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. Jesika says...

    Number 21 sends my heart to my throat and my girls are only 3 and 1.

    This is so good. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Robin says...

    I’d add “I love you” every time you or she leaves the house and, of course, at bedtime. These days, it’s my bedtime before hers but you get the drift.

  3. Rue says...

    I love EVERYTHING about this. It’s also hard to read and realize some of the gaps in my own upbringing, including stuff I’m now sorting out in therapy “thanks” to my PTSD diagnosis. (I survived acute trauma as an adult, but there’s a lot of connections between what I went through a few years ago and ways my family wasn’t supportive when I was growing up. Those connections are scary/important to work through, friends.)

    I also want to give a HUGE amen to the comment about (not) emailing your kid’s college professors!! I’m a college professor myself and it is so clear to me, when I meet these bright eyed 18-22 year olds, who has been given tools to learn independence. DO THIS for your kids and you will set them up so well for a meaningful life. Teenagers who don’t learn how to be independent become young adults who actually can’t benefit from the experiences they have. Your kid may as well not go to college, if your kid isn’t going to be the one navigating the failures and successes firsthand.

  4. Heather says...

    I love Jenny. I have actually teared up reading her cookbook (cookbook crying!!) feeling so understood as a mother. I read everything she writes about motherhood with eyes and heart wide open, because I sense her wisdom and intuition goes far beyond broccoli.

    But I did have a bit of an appetite yesterday for something more in keeping with the rage I am feeling about Kavanaugh. For those of you in the same boat, maybe try this:
    https://www.thecut.com/2018/09/kavanaugh-sexual-assault-deborah-ramirez-christine-ford.html

  5. Danielle says...

    I’m 31 and there are moments I still apologize to my mom for how awful of a teenager I was! There’s just some much going on inside of you, your mind, and your environment and she’s unfortunately who you take it out on. We now have the best relationship ever — she truly is my best friend. I call her when I’m happy, sad, excited, etc. Each morning on my walk to work we catch up on each other’s day, lives, struggles, etc.

    I’m really so proud of her — she’s a full-time nurse, raised four children, has three grandchildren, and a great marriage. She truly does it all.

  6. Elizabeth says...

    My mother’s advice: “You need to be kind…but you never have to be nice.”

    This of course, was followed by a life long discussion and many, many examples of what each of those two meant. Kindness meant taking soup to someone who’s sick, giving up your seat on the train to someone juggling three kids and groceries. Nice meant those obligations that women feel to “be nice” that often put us at risk.

    • Nikki says...

      i LOVE this!

    • Nichole says...

      yes yes yes!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love love love this.

  7. Very inspirational. Thank you. My Daughter is turning 16 and it is scaring the living daylights out of me :)

  8. This post made me cry. Love you, Jenny. Your girls are so lucky to have you!

  9. Trisha says...

    With all the Cyber bullying that exists, I remind my kids that there is nothing they will ever do or not do that will make me love them any less. Never, anything, ever. Repeat it as much as necessary to remind them those things that seem like the end of the world are not.

  10. Sarai says...

    I know you probably don’t mean this, but I really dislike the tone of this whole piece. I would feel hurt if my mom wrote this about me. The half jokey complaining tone doesn’t land at all. Healthy normal teenagers are such a burden! Come on.
    I especially don’t like the coded comments about your daughters’ eating habits/issues. They are old enough for it this to be disrespectful of them and their privacy. I don’t think this was the right choice for this site, Joanna, and I won’t read other pieces by this author.

    • Bec says...

      I didn’t get any of that from this post at all. She’s embracing having daughters and sharing things she’s learnt along the way while also saying they aren’t hard and fast rules. IDK I read the post as if she treats her daughters with care and respect and the comments around eating seemed pretty everyday. I enjoyed reading this post and look forward to more from the author.

    • Brooke Reynolds says...

      I’ve never met Jenny, but I’ve read several of her books and her articles and love her writing style. She writes with a lot of joy and humor about parenting and it’s evident to me how much she loves her family. Even if you didn’t enjoy her tone in this article, I’d read more of her articles before writing her off completely and boycotting her work.

  11. Kate says...

    As a mom of an 18 month old girl, I love this post! I often think of what she will be like at 18 and this is insightful.

    I have to respectfully disagree with many of the comments about Kavanaugh etc. Not everything needs to be political. And there are many of us here who are not American, and while we are informed about current affairs, they don’t need to influence every post we read.

  12. RB says...

    Money! Your financial well-being matters. It’s ok to value money. And make sure you can to support yourself, in case no one else does. My teenage nieces seem to think that pursuit of money is unethical, or involves compromising their morals.

    • Kelly says...

      Omg yes to this!!! The number of teenage girls who babysit for me and can’t confidently tell me their rate or worse tell me, no charge, bc we’re family/friends and I love your kids – even when I booked them for a babysitting JOB. Girls – it’s ok to know your worth and ask for a fair rate for whatever job you take on!!!

  13. val says...

    Great rules! I find it very frustrating when people act like raising a daughter is so much harder than raising a son. It seems so sexist — especially when people act like they have to fend off teenage boys for their daughters. That’s why I love this New Yorker essay “If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth”

    https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/if-you-ever-hurt-my-daughter-i-swear-to-god-ill-let-her-navigate-her-own-emotional-growth

    I also love the Gloria Steinem quote -“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” I’d love to hear from a mom who is raising teenage sons to be emotionally intelligent and respectful of boundaries especially in these difficult times with terrible role models like our president.

    • Amy says...

      That essay! I love it & just forwarded it to my husband.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that article!

    • Kelly says...

      I’m not raising anybody yet, but I have teen in-laws, one boy and one girl, and I’ve been in their lives nearly a decade. I’ve always worked hard on making them feel seen and important, not assigning chores along gendered lines, and talking to both of them about emotional intelligence, consent, and respecting others bodily autonomy and pronouns.

      Not only are they wonderful people, it’s clear they’ve been listening and noticing for much longer than I thought they were. They are both so empathetic and sweet, and it’s exactly what I hoped for for them.

  14. What a fantastic post – so insightful!

    Rebecca

  15. Robyn says...

    I have 2 teenage daughters and 2 teenage boys. It’s a delight (peppered with worry)!

    – Play together. Cards, puzzles, go for a run, kick a soccer ball, float the river, play pool. Whatever. Just play.

    – Work together. In the garden, in the kitchen, fold the laundry, make the bed, build a shelf for their room. Whatever. Just work on a project together.

    – Have them teach you something. They are better than you at something. They have a skill you don’t have. They have knowledge and insight that will benefit you. Listen, learn, and thank them.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these are really lovely tips, thank you so much, robyn.

    • Stacy says...

      I love the suggestion to have your teenager teach you something. Especially if they can also teach an older sibling, too. I can remember a pivotal moment in my son’s high school years when he explained a difficult math concept to me and his older sister. I could almost physically see his confidence grow.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s beautiful, stacy.

  16. Liz says...

    Love this list, thanks, Jenny!

    When we were teenagers, my (still!) best friend’s dad said the same thing to her every time she left the house: Remember who you are and what you represent. She was embarrassed and annoyed by this (obviously), but at the same time, I think it was a helpful mantra to have when going out on her own. On our own, I should say, since twenty years later I can recall his message with such clarity.

  17. Daisy says...

    Such a lovely post. I had a lovely mom but there were times when I was counting the number of days to graduate from high school so that I could go off to college and get away from it all. Right after I graduated from high school, I attempted suicide and was somehow saved. I can’t imagine the agony I must have put my Parents and especially my mom through. I have always thought of my pain, but not so much from my Parent’s perspective but if they had lost me, not sure what would have happened to my mom. Teenage is hard and really wish the teens and Parents have access to mental health wellness routinely.

    • Nikki says...

      You are so strong. I hope you are getting better. Hugs!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      daisy, thank you so much for sharing. you have been through so much. i’m so sorry for those incredibly hard times. you sound like an incredible person. xoxo

  18. Lindsay says...

    I’m so frustrated to see the comments about nude photos — and not one but two. In light of everything going on right now, it feels especially tone deaf to shame young women for their sexuality. Where is the post telling boys to respect girls? I’m so so so disappointed in this.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for your note. i appreciate your feedback and i’ve been thinking about it. my perspective was that she’s guiding her daughters to think about the potential effects of sharing nude photos with others — not at all saying that girls and women shouldn’t have fulfilling, exploratory sex lives. i think parents can celebrate girls’ and women’s sexuality while still helping them feel safe and confident and make choices that are right for them.

      one example i’d love to share: my mom bought me a book about sex when i was in high school — The Magic of Sex — and it covered contraception, troubleshooting, different positions, so many things. she talked to me about contraception and trusting my gut in every situation and staying safe at parties, etc. i was so grateful that she was celebrating my developing sexuality while also helping me make educated choices that fit with my own philosophies, desires and life.

      i hope that perspective makes sense. and here’s one of our past posts about teaching boys to respect girls, something i feel so passionately about, as well: https://cupofjo.com/2017/04/how-to-teach-kids-consent/

      thank you so much for your note, lindsay!

    • Marianne says...

      I agree but the problem is that it is the men between 30-40 who spread illigal pictures the most! So it many boys who is not learning this. A wise teenager once told me that to tell girls not to send pictures to their boyfriend is the same as blaming the girl with a mini-skirt for her being raped. But I can’t NOT tell my daughter to not send pictures anyway, becuase there are stupid people in the world…

    • Emily L says...

