Motherhood

21 Completely Subjective Rules for Raising Teenage Girls

21 Completely Subjective Rules for Raising Teenage Girls

I’m now in the phase of parenting when someone replies, “I’m sorry,” after I tell them my daughters are 14 and 16. “And girls!” they’ll add, shaking their heads. It’s not that bad, I want to say. Because of my teenage daughters, I’ve discovered Rick & Morty, and Milk everyday dewy highlighter, and also… um… also lots of other things I can’t really remember right now! Just kidding — they are, of course, still the joys of my life, just slightly more complicated little joys. In their honor, and for any parent navigating (or about to navigate) similar terrain, here are a few completely not-at-all-expert rules I’ve tried to keep in mind on a daily basis…

1. Get as much sleep as you can before they turn 13, because then the sleepless nights really begin.

2. She isn’t mad at you. She just seems like it because she’s been “on” all day, and you are the only one she can take it out on because she knows you’ll still love her in the morning.

3. Teach her to never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever send a picture of herself to someone, especially a boy, that she wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on the front page of the New York Times.

4. Like EVER.

5. You’re not fooling them with your casual concern about their social lives. Maybe you should call Lucy and see what she’s doing today? You are their mother and they see right through you.

6. There is nothing too small to brag about at the dinner table. I believe this should be a rule however old and whatever gender your kids are, but I find it has become especially important for girls during the teenage years, when self-confidence is more likely to wane, and judgement-free zones are rare if not completely non-existent.

7. Speaking of the dinner table: Make it a nag-free zone. None of the Did you take that practice ACT? Did you get back to that teacher? Did you put that freaking breakfast cereal bowl in the dishwasher yet? That is what the other 11 1/2 hours of the day are for. 

8. Talk about her period and periods generally from day one so there is no shroud of shame around them. Even when there are brothers and fathers around — actually especially when brothers and fathers are around.

9. Feed your daughters current events for breakfast, play news radio in the car on the way to the softball game, point them in the direction of podcasts and news accounts to follow on Instagram or their preferred method of social media. When you’re a teenager, it’s no longer cute if you can’t identify the Vice President of the United States.

10. Repeat to self: It’s just a phase. They will go through phases. Of clothes, of friends, of liking carbs and not liking carbs; of liking themselves of not liking themselves; of liking you and not liking you. It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase.

11. It’s not a flash drive; it’s a Juul.

12. Danger in the pre-teen years: Helicopter Parenting. Danger in the teen years: Lawn Mower Parenting. Resist the urge to clear a smooth path for them unless you want to be the mom or dad emailing their college professors to request extensions.

13. It’s okay that they aren’t learning to code or interning with the A.C.L.U. this summer. They’ll learn more about patience and hard work from bussing tables or loading groceries, and the stories they’ll collect will be waayyy more entertaining.

14. When teaching them to drive, take a deep breath and remember: It’s only a 4500-pound car-shaped missile, what’s the worst that could happen?

15. Even if you are an, ahem, food writer who has devoted a good part of her career to figuring out how to raise healthy eaters, be prepared to come up against some seriously powerful forces — social media, the friend whose entire lunch consists of a celery stalk, the Kardashians — that can erase your efforts overnight. Be vigilant. Never stop making the connection between eating well and feeling good.

16. Social exclusion: Most of the time, it’s more painful for you than it is for her.

17. What the hell is Fortnite?

18. Help her find an escape hatch. Whether it’s a summer camp, a theater program, a lacrosse team, a literary magazine, a dishwashing job, finding her people is huge. Having an outlet outside of school is huger. Realizing that the world is bigger and more interesting than who is streaking with whom on Snapchat is the hugest.

19. It’s more important to listen than to fix. While it’s true that teenagers have always been teenagers, their worlds are different than yours. It’s easy to just dismiss things as “I went through that, you’ll be fine.” But they are dealing with social pressures that we never had to deal with and we owe it to them to try to really listen.

20. It’s fine to speak with your teenage daughters and friends in their language (“lit,” “fire,” “gucci”) to sound like the cool parent that you are – so long as you realize the effect will be exactly the opposite of what you intended. (“Mom, you sound like Michael Scott.”)

