it’s nothing serious.

Don’t use cutting off their lifelines as punishments: their friends, their phones, social media. They quite literally are their lifelines. By doing this you are simply making them feel even more isolated and less likely to cooperate. If they see that you are listening to them and trying to understand, then they are far more likely to play ball. 

Acceptance is so important. Accept that they are going to push against you. Accept that they are going to break some rules. Pick your battles. It is not a reflection on your inability to parent, it is a sign that they are growing up.

Embrace their noise! Be happy that they have a voice. Teach them how to argue effectively and to put their point of view across.

Throw comments into conversations. Snatched moments are all you may get with a teenager, so use them in a way that you haven’t perhaps before. Don’t see it as futile and worry that you’re not getting time with your teen to get a message across. If you sit down at a table and talk to them for 10 minutes, they will only be listening to a tiny part of the conversation anyway and will actually remember even less of it. Think back to those throwaway comments people have said to you in the past that you remember. Sound bites have a place – be a parent politician.

Please add your thoughts in the comments box. Let’s share the challenges and celebrate the successes!

MHM TEENS stroppy

21 thoughts on “The Voice of Experience Talks Bringing Up Teens”

  1. I think this is brilliant and any teenager would be appreciative of your way of thinking. I guess it’s about reminding yourself of when you were a teenager and how you reacted to things. I bet this piece will help many xx #coolmumclub

  2. This is all really great advise. My two are still very little and have their own challenges but I know the teen years are going to be hard for me because I am going to have to let go of some of my control, let them make their own mistakes to learn from and trust them out in the world on their own.

  3. I love the bit about soundbites. I’ve not thought of it like that. I hate being a parent of teens. It’s like a big joysuck but what can you do? 😉 I have found myself in conversations with friends, workshopping what we ‘consider’ bad parenting but needs to be done for risk management. Sometimes you do what you thought you would never do to make sure people stay safe. If you can keep them telling you the truth, even if it’s not what you want to hear, you’re probably doing pretty good…I am always amazed at people who tell me they never have any trouble with their teen when I know what their kid gets up to…if you think your teen is perfect, you probably don’t know them at all….

    1. I totally agree. You can stick your head in the sand about what they get up to…in fact, that’s probably the best place to be for an easier life! Thank you so much for your comments.

  4. The hubby and I were chatting in the car on the way to a wedding at the weekend about the future, and what it might be like with two teenage girls. This is a great piece of guidance for the future. Trying to soak every point in to remember it 🙂
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub Alison x

  5. Shall be calling you in a couple of years when my eldest turns 14. You sound like the voice of reason! You mentioned #bloggerclubuk on my own post but I don’t see your post in that linky so I’ll say #coolmumclub instead!

  6. Alison I couldn’t not read this post. I only have two teenagers but sometimes it feels like I have twenty two and they are both so different. The key things for me have always been communication and trust. Nothing is off limits if they want to talk and if they share a confidence I respect that. It is harder as they grow up isn’t it because they tend to move more towards their mates than their parents but they know I am always there. You are absolutely right about not taking away their lifeline as a punishment. My husband has done that on a couple of occasions in my absence and it has really backfired. #ablogginggoodtime

  7. Amazing tips, listening to them really resonates with me. I don’t have a teenager yet (he’s 11 months) but I remember being a teenager and hated not feeling heard. I agree if you listen to them and understand their feelings they’re more likely to cooperate, this works with my boyfriend as well ; ), actually these could be good tips for husbands too! Haha Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

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