      I feel like I understand your point of view, but I feel like encouraging girls not to send nude photos isn’t the same as shaming them. You can explore your sexuality without sending them out for potentially the world to see! While we shouldn’t have to protect ourselves, the reality of the internet is that we actually do.

      I think it would be great to see a follow up essay on things to say to teenage boys.

    • Caroline says...

      I understand your concern too, girls shouldn’t be shamed ever for being humans. With that said, I took it as the author speaking to something different.

      When I was a teenager, my mom always said that your brain isn’t fully developed until about 25, and you’ll change a lot as a person until then (and this resonated with me, being a reason-based person). Therefore, when she spoke to us about general teenage lack of foresight, it made sense; our brains are still figuring it out, so it’s okay if we’re still figuring it out, too. I think the author is trying to explain that something that may seem controlled now could easily become out of control later, causing regret. A quick text may seem harmless, if you can’t imagine all the possible ramifications. It also implies the future me may not be okay with the risks that today me is taking.

      Hearing that from my mom also let me put things in perspective at that age too, and now it’s a gift to realize some of those regrettable teenage moments maybe weren’t really ‘me’. I don’t know if it’s true or not about age 25, but I don’t think that was the important part of the lesson.

  19. I LOVE this post. From someone who doesn’t have kids but will some day embark on raising girls (hopefully!). This made me giggle and reminiscence on my own time as a teenager.

  20. Daynna says...

    Just PLEASE write here more often!! This is wonderful and your writing is so damn good and funny and refreshing!

  21. Mary says...

    “mom you sound like michael scott” ummmmm thank you thats the greatest compliment of all time!!

  22. Christine says...

    Every teen needs to know this:
    Digitally sharing naked pictures of a minor other than yourself is considered distribution of child pornography. Your teenage son or daughter could become a registered sex offender FOR LIFE if they ever get a naked Snapchat and share it.
    Never, ever, ever share naked photos of your friends. Ever.

    • Laura says...

      Yes, kids do not understand the consequences of this. My daughter overheard a girl who was a freshman saying ” oh I just sent my boyfriend a picture of me topless and I’m sure he will share it with others”

  23. Alison says...

    One of the best things my dad ever did for me was telling me to make him the “bad guy”. If I ever felt pressure from peers to drink or do drugs… if I didn’t want to go to a party, but knew I’d get teased if I just said “no”… really anything I didn’t want to do, I could just say “Sorry guys, my dad won’t let me.” “My dad has strict curfew.” Whatever it was. It was one less thing I had to stress about as a teen and kept me from dealing with some un-fun confrontations. After all, who was really going to confront my dad about the truth of these statements? He was pretty scary in their mind!

    • Kate says...

      Alison, this was my teenage years, but it was my mom! She told me that if something made me uncomfortable, I could always leave or say no and blame her. She was relatively strict and my friends saw that first hand, which helped me sell it when I needed to escape a situation I didn’t want to be in. :) (I once had a party at my house when I was 15, and a bunch of my “friends” decided to walk to the Dairy Queen a mile away at night. My mom drove to find them, picked them up, and told them “your parents think you’re at my house so you need to be at my house until they pick you up.” I was MORTIFIED AND SO MAD. But now I absolutely get it.)

      I didn’t use the “my mom won’t let me” card very often, especially as I got farther into high school and found better friends, but there was something very reassuring about having that in my pocket. And it made me feel very protected and cared for. I knew my mom was on my team, and in a time when friendships are dicey and dramatic and always changing, that consistency was huge.

  24. Tiffany says...

    I love this! My daughter is 11 weeks old but I’m book marking this for the future! :)

  25. Jessica says...

    The only thing I would add is to tell them to spend their time and energy on the people who make them feel good. Most of us waste too much time on relationships–platonic or romantic–that are hurtful. Learning early that that’s not okay is important!

  26. Tracy says...

    To add to the “escape hatch” idea (which is truly priceless, by the way – my daughter’s escape is her horse. No matter how much money I spend on her equestrian pursuits, I do it gladly, knowing that she is braver, stronger and oh so much more confident because of it) I would also suggest a text message escape hatch. My two teens know that if at any time they text me a secret message that we have pre-selected, I will pick them up immediately, no questions asked. And I think the no questions asked part is key here. If they know they might get interrogated in the car, they may hesitate to text me, and I always want to be their escape hatch if/when they find themselves in any uncomfortable or dangerous situation.

  27. laura says...

    when doing math homework – you can say any word you want- as filthy as you can get – when you are so frustrated that it is curse or cry or yell at someone- so can the parent who is supporting your by sitting by your side- it takes the edge off, and usually leaves us in a pile of giggles instead of annoyed at each other- and the homework gets done. my daughter has been impressed with my crazy vocabulary!!!!!

    • Judy says...

      I absolutely love this and will be using this with my 12 and 15 year-olds. Thank you! :)

  28. Shannon says...

    Always love Jenny’s take on things. I have little kids, but someday they will be big kids. Shared this with every mom I know … Love.

  29. Brenna Wong says...

    I lost my Mum before I had my children, now 6,4 and 2. I love this community of women sharing their thoughts and advice. I often think of how she raised me with such respect, I never lied to her, never got into any crazy mischief and knew she was always there for me no matter what but would also call me out if I needed it.
    Thanks Jenny and CupofJo for this village of Mothers.

  30. Lindsay Kern says...

    My daughter is five and this is AGONIZING to read. Parenting is so hard! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Jenny! You know your stuff!

    • Christine says...

      My so is five and my daughter is two and this made me CRY!!!! I’ve watched my sister raise three girls and it’s so so hard!! Being a teen is hard, but being the parent of one….whew!

  31. Kate says...

    Never ever ever agree to carry anything in your bra, in your purse, up your vagina ,in your backpack, in your car including your trunk, or to keep anything your home because a boy can’t/won’t carry it or keep it himself! If the boy can’t carry it or keep it neither should you!
    There are many women serving prison sentences because they agreed to “keep” or “carry” some illegal substance, a weapon or other illegal item for a guy!
    If you are stopped and searched , your car is stopped and searched , or your home is searched nobody is going to believe you did not know what it was,or that it wasn’t yours!
    Do not expect the boy to come forward and admit that it is his, or to tell the police that you did not know what was in your possession! This goes double for “nice boys” from “good families” whose parents and private attorneys will be concerned only with salvaging the boy’s bright future instead of yours!
    If you are stopped and questioned by the police: Be very polite!,provide your name address and telephone number. Ask if you are free to go. If the officer says you are free to go – leave the area immediately. If you are not free to go- even if the officer just wants to talk to you for a second then you are legally under arrest, and you are not obliged to say anything ! Shut up! Do not answer any questions, do not engage in conversation other than to ask for a lawyer and to provide your parent’s contact information! Remember the police officer is older than you, has more life experience than you and is trained to get information out of you! Just shut up! If they tell you all your friends are making deals and fingering you do not say anything just repeat your request for a lawyer and keep your mouth shut until you get a lawyer! Do not give in to the temptation to tell even one friend all about what happened to cause the police to become involved it – that one friend confronted by police questioning will not keep your confidence and their parents will not allow them to do so! Keep your mouth shut and talk only to your lawyer! I f you have information to share that you believe will cause everyone to understand your innocence tell your lawyer – he or she is the only person who is required to keep what you tell them confidential, and your lawyer is the person qualified to tell you what to do or say! Unless you are talking to your lawyer – KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!

    • Alex says...

      This sounds like advice earned the hard (only) way… but solid advice for sure.

    • Marion says...

      I love this reply! So practical and smart as hell.

    • Daynna says...

      This is all great help, thank you. But goodness. I hope your daughter is okay and that the situation was resolved without harsh jail time.

    • L says...

      I have the strangest sensation that this was written by my mother!

    • Katherine says...

      As a lawyer mom – AMEN!!

  32. Ali says...

    The escape hatch! I love that term.
    I moved when I was 8 and my best friend and I kept in touch – thanks mostly to our Mums now that I look back! She was my escape hatch and I hers through school, no matter what crap was going on in our separate friend groups or lives, our friendship was one that we could always find solace in. And still is!