21. There will be a day when she gets in a car with another teenager headed who-knows-where and you will be tempted to remind her of every single thing you’ve taught her about good judgment – wear your seatbelt, wear your sunblock, listen to your gut, don’t walk home on that dangerously curvy road in the dark, don’t do drugs, don’t get drunk, don’t get in a car with anyone who’s had even ONE drink, don’t take nudes, don’t send nudes, don’t forget you can call me ANY hour of the night if you need me for ANYTHING LITERALLY ANYTHING — but you will keep your mouth shut and trust that she’s been listening.

What would you add?


Food writer Jenny Rosenstrach is the founder of the blog Dinner: A Love Story. She wrote a book with the same name, which has a prized spot on our bookshelf. Her other two books are Dinner: The Playbook and How to Celebrate Everything. She lives in Westchester County with her husband and two daughters.

P.S. Nine parents of teenagers weigh in, and my sister’s awesome dating tip.

(Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images.)

  1. Molly says...

    So I’m a 20 year old girl living away at university. My mum is my best friend and reading this allowed me to look back on all the things my mum did for me as a child and how they shaped me as a person today.
    One of the main things that I have always been grateful for is that my mum always offers advice, whenever there is something happening in my life she will be upfront and honest with her advice and suggestions. But she also respects that at the end of the day it is still my decisions to make and she’ll let me make them, with no judgement, even if i go against what she would want for me. What’s so special about this is that even though she gives me advice and sometimes I don’t follow it, when it all blows up in my face I know she’s still going to be there for me no matter what, she helps me deal with the consequences.
    Last year I was with a boy who I had been seeing for 2 years, my mum didn’t like him because of how he had treated me throughout our relationship and when we had previously broken up for a month. I got back into a relationship with him against my mum’s advice and long story short, he betrayed me again and started cheating on me. I was devastated. Deep down I know that I should have expected it and I felt as though I allowed it to happen, I was mad at myself for not listening to my mum. But when I went into her room at 3am in tears after I had found out, and woke her up, she was as supportive as she always has been. She made a hot chocolate and let me cry into her in the middle of the night. And not once did she say or even hint at “I told you so”.
    My mum respects my decisions but is still there for me when I get them wrong.

    • Mona says...

      I’m 6 months pregnant with a girl, my first baby. This is the kind of mom I want to be..

  2. thank you. from the bottom of my heart.

  3. Amanda B says...

    As someone who is the cool-big-sister slash Mom of a preteen right now (her mother is not in her life), I have a weird but unique perspective these days: I remember being a teen girl not even five years ago, but boy is it still extremely different for my girl.

    One-ish piece of advice that has always worked (besides never being afraid to say no, and that whole “you can’t be their best friend and their Mom at the same time” bullshit is false) is: When they start asking questions, any questions, tell them the absolute truth to the best of your ability. I explained to my sister what childbirth was like when she was just 9 – and when she asked how people got pregnant I said, “A couple of different ways. One’s just for adults, and I’ll tell you when you’re older – but people also go to the doctor, or they adopt children who don’t have parents anymore.” Children, no matter how young, can still understand that the world is complicated.

    2. Do not break your promises. If you think you won’t be able to afford some expensive tech for their birthday, don’t just say yes and hope it’ll work out – tell them it’s not much of a possibility, and then ask what else they’d like instead. Make sure your promises are doable and then DO them – that lack of trust that builds every time you skip out on a soccer game or a trip to the mall or a family dinner tells your kid that they can’t trust you with the big stuff, either.

  4. Christina says...

    Please, Please, One for raising teen boys….maybe there is one !? I just love this article So Very Heart felt – Thanks!

    • My family is European so I was raised with a few drops of wine in my water at 3. I loved watching the red turn my water ever so slightly pink. And the touch of bitterness was lovely. My mother did not pretend her New York City teen wasn’t going to drink. She told me not to leave the house or be sure to eat bread and butter before drinking to coat my stomach. And it would absorb alcohol more slowly. Then, of course not to mix my alcohols: beer or wine or a rum & coke but NEVER 2 or all 3, ever! Then when you get home take (then aspirin) with as much water as you can tolerate and if you can a multi vitamin. To start attacking the morning headache, and to counter all the brain cells you killed drinking, it hurts! Thx Mom! 💯👏🏼.

  5. Clay Arvidson says...

    I am a 70 year old male, who retired after 35 years of teaching 13,14, and 15 year old’s. Once I figured out that goofy and moody were their default mode, I quit trying to put “square pegs” in round holes. I absolutely loved working with that age group. My comment about parenting a daughter and a son, both adults now, is that as soon as we get together I go back into my parenting mode. I don’t sleep until I hear the door open and close. I hate that.

