Parenting Teenagers – The Good, The Bad and The Funny!

This blog is in partnership with mum blogger Emma Bradley, who founded her site Emmaand3. Here she gives an insight into her experience as a parent of teens, and offers some wise words for what to expect during these testing years. 

The teenage years can be trying at best – both for parents and teens. These formative years present opportunities where a teenager can learn, grow and become more of an individual. But this individuality may come with a price. Teenagers will push the limits, question their identity and try to become more autonomous. I have two teenagers one at 19 and one at 15 and I have loved parenting at this stage.

mytutor-illustration-helper-mum

“Helping” with homework can be more confusing for you than for your teen!

Communication

Communication between parents and teenagers suffers during the teen years. Parents are often desperate to gain back the affection and relationship they once had with their child. In those desperate attempts, parents will argue, nag and punish their teenagers. However, this often drives teenagers further away.

Effective communication with a teenager is a great way to remain close and help teenagers come into their own. However, it is challenging when parents are used to respectful and obedient children and suddenly they’re faced with an argumentative or obstinate teen.

Listen to Your Teenager

Listening intently and purposefully is a great way to get a teenager to open up. Listening with love and acceptance will help a teenager feel more self-confident. When a teen starts talking, consider it a good opportunity to just listen. Do not judge or tell a teenager he did the wrong thing. Unless a dangerous situation looms, listen in a reflective manner. This will convey that what the teen is saying is important.

Listening can be difficult, but teenagers need to be heard. Parents should practice listening more than talking. Listen to the feelings behind the words and verify what was understood. A teenager may accuse a parent of being too strict but the teen may really mean that he feels he is not trusted.

Showing a teenager respect will help build self-confidence. When talking with a teenager, speak with respect and acceptance. Teenagers may not want to talk about everything with their parents, but they do need to know they can talk with their parents.

Tips for Talking to a Teen

Parents may not get the same quantity of information they received from a child a few years earlier, so the quality of the conversation is what matters most. Cherish the times when a teenager opens up and listen as intently as possible. Use these tips for more effective conversations with a teenager:

  • Be a good listener
  • Do not judge
  • Do not nag
  • Do not lecture
  • Respect privacy
  • Do not betray trust
  • Be accepting
  • Use suggestions, not commands
  • Do not insult
  • Show praise

The teenage years can be challenging enough for an adolescent without adding conflict with parents. With positive and productive communication, parents can help build a teenager’s self esteem and confidence. Great communication will also make a teen feel accepted and loved.

Top tips for keeping your home happy with teens

In addition to the fundamentals above I wanted to share some of the more lighthearted tips and experiences that I have personal experience of when parenting teenagers!

  1. Stock your cupboards! Firstly you can never ever have enough food in the house. Your teenager will go through phases of eating everything in sight!
  2. Expect hungry teens anyway. It doesn’t matter how much food you have in the house they will still be hungry and complain there is nothing to eat! My cupboards can be full but the teenagers will stand and stare into them proclaiming there is nothing to eat!
  3. Sleep – here you can get your own back for all those sleepless nights you had when they were little. Now you can hoover outside their bedroom at 10am and wake them up! My son especially can sleep 12 hours straight and still be tired if I wake him before midday at the weekend!
  4. As a parent, you are never funny! You can tell the best joke but they will just roll their eyes and refuse to crack a grin. Parents can no longer be funny even if their friends find you funny!
  5. Detective Mum. Teenagers have no ability to find anything. Lost their charger – it’s your fault. They forgot to put their sports kit in the washing – well that is your fault too because they didn’t know that you were about to do the washing. And of course when you do find their missing items they don’t necessarily show gratitude either.
  6. Keep out! Next, my teenagers don’t like me going in their rooms – which is something I agree with. After all, they’re entitled to their privacy. When I have no crockery, glasses, plates or cutlery left in the kitchen though I do need to venture in to reclaim enough for the rest of us to eat and drink from!
  7. The Terrible Teens. Teenagers are still impulsive and you may see a return of temper tantrums. Much like when they were of pre school age and didn’t have the vocabulary to explain emotions, teenagers can also become overwhelmed. They are going through puberty, and dealing with the changes that brings both physically and emotionally.

Parenting teenagers is a stage of parenting that can bring much joy but also new challenges to parents and carers. We need to remember that during this time their bodies and brains are still developing. Research now suggests that the brain doesn’t finish developing until we are in our 20’s. Try to remember this when you are exasperated (once again) by your teenager.

Good luck!

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