  33. J says...

    I love so much of this list and understand its intent not to be taken too seriously and with a grain of salt. I just have to say that #3/4 really didn’t hit me right. I was girl in my late teens (19- a legal adult)-early 20’s who did send photos of myself that I ‘wouldn’t want on the front of the New York Times’. I was in a monogamous, long term, long distance relationship with someone I loved deeply (not that that should matter). When it all fell apart he immediately threatened to share those photos with my employer, parents, friends, and the internet. I cannot fully describe the fear and horror that came over me in that moment. This was a person I had trusted and he was going to try and use my naked body, that I had trusted him with, to humiliate me and ruin my future. Thankfully, in that moment, my only thought was ‘I need my mom’ and despite advise from many friends not to tell my parents I called her and sobbed as I told her the whole messily ordeal. Even more thankfully my mom’s response wasn’t ‘well that’s what you get’ or even ‘I told you so’; my mother turned into the fiercest moma bear you have ever seen, gave me a script of what to say to him, contacted our family lawyer and let me know that I did not deserve what was happening to me and I would be ok. In the end her fierce words, spoken in my shaky voice, were all it took for this boy to back off and apologize. So, while I understand the humor in this article and absolutely love cup of jo and Jenny and her blog/books (my mother bought me both) this particular message at this particular point in time feels a little irresponsible. I hope my comment is taken with the respect I intend. All the best.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for your comment, J, and for sharing your story. i’m so sorry that happened, it sounds so hard and stressful. i think jenny would advise her daughters not to send nude photos for that exact reason — you never know what will happen — but that if they did, she would be the fierce mama bear that your wonderful mother was. personally, i do and will tell my children not to do certain things (jump off a high wall, go off with a stranger, etc.) but if they DID and something happened, i would 100% protect and support them, always. i hope this makes sense. i think we’re actually aligned. thank you again for sharing your story. xoxoxo

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I’m so sorry that happened and I’m so sorry that my tone struck the wrong note with you. Hopefully my daughters know that if they had to deal with a situation that scary that they’d turn to their parents who would react exactly the way your mom did. What I should’ve squeezed in somewhere in this post (and that a few commenters have suggested themselves) is that one of the most important things is to do whatever you can to keep the lines of communication open. Teach, advise, nag, fight….but at the end of the day, forgive and support and protect. When I wrote at the end that they should feel as though they can call me at “ANY hour of the night for LITERALLY ANYTHING” I hope they know it’s true for their whole lives. I’m glad you wrote. Thank you again.

    • gfy says...

      O my gosh, congratulations to you AND your mother and PLEASE, for the love and education of all future teen girls (and their mother’s), please share that script here! Thanks in advance!

    • J says...

      Thank you both so much for your thoughtful responses. As I said, I’m a big fan of both of your works and meant my comment with the utmost respect; you are both clearly excellent mothers and it wasn’t my intent to criticize your parenting at all. I think I felt compelled to comment because the digital, ‘forever’ aspect (whether it be photos, texts, social media or some crazy other new thing that I know nothing about) is a very real part of dating for young people and it’s an element many parents have not had to navigate. The threat of ‘revenge porn’ is a threat of sexual assault but it’s one that is not only legally murky at this point in time but is culturally as well because it’s not as ‘well established’ as more physical forms of assault. To your point Jenny- having an open field of discussion is the best solve as parents and teens try and navigate this new unknown together. I also think having personal stories to set examples is helpful as well, which is also why I share. My mother is an educator of pre-teen and teenagers and has used my personal experience (edited to be age appropriate of course) to help give these young adults some insight into how to navigate towards their future.

    • Kara says...

      I’m so sorry that happened to you, and I came here to second your discomfort with parts of this list, even though I understand its intended tone. I disagree that a young women should be told to “never take nudes.” It’s her body; she can take whatever pictures of it she wants. It’s a perfectly normal mode of sexual expression in people. The vulnerability that comes with sharing those photos is something to be discussed openly and clearly without shame- as well as lots of dialogue around where those photos are stored. (Physical hard drives, never the cloud!) There seems to be a lot of sex negativity in this piece (as well as some off-the-cuff stuff about drugs and alcohol) which, to be frank, is a safety hazard. If you keep a hardline with your kids on any behaviors that include risk, they will be alone and uninformed when making those choices.

    • Ella says...

      I would also always tell my daughter not to send nudes
      BUT
      I once read, at least take pictures without the head.

    • KL says...

      I agree with a fellow poster, please share the script! I’m so sorry you had to go through that, but I’m glad you were able to talk to your mom about it and that you were strong (even if you didn’t feel that way at the time)!

    • Elizabeth R. says...

      I do not mean to speak for J; but I still think Jenny’s and Joanna’s replies are somewhat missing the point in response to this comment. First of all, J, I believe you, I am sorry this happened to you, and I hope you are getting the support you need from your wonderful Mom and anybody else you need. Secondly, I am a survivor myself, from a very different situation. Third of all, the point is that we should be able to trust the men in our lives. We need to teach our sons NOT to send out revenge nudes, rape, molest, etc, etc, etc, etc. The larger point is that we have to start, younger and younger, teaching our sons about clear consent etc.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, 100% , elizabeth. thank you for your thoughtful comment. i do still think we are all very much aligned here. we’ve written about teaching boys about consent/kindness/empathy/etc many times, and i think it’s an absolutely critical part of raising boys. here’s a post you may enjoy: https://cupofjo.com/2017/04/how-to-teach-kids-consent/

      thank you so much for your thoughtful comment xo

    • MK says...

      J, I’m so glad you spoke up, and I’m so sorry this happened to you and it absolutely was not your fault.
      #3 also immediately hit me in exactly the wrong way. I think it perpetuates the notion that the onus is on women and girls to avoid being betrayed and humiliated by boys and men. This idea is part of rape culture- dress a certain way, don’t stay out late, don’t drink too much, etc etc etc. It is inherently victim blaming.
      We’ve got to do better.
      I’ve also been a big fan of both Jenny and Joanna for a long time, and- I think they are both missing the point you are trying to make.

    • Maureen says...

      I am fascinated by the discourse on this and love how respectful everyone is being with their view of it. I am a 57 year old mother with 3 kids in their 20’s, 2 sons and a daughter. From my age and life experience, I had no problem with the #3 issue of not sending nude photos. To me it just made perfect sense… like the advice I gave my daughter to never to set her drink down when she was at a party or bar in college or after. Self-protection! But after reading yours and others point I can absolutely see your take on it. My one question is and I do respectfully mean this, after your experience what advice would you give on this topic to teenagers? And I think to people in their early 20’s in a relationship is a different audience than what the list was intended for initially…

    • I loved this post and am a big fan of Jenny’s blog and cookbooks! And J, this is such an important comment. I’m a lawyer mom (to a . . . spirited toddler daughter) who represents victims and survivors of “revenge porn” (in quotes because it’s not always about revenge, and it’s not necessarily porn), sexual assault and harassment, and lots of other horrible realities that women and girls face.

      Here’s a version of what I will tell my daughter when she’s older:
      * if you’re going to take an intimate photo, do your very best to hide identifying parts (face/scars/moles/hair);
      * take the image yourself, that way the copyright is yours;
      * identify an adult in your life (silent prayer that it’s me) that you would speak with immediately for help if said image(s) get out of your hands, because the sooner you take action, the better
      * if something happens, DO NOT delete anything, as much as you will want to, because a lawyer will want it
      * I love you and will never blame you.

      Good luck out there moms!

    • Sequoia says...

      Sorry I have to digress here. I agree with the not taking a photo you’d never want on the front page of a newspaper. Yes we need to teach boys/men to do and be better but they aren’t the only ways that these photos come back to haunt you.

      I had a friend lose a Blackberry once back when you could reset your password on the T-Mobile website and the person who did just that. The photos never surfaced but she knows they unlocked the phone (email confirmation) and lived in fear they’d show up somewhere for years.

      A friend of a friend had her sister take the photos her phone because it was newer and their little brother saw them when he asked to play a game on her phone (circa 2009 before kids had their own phones).

      My 48 year aunt had an iPhone that wouldn’t update and asked me to help her. After dinner at her house I plugged her phone in at the dining where my aunt, cousins, and two uncles were still chatting and plugged the phone in and looked away. I had to “trust this device” to update her phone and her photos began auto downloading and uncles saw her various stages of undress. She’s still awkward around them, this was 2012.

      Then there’s the girl from senior year of college who sent quite a few nudes to guy she wanted to entertain. She had a great body and so shame. However the guy wasn’t single and his girlfriend wasn’t having it, it got ugly quickly.

      My bestie and I exchange one of these stories at least once a month. It’s not about sexuality it’s about zero control over technology and by extension your body. Unless your goal is exploring and displaying your sexuality publicly I’d highly advise skipping it.

    • J says...

      A lot of you hit on what I was getting at with placing the blame and responsibility solely on girls and women so thank you for that.

      I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember the script my mom gave me- it’s been over 6 years now- and I can’t remember the exact words but I know she had me call and text it so it was both said verbally for the strongest impact and in writing for legal purposes. It was very straightforward statements with clear directives. Something to the effect of ‘you do not have my permission to show anyone or do anything the nude photos you have of me. You will delete every photo you have of me in which I am nude. You will stop contacting and harassing me, my friends and my family. If you do not stop contacting me I will file a police report. If even one other person is sent or shown a photo I did not consent to I will file a police report. You cannot intimidate me; I have done nothing wrong and this ends now.’ I remember her being very clear that I don’t ask him anything; he wasn’t doing me a favor by deleting the photos, he was doing what was right.

      Maureen- I’ve thought a lot about what I’d say given my experience. I do agree that the conversation between a teenager that is a minor is different; as someone pointed out in this thread there is a whole different set of legal issues when it’s a naked picture of an underage person even when the recipient is also a minor. However if the teenager is an adult I don’t think the approach should be that different from speaking about sexuality and sexual health in general. I believe that you’re ‘ready’ to have sex when you are comfortable, confident and mature enough to advocate for your own health and mental wellbeing. At that point the choices you make with what to do and who to trust are your own (backed with support, love and advice from your parents). Young adults need to be given the room to form their own moral compass. Having said that, I think that the advice from Iliana is also a great start for having a conversation with teens.