  6. Jackie says...

    I have a son (now 20) and two teenage girls. In response to #21, I always remind my kids to make smart choices by a simple “Don’t do anything stupid” before they head out the door. They may roll their eyes sometimes, but I think it is a worthwhile reminder.

    But the most important thing I think that you can do for your children, no matter what their age, is to remind them each and every day that you love them. It can be a simple “Remember who loves you.” before they step out of the car, or an “Love you!” at the end of a text. Life gets complicated and the teen years are tough. Every child should know in their heart that they are loved no matter what.

  7. laura says...

    As teenagers, My dad always told me and my sister to “keep our head on a swivel.” In other words, constantly be aware of where you are and what is going on around you. When you’re leaving a store, in a parking garage, walking home late at night, etc. While he probably felt the need to remind us of this constantly because we were his baby girls and he wanted us to stay safe, I think it’s good advice for everyone to follow. There have been many times where my fiance and I have been walking and he has been completely oblivious to the person following us for the past two blocks or the guy standing oddly close to us. With headphone wearing now ubiquitous, we should all remember to keep our heads on a swivel!

  8. Susan says...

    Thank you so, so much for this. I read both of your blogs all the time and I have to say this is one of the best things I have read in a long time.

  9. Fiona McG says...

    I would add just one more – your relationship with your body becomes their relationship with their body. Its worth investing heavily in improving that, particularly in a culture where the other messages they are hearing about their body from the media etc are carrying such a negative weight.

    • Rainbow says...

      Omg yessssssssss. My mom was (and still is!) always looking in the mirror or at pictures of herself and referring to her “disgusting” body and how ugly she is and so on. I have been extremely careful about never saying a single negative thing about my appearance to my daughter because boy did my mom teach me all sorts of messages she didn’t intend about how much I should despise my looks…so far my daughter’s really confident :)

  10. Brettne says...

    Desperately needed to read this today—thank you, brilliant Jenny. “It’s just a phase” needs to be written in giant bold letters in every room of my apartment right now. You are my parenting Yoda!

  11. Azlin says...

    Love this! One on teenage boys too please. Please have more posts on bringing up teens as I find that these are more difficult than when they were younger but there is a dearth of good blogs/articles for these age group. Thank you CoJ team 💖

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, azlin! we’re on it! :)

    • Have to share this one. The best advice I ever heard on teenage boys and sex was – if you are thinking about having sex with your girlfriend know “it’s a REALLY big deal to her” she will be clingy, self conscious and very attached. You are taking on this responsibility and have to be there for her.

  12. Kat says...

    I love number 8. I have a three-and-a-half year old and a twenty-month old, both boys. I always talk to them about my period every month, even though (trust me) the idea made my skin crawl at first. From the time he was two or so, my older one has been naturally curious about the my menstrual cycle, so I have used that opportunity to explain what happens in as simple terms as possible, so there is no element of fear or grossness. I want them to have an understanding of anatomy of all genders, and a sense of fearlessness about nature. I also want them to be the guy who carry a tampon, just in case someone needs it.

  13. Moira says...

    I LOVE this! As a high school counselor and soon to be mama myself, numbers 3, 13, and 19 especially speak to me.
    #3-I can’t tell you how many sweet, insecure young ladies are persuaded to take compromising photos of themselves and how 9 times out of 10 they end up being sent to half of the boys in their grade. Teaching girls how to be proud of their beautiful bodies while also helping them to know what it means to protect them is something we all need to help instill.

    #13-THANK YOU for being a parent who is not pressuring their child to be the best at everything and to spend every waking hour of free time involved in a structured activity! Yes, leadership and extracurriculars are important, but so is spending a relaxed week at the beach with your extended family and not thinking about school, work, or college applications! <3

    #19-Teens are WAY more insightful than we give them credit for, and sometimes the number one thing they need from us is to feel like they are being heard. When, as listeners, we get out of "how can I fix this" mode and into "how can I be fully present in this moment," kids pick up on this and appreciate us for validating their feelings and truly listening.