      Sequoia- I have to disagree with the conclusion you’re drawing from the examples you’ve provided. Obviously technology is not 100% safe but should one not use credit cards online? Or have Apple Pay set up on their phone? The ramifications of identity theft can be just as, if not more so, detrimental than nude photos on the internet. Further- should one not write embarrassing things in a journal because someone might accidentally (or purposely) read them and then they’d feel awkward? Arguing that one should not express themselves in private (as a phone is my private and personal possession) because something bad could happen is similar, as others have pointed out, that a woman should not go out at night in a short skirt because of the same reason.

      I absolutely love this community and the environment it foresters to have important conversations and courteous discourse. Also, thank you all so much for the kind words, I’m doing really well and am lucky to have had very strong support then and now.

  34. Michelle K says...

    The one thing I always say…”Are you venting? or asking for help?” This allows us both to know our role and how to engage. It’s helped a ton through the teenage years.

    • Sharon says...

      Yes! I always ask… are you wanting my opinion and thoughts on this or are you just telling me this to get it out?

    • Allison says...

      This applies in adult friendships too; I love the clarification, Michelle!

    • Holly says...

      The day I figured out to go to my mom with a problem if I wanted a hug/vent session/consoling and to go to my dad for a solution was potentially the brightest lightbulb to go off in my life. It may not be like that in every family, but with my parents’ personalities, experiences, etc. it works perfectly for us and saved me a lot of grief over the years.

    • ne says...

      love this!

    • Jenny Andrews Anderson says...

      THIS. just changed my life.

    • Amanda says...

      Ha! My husband and I say the same thing to each other. Asking if someone is venting or asking for help is huge!

  35. Katie says...

    Number 2. Number. My gosh number 2. I’m 38 and still occasionally take the bad day out on my mom. When it happens now I apologize because I know I’m being an asshole. But you know, she’s my mom and I’ll always feel like an insecure kid and she’s always there. Did I mention I’m 38? And married.

    • Christine says...

      Talk about money. Talk about debt, earnings, taxes, interest. Have them pay bills with you sometimes. Tell them how you’re going to – or not going to – pay for college. Talk to them about buying health insurance and how you’re saving for retirement. They don’t need to know all the ins and outs of managing money, but they need to be confident talking about it. With women and men alike. Just like their periods.

  36. I have taught middle school art (a place where a lot of kids feel free to express themselves) for 9 years now and one thing I’ve realized is that middle school girls want to complain to you sometimes just for the sake of complaining. They actually don’t want you to offer any suggestions on how to fix whatever problem or to offer advice. They just want to say the things and know someone is listening without interruption. My go to response is “okay.”

    One thing my mother instilled in me as a pre-teen/teenager/young adult was to “know my limit.” It helped me navigate a lot of situations and also avoid hangovers as a young adult. Two drinks y’all.

  37. My husband and I have been debating about whether or not we want to have more children (we currently have two daughters who are 6 and 4) I love catching Jenny’s instagram and seeing a glimpse of our possible life with our girls in 10 years. I loved her book about celebrations and creating family traditions. This list is amazing and I’m saving it!

  38. Sara says...

    I would add 2 things:
    1)Tell your teens it’s ok to use you as an excuse if they don’t want to do something with a friend. “Sorry, my mom (or dad) won’t let me.” or “Sorry, we have family plans.” They don’t need to know our family plans are to make popcorn and watch The Office together.
    2)Ask them to watch out for others. Being a teen is really hard, and social media makes it all public. If they’re worried about the safety of a friend or acquaintance for any reason — suspected depression, anxiety, alcohol or drug use or other risky behavior, have them tell you or another trusted adult. You can report it to a school counselor confidentially and leave your own student out of it. Then, do just that and don’t betray their trust.

    • Franny says...

      Yes!

    • Ann says...

      Great additions!

  39. Diana says...

    As a woman, longtime Cup of Jo reader and fan, and current law student, I would love to see, in addition to this more lighthearted post, one that thoughtfully engages with Dr. Blasey-Ford’s and Deborah Ramirez’s allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh.

    • Vero says...

      Yes please!

    • Jaidy says...

      Seriously. Appealing to ‘everyone’ has lost any meaning if we aren’t talking about real women’s issues in the world we now live in. I have a rape, 2 sexual assaults and an abusive marriage under my belt and I have 2 daughters. It’s time to get real, silence is tacit compliance.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for these notes! we strive to feature a balance of different kinds of topics: news/politics, more difficult parts of life (parenting challenges, mental health, loss, etc) and fun everyday topics (food, books, fashion, design, etc). we would love to write more about these issues you’re mentioning, thank you so much for the request. below are some past posts if you’d like to dig in, as well. thank you again for your feedback xoxo

      https://cupofjo.com/2018/06/suicide-isnt-selfish/
      https://cupofjo.com/tag/border-crisis/
      https://cupofjo.com/2016/10/raising-race-conscious-children/
      https://cupofjo.com/2017/04/how-to-teach-kids-consent/
      https://cupofjo.com/2013/11/motherhood-mondays-i-had-a-stillborn-baby/
      https://cupofjo.com/2015/11/miscarriage-stories/
      https://cupofjo.com/2015/08/sympathy-card-how-to-write/

    • Amy says...

      I agree. I can’t get what’s happening out of my head and it’s comforting to see other women feel the same way. Joanna, I loved your content so much during the separation of families at the border. While this current issue may feel like partisan politics, it still impacts us all as women, regardless of our political party and regardless of how it shakes out.

      At the same time, this is a phenomenal and funny post and it’s fantastic to see woman-positive content in any form. Love Jenny’s blog and her writing always.

    • Bates says...

      No. Please no. I love coming here knowing i can have a temporary break from this kind of stuff that is plastered everywhere and at all times. And no, silence is not tacit compliance.

    • edie says...

      Geez, I hope Cup of Jo isn’t going to start labeling Kavanuah a predator, too. Innocent until proven guilty is still the law of the land. The court of public opinion is completely insane these days.

      #believeallwomen makes no sense to me because it advocates this idea that to question someone’s experience is to be complicit in “the patriarchy.”

  40. SallyK says...

    My girls are about 20 years past their teen-age years. I’m not sure if it was because as a family we were going through a lot when they were teen-agers and they knew I could only handle so much or because I didn’t expect it to be a difficult time, but I didn’t find that time to be exceptionally stressful.

    I used to tell them that when they were deciding whether or not to do something they should ask themselves if they wanted me to know about it (and to remember that sooner or later I probably would know about it). If the answer was “no,” it was a pretty good indication that they shouldn’t do whatever. Also, if need be, they could always use me as an excuse for not doing something.

    Pick your battles. When the girls did something that I didn’t particularly like, I’d ask myself if it was going to matter in five years — or even less. If the answer was “no,” I let it slide without comment as much as possible. From observing others I realized that a lot of things that become big issues for parents and their teen-agers are just differences of opinion. Not wrong, not dangerous and not something that will make a difference in a very short period of time.

    • Sydni Jackson says...

      Great comments!

    • Jojo says...

      Thank you. This is very helpful.

  41. Are you in my brain or something? Hi, I am Joy, I am a brand new blogger and when I googled blogs for women in their 30’s I found you, so I clicked “Cup of Jo” and this teen post is the first thing I see. I have a 12 going on 25 year old, and I mean that in some of the most positive ways. She is what some would call an old soul and she is the light of my life. She has her moments that’s for sure and all of the advice you gave in this post, almost verbatim, is the way I raise her. So I love that we have that in common which makes me want to binge read your blog even though I am not really a big fan of reading. I do also have another daughter who is 20 now, I am 39, so I had her young. She was HARD and if I would have read this blog when SHE was 12 I think it would have been a tremendous help. I did a lot of things wrong the first time around and now, well, she doesn’t talk to me. Haven’t heard from her in 2 months and my heart aches over it. I want to say thank you for writing such encouraging words for other mommas of teen girls to take ahold of and have a “better than it would be” relationship with them if they had not read such great advice. Keep up the good work fellow mom. :)

  42. Laurie says...

    These are awesome. I would add for #18, if your child is an introvert, consider that one of their best escape hatches may be alone time. Good, reliable friends are essential, but for introverts having a real chance to explore themselves fully in these years also usually means some significant time alone of their choosing. Some parents may misread time spent alone. But if it’s by the introvert’s choosing and they are not doing anything harmful to themselves or anyone else, let them be! Extroverted, helicopter parents especially, take note!!

    • Nicole says...

      Yes! Not just neccessary for introverts, but for most people I believe. Teaching them to have down time” is just as important as teaching them to interact with friends I think.

  43. Jennifer says...

    Nothing good happens after midnight!

    • Sasha L says...

      Man, that is the TRUTH. I think I actually said this to my girls, and they came to agree!

    • Kate says...

      My best friends mum used to have a saying, which we adopted (but rarely stuck to) ‘fun before 1’

  44. Laura says...

    Thank you, Y – I am going to hold on to your words. It’s tricky navigating that semi-mom role to a child who already has a mom, but I’m hoping there’s enough love to go around and someday she will come to me for some of those things… I’ll keep trying to take the long view, like you suggest. And continue seeing my therapist, lol! Thank you so much – it really means a lot. <3 <3 <3

  45. Jill says...

    “I am always here for you. I will not judge you, please always know that you can call me about anything day or night.”
    My 19-year-old college freshman calls me all the time with big and little questions. I am cherishing these calls because I know that they wont’ happen forever.

    • Katie Larissa says...

      Jill, they might! I still call my mama all the time for advice/love/understanding.

    • Dana says...

      I remember those college phone calls to my mother. She also probably thought they wouldn’t last forever. But I’m now in my 30s and live on the other side of the country. I still call her (every day!) with big and little questions. I’m so thankful for her never ending love and support…I’m sure your daughter is too.

  46. Liz says...

    As someone not that far removed from my own teenage years, one of the best things my mom did (and she did many, many wonderful things like apologizing when she felt she messed up) was allow secrets among my sisters and me. She would rather have us talk to each other than to no one, and she never pressured us to tell her anything we heard from the others; she knew we would go to her if we were concerned or someone was in danger. Our relationships with her and each other are so much stronger because of her respect for our privacy.

  47. Bridgette Stone says...

    no kids, but I always tell my students “the secret is that EVERYONE is a weirdo. So don’t worry so much about the quirks that make you you. Anyone who’s pretending not to have them is lying and you’ll be happier and freer when you embrace them”

    But also…is Jenny a regular contributor now? That’s so very exciting.

    • Colleen S. says...

      My best friend used to say “there’s no such thing as normal.” We were all about embracing our abnormal selves when I was in high school, even though I still wanted to fit in.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      LOVE that line, colleen!

  48. Marci says...

    Many kids resist doing “grown up things” like make a hair appointment, take the car through the car wash, or ask a date to Homecoming because they are afraid of looking stupid. It was incredibly freeing for my kids when I told them that no one expects a teen to be perfectly smooth or poised, and that it’s better to be awkward and clueless at age 16 than at age 22 (or older!) The world has reinforced that advice: they have experienced nothing but kind and helpful people when they have fumbled through things for the first time and admitted their inexperience.

    Parents of teens: have your kids take on the responsibilities of adulthood while you are there to guide them. Have them make their own appointments, fill out their own medical and activity forms, email their teachers about homework questions, etc. And, I believe every adult privilege should come with responsibilities: e.g. with driving privileges comes the responsibilities of keeping the car filled with gas, clean on the inside and washed.

    It should go without saying, but don’t tease or criticize your teen for failures and awkward moments. Instead, we go with the “well, now you know” or “lesson learned” type response.

    I agree with others who have commented: the teen years bring many joys, even though they’re sometimes terrifying! :)

    • Dee says...

      Oh Marci -that first point is a beaut! It applies to all of us for our whole lives, not just teenagers. When I have to do things I’m bad at I always say to myself -better to practice this now because not being able to do it is going to be more embarrassing in 10 years time. Lifelong learning is basically the key to everything!

  49. Claire says...

    I’m 28, and my sister is 31. Whenever I ask my mom, “what was the toughest age to parent us at?,” she says “now” with a laugh (and I asked her this again, like yesterday). Warning that it may never get easier, but you know you’ve done something right when they always come back to you and trust you as a confidante with whatever comes at them in life. It’s always going to be hard because your daughters and sons will come back to you with all the things they are discovering and learning about themselves for the first time in their 20s/30s/forever, and you will experience all those firsts with them.

    In my early 20s, my relationship with my parents changed. I realized how much love they provided me, how much their parenting made me who I am, that they were humans too, and I literally had a moment in college when it hit me hard and made me cry. If your job as parents ever feels thankless, just know that at some point, your relationship with your kids will change, and they will apologize for the ridiculous/cruel things they did while growing up (though they might also be grown up enough to try to give you parenting advice and philosophically challenge the assertion that “doing hookah in a public park is wrong” because they never really forgot that one fight from high school)

  50. Elizabeth R. says...

    While I appreciate these tips, they seem mildly ill-timed in light of the Kavanaugh investigation. I understand Jenny’s intentions. A lot of these tips are super good. I even theoretically understand the nude pic ones but we also need to be teaching our children, male, female, and non-binary, about healthy sexuality. We also can not put the onus entirely on girls. Teaching men to not objectify women and abuse them starts YOUNG. I do understand Jenny was just talking about her personal experience and she seems like an amazing Mom.

    • TJ says...

      Agreed! I feel like most of these tips apply to my sons as well. Good tips, Jenny!

    • Kat says...

      I didn’t read this as putting the onus on girls – the article is focused on girls but that doesn’t mean the tips are JUST for girls. I also don’t think it’s bad advice to never ever ever send nudes (and again, it’s an equally valid piece of advice for boys – along with “don’t be a piece of shit and distribute photos you might receive”). I wouldn’t blame a girl or woman if she ever did send photos, and something bad happened with them, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk to our daughters about the risks, because they’re real, even if they shouldn’t be. Plus it’s child pornography, nobody wants their kid engaged in that, regardless of gender. We can also talk to them about how to handle things like unsolicited dick pics, and how that’s inappropriate and sexual harassment and she can tell someone if she needs to.

  51. Eliza says...

    I don’t have daughters (yet? maybe?) but I have two sons (6 and 4) and I never intend to TEACH them driving. I’ll drive WITH them as they need the experience and practice, but based on my experiences with my parents it’s a relationship saver to hire someone to do the job (and someone who knows the rules of the road much better than I do anyways)!

  52. Shannon says...

    Yes to #12. I work at a University. I always feel so bad for the students whose parents call. You may think it’s your right because you are paying their tuition, but it’s a mistake.

    • Kate says...

      I agree, the thought of that example makes me cringe. But, I always hated the way college can negate the fact that young adults still sometimes need parenting- I work for a college that supports family involvement- and the literatures shows that some students, especially first generation college students, benefit from the support of their family and that it increases their chances for success. I always wished the colleges that my own kids went to were less invested in trying to show the “helicopter parents” their place and more open to the needs of some of their students.

  53. alison says...

    I LOVE that you brought up the importance of discussing periods in front of dads and brothers! I have been open about my period with my children (who are currently 11 and 9) since they were little and they just talk with me about it like it is talking about the weather. I am sure it will change a bit as they get older, but it feels so great to know that both my son and daughter know what a period is and what happens and that it is not some gross thing. Last year when my son was in 5th grade he brought up how they were going to watch a puberty video in school shortly. I could have NEVER brought that up with my mother when I was his age!

  54. Tina says...

    What the hell is Fortnite :))) Having two teenage boys I can tell you all about that…;-) and it’s not banned here.
    Love that post. I also agree it mostly applies to boys, too, but I would love to read especially about raising teenage boys. They are such a unique specie…

  55. I’m the oldest of four. Three girls (now 43,41, and 34) and then my brother (now 31). My poor mom,?dealing with teenage angst and toddlers at the same time!

    I’d like to add to remember that they’re individuals and will have different personalities, emotions, and experiences. No one likes to be compared to others when they are striving to be an individual. Also, sisters might fight like cats and dogs, but there is no closer bond between us.

  56. Cyn says...

    Stay with the pack! When out with friends always stick together and look out for each other. Holds true for life.

  57. Sasha L says...

    A dog. Or dogs. Make sure you’ve got one. A puppy, an old dog, doesn’t matter. Dogs love no matter what, never judge, remind us we are needed and take us out of our selves when we need to be reminded that the world is bigger. Dogs calm, dogs make us safer. Dogs are generally really great judges of character. And the loyalty. Man, that is freaking everything when you are a teenager.

    Also, when your baby flies away from you, you’ll still have your dog, and you’re gonna need it. For all of the above reasons, plus you are never lonely with a dog’s head on your lap.

    • Jane says...

      Love this comment and agree completely. Dogs are the best !!

    • Suzanne says...

      Sasha, I completely agree. My kids are now 19, 16, and 13, but when they were younger, I asked each of them what was the best thing about their lives. Each one — without knowing what the others had said — answered “Clementine,” our 7-year-old Golden Retriever. I think they would still say she’s the best.

    • Sasha L says...

      Suzanne, that is so beautiful. Truly, teens/kids/us! are so loved and cared for by our dogs.

  58. Stephanie says...

    As a mom of two boys, I’m often told how much easier I’ll have it in the teenage years. But I know the real truth: girls come back to their mamas.

    Any tips of being the type of mom my boys will want to hang with even when they’re grown? I’m all ears!

    • Ali says...

      Girls may come back to their Mamas for friendship but the boys look after them. Seeing the soft spot that my husband, dad and brother in laws have for their Mums and the way that whenever they visit their Mums they happily spend the weekend helping them out with odd jobs just warms my heart!

  59. Laura W says...

    Such excellent rules from Jenny, queen of Dinner. Let me add: If your teenagers have a phone (or a tablet, or a laptop) be sure they know it is their responsibility to take care of. . . but it belongs to YOU (you pay the bills, right?). And then (with their full knowledge) periodically and randomly check their browser history. And their texts. And their photos. And their DELETED photos. (I can’t emphasize the deleted photos one enough). And then TALK TO THEM about what you see there if something concerns you. Talk to them as opposed to CRY, FREAK OUT AND YELL. After all, we don’t give brand new drivers the keys to a brand new car and say “Go wherever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want!” Why would we do that with a phone? It can be just as dangerous as a car- to others and themselves. It’s our job to teach them how to use it responsibly.

    • Caitlin says...

      I would pause on this to just say…privacy is a very delicate thing. And while I know my parents were only looking out for me when they snooped in my things, if you DO find something you don’t support/understand/agree with in your findings, be sure to discuss with them in a way that feels CARING and COMPASSIONATE rather than from a place of judgement. Because invasion of privacy + judgement = a quick way to make your teen daughter want to rebel/run for the hills…it backfires quickly. Things I now get to discuss in therapy…haha.