    Thanks again for a wonderful post!
    xo

  14. Monica says...

    I’m not a teen anymore, but 3 years ago at age 24, I went through a TON of life changes. Working full-time post grad school. Broke up with ex-boyfriend and learned first-hand why my parents warned me not to moved in with someone I didn’t really want to marry. Met my current fiance and worried that I may be too young to have met “the one”. I was convinced that I had more of life to live as a single lady.

    In one of the more explosive arguments with my mom (and we talk every single day, we’re like best friends), I got so frustrated that I yelled “WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT? THAT’S NOT EVEN GOOD PARENTING” (eek the nerve I had – I still cringe when I think back on it). My mom responded “I’m sorry. but it’s hard parenting someone who is an adult now and can live her life independently. I’m still adjusting and you need to give me time. Can you be patient with me?”

    Oof.

    But that was the first time I realized that my mom isn’t perfect either and that she’s learning how to adjust her parenting as my sister and I go through different life stages. I think back on that moment a lot whenever I get frustrated with her to remind myself that she’s trying just as hard as I am. And that I’m lucky enough to have a mom that WILL adjust her parenting as I grow older.

  15. Laura says...

    As a teenager, when I left the house for school, work, going to friends houses-whatever it was-my dad would say “i love you, be smart”. Hearing that often was a great reminder of all the lessons and hopes my parents had for me to make good decisions for myself. I have young children, but will use that phrase with them when its time.

  16. Heidi E says...

    #20 gives me life. SO true.

  17. Rosa says...

    I have two daughters, one is 13 and one is 16. Sometimes I feel like the absolute worst mother in the world and sometimes I know that I must have done something right because my girls are pretty good little women. I get compliments all the time about how kind hearted they are. I few things that I’ve taught them are,
    * don’t let yourself get caught up in situations that can come back to haunt you i.e. bullying & fighting, because people will judge you and it won’t be pretty.
    * To offset that, I’ve also told my youngest daughter that sometimes you might have to just schmuck someone who won’t leave you alone. (she always says “Aww mom, I can’t do that” but sometimes the things that happen to her just make me mad as heck).
    *There are always two sides to every situation and to put yourself in the other persons shoes. Basically, be empathetic.
    * When there is an elder standing then you shouldn’t be sitting and by the way, ask them if they’d like some tea.
    * Don’t wait to be asked to start helping someone. Many hands make light work.
    * Learn to drive, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever learned to do.
    * You can do what ever you want to do in life, as long as you’re doing something. By that I mean, be a hairdresser if that is what will make you happy, go to art school, go to University straight out of high school and become a social worker or take a gap year and try your hand at working before going to post secondary. Just don’t sit back at home doing nothing because time will pass no matter what.
    * Do your research.

  18. Lisa says...

    This is wonderful / terrifying! My daughter is currently 10 months so this is a long way away but this:
    “1. Get as much sleep as you can before they turn 13, because then the sleepless nights really begin.”
    Please no! She hasn’t slept more than 3 hours in a row for months, so I need to believe that one day I will sleep again.

    On the one hand I’m really looking forward to her being older and being able to do things like go for coffee, chat but she’s so adorable and it flea so fast.

    • Nicole says...

      I know the desperation (& insanity!) that comes with a little one that doesn’t sleep. My now 4.5-year-old didn’t fully sleep through the night until he was 14 months old and I felt confident that I would never regain my sanity. I’m still not *entirely* sure I have ;) BUT it does get better! Eventually it passes. And you actually somehow forget how exhausted you were to the core of your being. I’m not saying it’s easy AT ALL, but sending hugs from somehow who has been through it. You can make it through & you’ll be ok!

      Also… if you have another, I wish that you will be blessed with a good sleeper, as I was. It is infinitely more manageable and also helps to you realize how much of this parenting thing is out of our hands!

  19. Candice says...

    #16 is super comforting to me. Thanks.

  20. I told my son, If you’re going to do something stupid, do it here at home

  21. Megan says...

    #22. At least once a day, look her in the eye, smile and tell your teen, “I love you.”

  22. Karen says...

    So true! I also say to myself over and over “prefrontal cortex not fully developed.”

    • Jessica says...

      hahaha love that!

  23. Yvonne says...

    I always told my children, “You can talk to me about anything, not matter what it is – good or bad. But as your parent, I reserve the right to freak out first, and after I am finished freaking out, I will come back to you and talk to you about whatever it is that is bothering you. Okay?” So when they would come to me, they would say, “Mom, remember when you said we could talk to you anything, good or bad?” I would look at them and ask, “Is this something I want to hear?” And depending on their response, I would take a deep breath and then say, “Okay. But remember the rule: I am your parent first. Okay? So go ahead. Fire away. I’m ready.” And because they trusted me, and allowed me to prepare myself, I very rarely flipped out – but hey, nobody’s perfect. Sometimes I would lose my mind. But, because they were honest, and forthcoming, we were usually able to work it out. And if not, then there were the occasional month-long, no phone calls, come straight home, no going out at all, groundings.

  24. E Oh. says...

    I’m going to make sure to let my daughter know that it is OK for her to be nothing like me. I’m much more quiet and not as outgoing or social compared to my mom. She has made it known at times and it’s made me feel like my personality is somehow not good enough. I don’t ever want to make my daughter feel that way.

    • Neha M says...

      I know exactly what you mean – being the quiet daughter of two very outgoing parents who were embarrassed I wouldn’t chat freely in parties with their friends or participate in extended-family talent shows. I don’t have a daughter but would only show negative reactions to her personality if she was hurting others somehow, not if she was just being herself.

  25. Lauren E. says...

    Why am I crying? I don’t have teenage girls but I do remember that I was a terrible teen myself, and my mom tried SO hard. Gonna give her a call tonight and apologize :)

  26. Bethany says...

    I’m in my 30s now, but I remember as a teenager hearing so much negativity about that age group. I mentioned this to my mom and her response was, “I love teenagers, I think they’re great. I think you’re great, and I think your friends are great.” Knowing I had that acceptance and was still loveable made a big difference in those angsty years.

    • Jaden says...

      Oh I love this. I remember being a teen and feeling honestly very hurt every time I heard an adult chuckle and say “oh, teenagers are just AWFUL, aren’t they??” when I felt like I was a pretty okay kid. I also felt like my mom expected me to be awful, so she would go into interactions with me with that obvious expectation (already defensive) and I remember being so offended she didn’t think more highly of me.

  27. Marissa says...

    Thank you. Thank you a million times. I am mom to a 3 and 5 year old AND a 13 year old step-daughter. More posts on parenting in the teenage years would remind me that I am not alone in navigating this teen stage and beyond. It is so hard and so lovely to read this post which made me laugh out loud as I realized how much I could relate.

  28. Laurie Mobley says...

    I loved this post since I’m a dedicated Dinner: A Love Story reader too. As the mom of two boys age 9 & 11 that don’t seem to be in a huge hurry to grow up (yes!), I’m hopeful to see a list for boys soon. It also made me think of this Real Simple essay by the brilliant Elizabeth Egan about teenage boys and skateboarding that I sent around to friends with a note of “look what’s coming…” she also takes a more positive bent which I appreciate! I first read about Elizabeth Egan on Dinner: a Love Story so it comes full circle.
    https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/family/kids-parenting/defense-teenagers-elisabeth-egan

  29. Folklady says...

    I told my son and daughter (both in their mid-30s now), “If you’re going to do something stupid, do it here at home, where it’s safe.” They could bring their friends to experiment with them, their friends could sleep off a hang-over, but they could not be on the road, driving, at a “friend’s” home.”
    My other tip – don’t over-react. When a teen is trying to push that reaction button, normalize the situation and let go.

  30. Jess says...

    Each time we would leave the house, one of my friend’s dad would say “Be good. And if you can’t be good, be careful.”

  31. Caroline says...

    As an older mother, I’d like to add that for most families, it really boils down to RESPECT. They will need guidance and comfort, but they are their own people, just as we parents are. And they don’t suddenly become different people! They are just separating from us, as they must. If you have been a respectful parent and continue to be, not violating their trust or privacy, being open to all conversations while maintaining your boundaries and expectations for their respectful behavior (with you and in the world), they will grow into their own best people.

    I really HATE how people tend to talk about teenage girls as difficult, impossible, so much harder than boys–that is SEXISM speaking.

    And a small bit of advice: let your teens have the last word most of the time. Don’t give up your expectations or consequences, but let them let off a little steam and frustration in those hard conversations by saying that disagreeable thing or being a bit angry or sassy. They have heard you and are digesting your advice or limitations on their behavior. But they are trying to save their dignity and express their unhappiness with reality. Let them.

    • Rita says...