    • SR says...

      Oof, tread lightly in the phone territory…. I understand that it’s important to know whats going on with your kid, but you don’t want to invade their privacy or lose their trust. Kids learn things like respect and trust from their parents, and you don’t want to be too invasive.

    • Taylor says...

      If I knew my mom could go through my phone whenever she wanted I would get a second, hidden phone. My mom gave birth to me but she couldn’t just inspect my body whenever she wants because she made me. Trusting your children to make the right decisions and advising them on how to make decisions on their privacy will always lead to more trust, rather than holding their privacy up as “yours” because you pay for it.

    • H says...

      I would argue that if you’re buying your kid a phone then there needs to be a certain level of trust there. If you don’t trust your teen to make appropriate choices with technology, why provide it? I would feel like it was a huge violation if my parents checked my phone along with reading my journal, checking my email, etc.

    • Alexia says...

      The kids I knew in high school (which was 2 years ago for me) whose parents searched their phone/didn’t respect their privacy were by far and away the most rebellious. If my parents had done that, I probably would have rebelled more… no teen wants to feel like they don’t have control over their life.

    • Kirsten says...

      Totally agree that treading lightly is so important on this issue. My daughter is one, so we’re far from phone territory, but I read somewhere about a “building to trust” kind of model with phones where you monitor and then taper off with trust. That seems like a fair solution.

    • Em says...

      This is complicated. I’m 30 years old and I don’t have kids. But my parents were always checking on me in the ways you describe. I didn’t have a smartphone/tablet yet but they would check the family computer after I used it, call friend’s houses to check I was actually where I said I was, were always questioning me as thought I was lying to them, etc. Honestly it permanently damaged our relationship and over a decade later I still resent how that made me feel. I felt that I was treated like a “bad kid,” despite the fact that I was a super good kid and never gave them a reason to be so suspicious of me. I felt like they were always expecting me to screw up and waiting to catch me. I have a pleasant but not that close relationship with my parents now. I imagine they were just trying their best, but I hated that parenting style then, and still don’t understand it now.

    • Jen says...

      No offense, but this is terrible advice. My parents never did anything like this but my mom was very strict with me and overreacted to things that were really not that big of a deal and as a result, I began lying to her about many things in my personal life (esp regarding relationships for years going into my 30s) which has been a source of stress in our relationship despite the fact that I do love her and am close with her. Nobody wants to feel like they are being spied upon or judged even if you don’t overreact. By all means, teach your children about how to responsibly use their smart phones and navigate social media, but if you are going to spy and snoop, be prepared to deal with more rebellion, more lies, and more secrets.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Thank you for your comment — and for calling me Queen! (YESSS!) The random phone/browser/text check-in is tricky territory. As much as I’m DYING to know everything that’s going on in their lives, I think it’s important for them to know I trust them. Does that mean they haven’t made mistakes with their devices and social media? No, it does not. But the issues we know about we discuss and work through.

    • Lori says...

      As a mother of 3 daughters, ages 16-23, I respectfully disagree with this advice. I agree that it is important to communicate constantly. As they have grown up, I have spent their lives teaching them and (more importantly, I think) showing them the values I embrace. However, trust is as important as any other lesson I am teaching them. My goal is to raise independent adults who can solve problems. And by the time they are teens, they will be leaving home in a few short years. If you haven’t built up trust and taught lessons by then, snooping on them is not going to accomplish anything but encouraging a child to stop communicating with their parent and start sneaking around. My mother’s advice to me, which I have turned to continually over the years was “when they’re little, keep them on a short leash, and let the leash grow longer and longer as they grow”.

    • L says...

      Cell phones are like diaries. I don’t let my husband look at mine, so I certainly don’t look at my child’s. I doubt I could guess the password. I don’t see cell phones as a privilege for a teen. They’re a necessity for both safety and the ability to maintain a social life. I never hold the phone over them as a threat. They get the phone because everyone has one. What they do with it is their business.

    • Rita Dantas says...

      My grandmother inspected every inch of my mother’s life when she was a teenager, so my mother taught us to respect each other’s privacy and respected our privacy totally and completely. To this day, she would not open a letter directed at me even if it was just from some utility company. I think this is very important and a huge part of the mutual respect that I believe is key to raising teenagers (or kids of any other age).
      If I have serious concerns, maybe one day I will invade my daughter’s privacy, but only if it is serious, for example if I think she is suicidal – not if I think she is sending nude pictures, no matter how dire the consequences can be. Or if a bagpack smells really bad, maybe I will check to find out exactly how old the mouldy banana is.
      But I think that is it – creating an environment of trust depends on respect, and privacy is a big part of it for me, and was a big part of it for me growing up. I had safe spaces to keep secrets at home and I could talk to my mother about everything, but the key word is “could” – I had the choice and the freedom to decide what I wanted to discuss with her.

      Besides, really, teenagers will find their privacy – once there were the outfit changes after leaving the house and the make up hidden in the lockers, today there are second phones and hidden apps, but they will find the space they need to grow into themselves. It is impossible to find out about everything, but really easy to estrange them.

    • Alex says...

      I agree with all of the other commenters. This is bad advice and is bound to backfire. I don’t have teenagers yet, but I was a middle and high school teacher for a few years and I remember my teenage years quite well. Invading a teenager’s personal privacy always did more harm than good. I imagine that’s why it’s a classic confrontational scene in teen angst movies (e.g., Mom sneaking into teen’s room to search dresser drawers for condoms, notes, diaries). If you have, say, a drug abusing teen in the house, I think certain searches are warranted. I recall my parents doing that to one of my brothers, for drugs and stolen money, and I thought they were justified. But these are the exceptions.

  60. Remember you as teen, how much you hated many things (including your parents) in silence! Let them express what you never said at same age! Keep values and good behaviours, they will see, never forget and remember! Tell them and fight if they reach limits. They are just looking for you and you need to show that you are not weak but strong. And keep in mind that after 20, they will thank you for having been there helping them go to these teen phase and become mature. Never give up, you are the roots they are looking for and will love forever.

  61. Rhonda says...

    #2 really resonates with me right now. I hope you’re right because it seems overnight my darling daughter has decided I am just. the. worst. My husband hardly blips on her radar but Mom? Mom is fair game. I’m really hoping she returns someday.

    • Taylor says...

      She will! I’m 27 and my mom is my absolute best friend now, we recently traveled to 6 countries just the two of us! But from the ages of 12-16ish I was just…..not nice to her. I resented her for things I couldn’t articulate at the time (I was embarrassed that she stayed home? All my friends’ mothers worked, I was embarrassed she was pretty when I felt absolutely hideous, etc etc.) I would call her “malibu barbie”, make fun of her for never going to college, I was just a really bitter teen. I refused to believe her when she told me things would get better, or life would become less complicated and thought her life was very simple, simply because I couldn’t see outside myself at the time.
      She always remained loving even when I was mean, and let me cry on her shoulder no matter what, and when I grew up a little bit and realized she’s such a good mom and I’m so lucky we became thick as thieves again!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      rhonda, i’m so sorry, that must be so hard! i read a really interesting article a while back about how teenagers need to separate from their parents, and i found it so enlightening — i’m going to look around for it now, i think it was in the nytimes.

      personally, i was really not great to my mom for two years in high school — freshman and sophomore year were the worst. i rolled my eyes, i talked back, i was so bratty! i remember the stress and angst and rage feeling so intense in my body all the time. it’s as tough age. but after that my mom and i became best friends again, and still are, decades later. i’m just glad she forgave me :)

    • E says...

      I heard something by Danielle LaPorte on a podcast once that said (I’m paraphrasing) teenagers can be the worst because their brains haven’t completely developed yet and they have all these emotions going on that they don’t know how to deal with. I wish my mom had realized that I pushed back and didn’t want to listen to her not because I was deliberately trying to be mean, but because literally, my brain hadn’t formed enough to be able to stop or know how to react differently. I’m in my 30s and she still thinks that every time I react to something she says or I get upset with her I am deliberately trying to hurt her. I wish she would realize that it’s not always about her, it’s about me trying to navigate the trials of life.

  62. Tiffany says...

    I’m 22 weeks pregnant with our first. When we found out it was a girl, we both had a bit of a freak out that we’re inevitably going to have to go through the teenage girl phase. This helps!

    • Annie says...

      Ha! I have a two year old girl, and also found this soothing. I’ll just have to make a note-to-self to return to this page in a decade.

    • Katrin says...

      I don’t think it’s easier with teenage boys, though –
      T eenagers are Teenagers, and I there are challenges whether you have a boy or a girl. So chin up!

    • H says...

      Congrats! I have a newborn daughter, but I teach middle school and I can tell you that the teenage years are hard regardless of your sex. I find that different ages present different challenges for boys vs. girls.

      Joanna/Cup of Jo Team- My current worry (especially in this political climate) is how to raise a girl to be strong, confident, optimistic about the world, etc. while also being realistic about being a woman today. I’ve read some articles about how young girls think women can do anything (yay!!) but don’t realize that there are still many road blocks for women in the workplace and society. Or in reference to this post, how do I teach her that she should be able to take whatever pictures of herself she wants and not have her privacy violated BUT it’s probably not smart in case it ends up in the wrong hands. In short, how do I teach my daughter to be a woman in today’s world?

  63. Jenny’s advice sound pretty spot on to me. I am a mother of 2 boys aged 14 and 16, and I truely believe it is harder than ever to be a teen in this world we now live in. Love them hard, even when they are screaming abuse at you, turn up to watch their football games, even though they tell you not to. Be around to at least see them off to school in the morning and have faith that all your hard work of parenting will pay off..

  64. MelTown says...

    At 35 I am just now really beginning to unpack a lot of trauma from my teen years, but it makes me weirdly excited to go through middle and high school with my own kids. I feel like I’ve gained a lot of wisdom through my experiences and I hope I can use it to guide them through their adolescence. I just refuse to dread any time spent with my children. Yes, they are taxing sometimes, but after the teen years they move on. I really want to enjoy that time with them before they move out, and do a good enough job that they want to come back and hang out as adults.

    • Kate says...

      Yes to this! I feel very similar. Besides, having younger kids can be taxing, too. My 7-year-old yells at us a lot, for instance -it’s no different thank if she were a teen already, lol! But there are so many rewards, and we can parent differently than our own mothers.

  65. Abby says...

    Humor is everything. If you can laugh together (watch Netflix: Friends, The Office) you will not be hated for the entire day. Take advantage of riding in the car together (when you are driving, not her) to talk. They often are better at talking when they are not being watched by you. Remember that they get nicer again. Also, pay attention to how your teenager is with other adults. My friends and I would note with humor how perfect each other’s daughter was in their eyes as compared to how our own behaved at home.

  66. Silver says...

    The thing that I would add, is WHEN will people stop seeing this next generation only in terms of gender? Why can’t this list apply to all teenagers. When we we see that there are good people and there are horrible people, and they are not either one of those things because of their gender? Why can’t we raise all our children to respect boundaries, respect their bodies, respect other people. Everyone says that males have always had great role models – but have they? are those role models the rugby players who put glass through their girlfriend’s faces? are the role models the politicians who lie and cheat and send young men to war? They have an absolute wasteland of wonderful role models, but we know in truth they exist, because so many of us are raising them, marrying them, friends with them. Come on, we’re better than this outdated idea that gender is the first marker of difference. let’s raise every up to similar standards, we’re all capable of it.

    • Sadie says...

      Yes, please! We continually exaggerate the differences and all it does is perpetuate stereotypes.

      I have five brothers, four younger than me. Every one of them cried, raged, got snippy with our mom, had friend drama, girlfriend drama, appearance-related anxiety, needed regular Long Talks with mom, etc., etc. People talk about teen boys being easy and teen girls being difficult, and I just think, what boys are they talking about? Did y’all not have guy friends in high school? Do you not remember what they were like?

    • elinor says...

      Yes – thank you for this. I’m all for tailored parenting, but tailoring based only (or even just primarily) on gender only reinforces gender differences.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for your notes! these are great points. i do agree that many of these tips apply to both genders, but i also think that teenage girls and teenage boys can face different challenges. girls, for example, may need help learning about periods, dealing with developing issues around weight/food/body images, figuring out whether or not to send nude photos, etc. we wanted to write about parenting teen girls because i write so much about raising boys, and jenny is raising her teenage girls right now and dealing with some different things than i likely will. i hope that makes sense. i hear and agree with your point that many of these tips fit for boys, too, and i’m glad about that.

      here’s another post on teenagers (both boys and girls), if you’re in the mood to read more: https://cupofjo.com/2018/02/on-parenting-teens/

      thank you so much!!

    • Amanda Cihlar says...

      Agree!

  67. Morgan says...

    Thank you for this. Raising three daughters and yes, the attitude people give when they hear all daughters is downright boring.

    • Beth says...

      If it’s makes you feel any better, you get the same attitude with 3 sons. I’ve always considered it odd and insensitive because 1. We get what what we get and 2. According to the laws of probability not everyone is going to get one of each! Geez.

  68. Claire says...

    Fortnite is a video game. :)
    This is a fun and interesting list! I am happy to see something on a public platform that counteracts the common mythology of teenagers as out-of-control, nightmare, quasi-humans. People actually started parroting that message to me when I was pregnant with my son: “enjoy the baby years, because when he gets to be a teenager you won’t be able to stand being around him.” That has not been true at all.
    I have 2 things to add: There is a distinction to be made between over-managing your kid’s life and undermining their sense of self, and being a responsible parent. With my teenager I am still walking that fine line of knowing when to let him figure things out for himself and knowing when to step in and make suggestions or offer encouragement. He still needs guidance sometimes. So I don’t like judge-y labels like “helicopter parenting” or “lawn mower parenting”. I think you have to be flexible, play it as you go, and see what makes sense given the circumstances and the kid. Sometimes you need to be ready to call an audible. I’ve known a lot of teenagers who were seriously struggling, and absolutely needed their parent to step in and lead the way through a difficult time.
    The other thing- and this may be obvious but I will throw it out there anyway: Give your teenager the gift of emotional literacy. Although many of us start this process when kids are small, I think it can fall by the wayside, and it’s easy to think that once they’ve outgrown temper tantrums and meltdowns, they’ve outgrown the need for conversations about their emotions. But the inner landscape only gets more complicated as they get older, and issues related to emotional well being become even more critical. I think the dialogue about emotional health should be ongoing, and continue to grow more adult as teenagers grow into adulthood. To talk calmly and honestly about emotions and life, and one’s inner landscape – stress, anxiety, worries, a struggle with a difficult friendship, situation, or decision, and how to work through it all – these are things that are not covered in school, and can be so difficult for teenagers to try to navigate on their own, and their friends often can’t help because it’s new territory for them too. A good conversation at the right time, with a priority on careful listening, can give them a vocabulary to answer questions they didn’t even know they were asking. My sister had a great idea- while carpooling one day she played a Brene Brown podcast in the car for her 12 year old daughter and a friend, after learning that they were struggling with a mean girl scenario at school. They loved it. With my son I just check in with him and talk honestly. And I know that this has helped him.

    • Melanie says...

      Wow, Great comment, thank you!

    • Joy says...

      I love this comment so much.

    • Kelly says...

      Great points! I have an adhd child and while she’s not yet a teenager, she needs tons of support for tasks that other kids her age can do independently.

      Educators call it scaffolding – providing the framework for kids to be successful and build upon that success to learn new skills and increase independence.

      I was a pretty smart kid who was a very mediocre student bc I was immature and my parents were the complete opposite of helicopter or lawn mower…I look back now and wish they’d tried to give me more scaffolding.

  69. Molly says...

    This list is amazing! I’m no where near the teenage years yet but am bookmarking this for my future self!!!!

  70. jen says...

    Love them. They will remember it when they regain their minds.

  71. Em says...

    As my mom always reminded me as I stepped out of the house- “make good choices!”

    I still think of it as an adult. It’s not micro managing. It’s not helicoptering. It’s trusting your kid knows what a good choice looks like. And that confidence feels great.

    • Megan says...

      My mom said and still says (I’m 29) the exact same thing!

  72. C says...

    Not as a parent of a teenage girl, but as a former teenage girl, I would add, “She’ll like you again someday.” <3

  73. Amy says...

    Can we add a completely NON-subjective rule for raising teenage boys? Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ask a girl for nudes!

    • Courtney says...

      YES!!!!!!! And you can’t touch other people without permission. I am a middle school teachers and boys cannot keep their hands to themselves (patting/swatting friends/tapping shoulders/playfully punching-all in good fun but I am constantly saying, “Don’t touch a body that is not yours!”)

  74. As the youngest of 3 girls, as a now almost 40 year old who lost my own mom 6 1/2 years ago, as a mom to an almost 5 year old daughter…..Yes, Yes, Yes. Thank you for all of this. Love reading anything by Jenny!

  75. Bex says...

    I know my parents felt allllll the rage of my teenage self acutely, but my dad was wise enough to just say “Be good. Be smart. Make good decisions.” before my friends and I left the house. I’m pretty sure I almost always rolled my eyes, but my very best friend mentioned to me recently that it meant a lot to her that he cared enough about her to say it at all. Thanks, dad!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so so cute, bex. and omg “the rage of my teenage self” = i remember that feeling so well. it really was rage. at nothing and everything all at once.

  76. Meg says...

    Everyone always says to ask good open ended questions and kids will talk. I tried that approach for a long time but found the opposite to be true. When you want teen girls to talk, DON’T ask questions. I’ve found there is too much pressure/demand/restraint in questions. The most valuable phrase in my mama toolbox has become, “Just start from the beginning… ” It’s magic.

    For example, instead of asking my middle schooler how a test went, I’ll hand her a snack when she arrives home and say, “Just start from the beginning…” Then I listen. No loaded questions about tests or good or bad moments in the day. Just a benign start to the conversation that begins with a stress-free recounting of the bus ride to school. I don’t have to ask about the test because inevitably she gets there on her own. When I hand her the keys to our conversation tension goes away and she always reciprocates with extraordinary openness.

    • Patrice says...

      Thanks for the great advice, Meg!

    • Rae says...

      What a lovely, gentle technique Meg. Lucky daughter you have.

    • Elle says...

      Love this!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a beautiful approach. thank you for sharing, meg.

  77. Glenda says...

    This list is spot on… I have a son and daughter and have always just had an open dialogue with them. Usually kids will “lead ” you with the questions. Just answer age appropriately. We’ve talked openly about sex and period in front of both. Parents will grow with their children. Learning their lingo is a must.