      Those are wise words!! I still have toddlers but could relate so much to my teenage years and letting steam off even though I knew my parents were right! 😊

    • Heather says...

      I especially love your tip about letting teens have the last word sometimes. What a difference that might have made with me as a difficult teen who was also a verbal processor!

  32. Meg says...

    As a mom of teenagers this post has been on my mind and there are such great comments! I’ve been reflecting on the best things my mom did to help me as a teen and this one has stood out.

    My mother ALWAYS explained the “why” behind her decisions. When the inevitable cry would boom “but why mom?!” she’d honor my capacity to understand and take the time to give me a true, non-snarky, answer. I’ll never forget one day when she said to me, “You know how I always answer when you ask me why? I do it so you’ll trust that I have good reasons. Someday I might have to say no/yes for no other reason than that I’m your mom and my intuition or heart is telling me something. Or maybe I have a good reason but I know you won’t be able to understand. I hope in those moments, when my reasons feel inexplicable, that you’ll be able to trust me.” The funny thing is I can count on one hand the times I asked why and my mother responded with “because I’m your mom.” But those moments stopped me in my tracks and made it easy to obey without protest. I trusted my mother because of the million times she’d proven herself before. I knew if she didn’t have an openly logical answer it was because there was a more powerful reason brewing beneath the surface that even she couldn’t explain… but was certainly motivated by love.

    I try to honor my children’s “why” so I have equity with them for down the road for the moments when it’s impossible to explain or understand.

    • Anna says...

      Makes so much sense– I love this advice. Thanks to your mom and thanks to you for sharing!

    • H says...

      I feel like this is so important. That really honors their personhood and prepares them to one day be the adult.

    • Heather says...

      This is absolutely brilliant. I tend to be vague and impatient and didn’t even really think about it. :(

    • Heidi E says...

      This right here is KEY. Brought me to tears because I do this with my daughter (13) and it’s wonderful to see someone on the grown side of it. It’s worked for us with advice too. I’ve made it clear that I don’t lie to her and have her best interest in mind when giving her advice. Starting when she was lower elementary, I’d advise her about all the things (friendships, school, sports, etc.) and then let her choose whether she wanted to take it or not (that’s the hard part). Sometimes she would and sometimes she wouldn’t, but since she was young, the stakes were way lower. The times where she didn’t take my advice ended up turning out just how I had guided her that it would. And she can recognize that on her own. So now, when I give her advice on things that matter more and she’s not mature enough to understand the why of my advice, I simply ask her if she trusts me, which she does. And then I remind her that I have her best interest in mind and give her sound advice. A great example we have is the phone. She is still phoneless while her friends on 4 years in. She doesn’t have social media either. I know in my gut that for her, it’s not the right time. She used to fight me on it SO MUCH and I would explain the things I could and ask her to please trust me. Just this year, she told me about some of the reasons that she’s glad she’s not been allowed to get a phone and has learned that though it’s really hard and against what she would choose for herself, she’s glad that I have her best (not easiest) long term interest in mind.

  33. Courtney says...

    My mom spent her career as a high school teacher, giving her valuable insights into the inner workings of teenagers. Although I didn’t always want her sage wisdom, one piece of advice always stuck – ask yourself, “will it matter in five years?” As a teenager, five years seems like forever away, so it helps put problems in perspective when you consider that the failed test, the awkward dance, the missed party, the fight with a friend, etc., will be water under the bridge in five years when you’re going to be off on your next adventure. Although five years no longer seems quite so long these days, I still put this advice to work on a regular basis when stressed about a situation.

  34. Melaine says...

    My daughter is almost 13 and I have to say I enjoy being her mom now more than I ever have. Sure she’s complicated and can be moody, but she’s also hysterical and relatable, something I never felt when she was a baby or young child.

    Here is my two cents on raising a teenage girl: One, read the book ‘Untangled’ by Lisa Damour, it has saved my sanity on more than one occasion. Two, be open. Some of the things teens say will make you cringe, just remember you probably said and thought worse when you were her age. Try not to be too judgemental. And three, and this is a bit of advice from ‘Untangled’, always volunteer to drive your daughter and her friends when you can. For some reason kids think you don’t listen to their chit-chat in the car. It’s a really good way to find out what’s going on without prying.

  35. Blythe says...

    Jenny, I printed up and shared this list with my tenth grade students. I asked them to respond to one piece of advice– something they disagreed with, agreed with or had a story about. I also asked them to add one piece of their own advice for parents of teens. I wasn’t planning on having them share, but they insisted! It was such a good, unexpected conversation (that ended up lasting the entire class period) and I hope they continue it tonight at home. As a matter of fact, roughly 2/3 of the kids asked if I could make them a copy to share with their parents! As the mother of two young girls, I plan on tucking it away for myself as well. Thanks for such a pertinent piece.

    • DFearn says...

      I love this! What a great discussion point for class. I would have really adored your class that day as a teen.

    • Susan says...

      I want to know what they said!!!

    • Jackie says...

      What subject do you teach? This sounds like such a fun class period!

    • Blythe says...

      They spoke mostly about #10, 18 and 19. Something interesting on #10: they clarified that even if it IS a phase, it isn’t a phase to THEM, it’s their life and therefore should be treated with care. And one girl pointed out that, “It isn’t always a phase” especially when it comes to sexuality… and to act as if it is comes across as dismissive. #19 was another big discussion point: they spoke about all the weight they feel, between social media and school expectations. It wasn’t anything I didn’t already know, but it was still powerful. Thanks for the compliments– I teach high school English, 6 classes of upwards of 25 kids in each class. This particular class was a very reflective, very curious Pre-AP class . Our future is bright!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this is incredible, blythe! thank you so, so much for sharing.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Blythe, this is amazing! I’m dying to hear what they said. Can you give us highlights??

    • Blythe says...

      On a personal note, as a longtime reader of both of your blogs, I’m kind of fan-girling right now ;)

    • Lizzy says...

      Such a great suggestion! I’m a high school English teacher as well in the Netherlands and interested to hear what kids have to say on the matter. Will definitely be using this article.
      (Also fantastic read as a mother of a girl who is now only 5, but who will be 15 next week haha)

  36. Lisa says...

    When I was a teenager I had a lot of anxiety, mostly related to not being enough. Not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, skinny enough. Whenever I was freaking out about something, my mom used to tell me: “no one is sick and no one is dead, it can be fixed and/or in a few years time you will not even remember this happened”. It made me realise that although teenage problems are very real, they are not the end of the world. Life moves on and you will not be a teenager forever. My parents also had very few rules for me and my sister, and we didn’t have to tell them everything – but they did tell us the following: 1. No drugs, ever. 2. Never leave a friend/go somewhere alone. If you drink and get in trouble, come home or bring the friend home, just never leave each other. 3. Once it’s on the internet it’s on the internet forever. No nudes. Seriously. 4. Condoms.
    They realised that at some point we will drink, have sex, do all the stuff adults do, but with the lack of experience for consequences they had to give us some rules that were non-negotiable. Also if your teenager screws up, don’t get angry. If they know you’ll get angry they will try to hide it, if they know you will try to help them they will tell you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love your pat about not getting angry if they screw up. reminds me of my mom’s approach, where she always said, “nothing you could ever do or say would make me not love you.” she would even give outlandish examples: “even if you robbed a bank, you could come to me and we would figure it out.” i’m now trying to do that with my own children and just hope it’s working. xoxo

      https://cupofjo.com/2017/11/best-motherhood-advice/

  37. Emily says...

    I love the teens and I love this post! I would add this: Don’t project your own lingering adolescent insecurities and anxieties onto your children. I still proudly call myself a band nerd (dorkestra) and I *hated* high school with the heat of ten-thousand suns. HOWEVER, my daughter has social graces and athletic ability that I never possessed. She’s even a cheerleader – a cheerleader! (My friends who knew me as a teen still laugh their asses off about that). I can’t redo my own angsty years – thank God -, but I can do this: I can teach my child that the other kids in school matter. They may not wear the right clothes, they may be shy and awkward, they may have disabilities, but they have rich lives, including inner lives, and they deserve respect and empathy. In turn, she has taught me that the “cool” kids have the same problems that we all have: anxiety, abuse, awkwardness, divorce, shame, insecurity, etc. and if you take the time to get to know someone, they are often delightful.

    Raising teenagers is a gift.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I love this so much, Emily. And I cannot wait to use the word “dorkestra.” (Am I the dork here who has never heard that. Hilarious.) Thank you for commenting!

  38. Allison says...

    I love Jenny’s writing so much. This definitely applies to the teen boy too.