  78. Annie says...

    “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.”

    Oh wow, I loved this one so much.

    • Katie says...

      This one felt so important to me as well. Great advice!

  79. Isabelle says...

    “It’s more important to listen than to fix”, wow, so true! As a mom of 15 and 17 y.o. daughters, thank you so much for this post! Really needed that, especially with my eldest who’s got an eating disorder. It’s been so painful to navigate…
    I would add “Always be proud of yourself as a mom” , it ain’t an easy job”.

  80. Nikki says...

    My mom and dad raised me pretty perfectly hahaha ;) but the one thing I wish I felt comfortable talking to them about was money issues. I got my self into a little debt after a terrible boyfriend issue and wish I had the courage to talk to them. I was so embarrassed I dealt with it myself. In the long run, if I had asked for help it would have been a lot cheaper and easier to fix. (AKA TELL YOUR GIRLS TO BUILD A F*CK IT FUND!- read the article it’s GREAT)

    Also I’m a third grade teacher and HATE Fortnite. It’s banned from being even discussed in my classroom. I’m not a parent, so maybe I don’t get it, but why are families allowing their children to play this game? Not judging (okay maybe a little since it’s a shoot/kill game) , but genuinely curious! (Minecraft all the way!)

    • Kirstin says...

      I am a parent and Fortnight is an ABSOLUTELY never game for our son… not in our house and not at anyone else’s house either. But we even received a letter from the Principal, advising parents that it was a un-desirable game (we are in Australia).

    • E. says...

      Count me in! I am completely appalled that my third grader has classmates who are playing this game, and that any parent would find this type of game a suitable form of entertainment for their kids.

  81. Andrea says...

    What a wonderful list! As a mom of two boys, 14 and 17, I would add that boy-mamas need to talk about menstruation and sexual assault with their boys too. (Key and Peele’s “Menstruation Orientation” is a great way to get this going if you’re shy. NSFW, but my sons and I can quote that sketch almost line by line.) Boys are going to be husbands and fathers: the women they love shouldn’t be a source of squick or mystery, or a prize to win/steal.

  82. Fran says...

    My mother used to tell all (and I mean ALL) my girlfriends whenever they came over to our house to “just never have butt sex.” I can vividly picture my mom standing by the stove waving around a spoon, splattering food everywhere, vehemently defending her stance on why girls shouldn’t be letting boys talk them into things they don’t really want to do. And it literally mortified me. I’d lead my wide-eyed friends (most of whom come from very conservative southern families) back to my room afterwards and profusely apologize for my mother’s complete lack of filter… but recently when catching up with old friends from high school, multiple women confessed to me that they never had anal sex simply because my mom had dared to look them in the eye at such a young age and tell them that they have agency over their own sex lives.

    I now feel tremendous pride that my mom had the guts to cross a line many women and mothers fear to cross with their own daughters… Be open, make your daughters blush & allow no subject to be too taboo!!

    • Jeanne says...

      So much yes to this! In today’s world guys will say things like… “You’ll still be a virgin if you do this. You would do this if you loved me. Or if you don’t I’m going to say terrible things on social media.” And there’s not necessarily anything the girl gets out of it physically speaking at this age. So I just blurt embarrassing statements out like this when they’re trapped in the car. But I also make it very casual and nonchalant (I want her to be able to talk to me about anything). I used to think I was going overboard til just last week, my friend pulled me aside and said…”If my daughter is ever in the car with you, can you please blurt out the stuff about butt sex?” Anytime friend, anytime.

    • Elle says...

      While I greatly appreciate a mom who talks openly about sex, and the message that women should “have agency over their own sex lives”, telling girls “just never have butt sex” really doesn’t fit that message. Maybe your friends would have enjoyed it. Lots of women do. I hope that part of empowering women in their sexuality can be letting go of assigning value judgements to sex acts as long as they’re between consenting adults.

    • Carrie says...

      I appreciate these perspectives and am glad you commented Elle, because that is what I was thinking but didn’t know how to articulate. There is no shame in butt sex if you enjoy it! Agency over your sex life could also mean having the courage to ask your male partner to try it, if you’re curious.

    • June says...

      It’s hilarious that your mom said this — I interpret it as “don’t let a boy talk you into anal as a way to stay a virgin”. Your friends should rethink the meaning, too, because anal sex can be amazing with the right partner. haha!

    • Jeanne says...

      Elle and Carrie: I totally agree with you. There isn’t shame in it and women should definitely take charge of their sexuality. Believe me, as a feminist I definitely let my daughter know this. However, the current issue is that teenage girls are being pressured to have anal sex because they are saying no to vaginal sex. And often times, they are pressured to have anal sex before they’ve even lost their virginity. If they want to say yes, then obviously that’s not a problem. But if they have no idea what anal sex even is, then they are put at a disadvantage. So really the issue is to discuss that butt sex exists and they can say no.

    • Sasha L says...

      Elle and Carrie, agreed. In general I would tell girls that their body is THEIRS and it’s their choice what to do with it (so if it feels good and you want to do it, then it’s up to you). But, apparently anal sex for teenage girls is a very big potential danger. Boys are seeing it on porn, not doing it *right* in any sense, pressuring girls, girls not knowing risks or consequences and ending up with some terrible issues. Personally, I had no idea and have now read a few articles from drs about the damage they are seeing to teens and young women and it’s pretty horrible. I think this is what the “no butt sex!” moms are talking about. Teens are so terribly prone to follow peer pressure and do things that are harmful. I think this is one of those instances where some really really frank discussions with BOTH boys and girls are in order. This is what I did with my own daughters, and even though we were pretty open about sex, those were squirmy discussions for them. But so important, because they had NO IDEA. What they choose to do now, it’s up to them and I have no judgement.

    • Carrie says...

      I love “butt stuff” as my husband and I call it. Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it! Never full on anal, because to me it feels a little weird, rather he takes a more delicate approach. That’s all I’ll say on the matter lol

      Aaaand, thank God for the anonymity of the internet!

  83. Stella says...

    I am in the last few months of my teenagerhood so I thought I’d add my thoughts. I love the point about being period positive and normalizing menstruation within the family this is so important for young women and young men! I would also add being sex-positive to this list, if you open the conversation around sex you can serve as a resource for your daughter/kids. There’s a lot of misinformation and damaging ideas around sex that float around middle school and high school and it can make things very confusing for a teenager. If you normalize sex and human sexuality from a young age your teens will feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns.

    My mother was really good about answering any and all questions I had about sex, from the moment I first asked where babies come from in 1st grade. And to this day, as I’m entering my 20s and having my first sexual experiences, I still use my mom as a resource! Many of my female peers are having some truly awful first sexual experiences (in terms of pleasure and consent) and it pains me to think of how many more women are enduring these experiences. By having an open conversation about sex with my mom I became more comfortable communicating with my sexual partner, and I became more confident in sexual scenarios –– more confident to speak up when something doesn’t feel right. Obviously you can’t prepare your daughter for everything, but you can equip her with the tools to advocate for herself in sexual scenarios.

    • Elle says...

      Kudos to your mom and kudos to you. 👌🏼

  84. Sarah K says...

    I don’t plan to talk about periods constantly with my daughter. Just like I hope my husband doesn’t talk about wet dreams or other male functions incessantly with our sons. It’s just not that interesting. But I love all of these other ideas and “rules”. And agree so wholeheartedly with the one about pictures.
    When my daughter becomes a teen I want her to most of all be kind, but to also be ok with saying “no”. No to unwanted sex, no to drugs, no to toxic friendships, etc.

    • EMR says...

      I don’t think she meant constantly. I inferred that she meant the conversation should be open to everyone in the house so there is no feeling of shame involved regarding periods.

    • L says...

      It’s not about interesting dialogue. It’s about saying, “I’m running to CVS, do you need me to pick up tampons for you?” when their brother is around and not making it some kind of secret. “Not feeling well? Is it cramps or do you think you’re coming down with something?”
      Telling girls they need to be kind is a huge red flag that we’re asking girls to put the feelings of others ahead of or in line with their own. Teenage girls should not be worrying about making guys happy or whether something they do will upset them. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be kind, just tell them their happiness and safety always comes first. I would argue that we should teach our daughters to be kind to themselves and know that when they feel comfortable with that kindness to others will follow.

    • Sadie says...

      I’m 36, and just found out that I have ridiculously heavy, medical-problem-heavy periods. Because I never talked about periods with anyone, I had no idea whether my periods were excessive. I mean, I used “heavy” menstrual products, but I didn’t know I was using way, way more of them than was normal. If we were more open about these things, at least with our close friends and family, problems like mine might not go on for years without appropriate treatment. Too many women suffer unduly because we just expect periods to involve suffering in silence.

      It’s ridiculous that you can have any other illness and just tell your friends what’s up, but we will tell elaborate lies to avoid ever saying, “I’m on my period.”

  85. Em says...

    Love, love, love Jenny and her wisdom. Always so glad to see her voice pop up!

  86. Jody says...

    The piece that these unsolicited forewarnings are missing is the reward. The rhythm of parenting is hard, hard work followed by rewarding moments that will take your breath away. Having an infant is tough right? Lots of crying, sleepless nights, etc but you work through it then get your first smile from them, followed by first steps or first I love you’s, those milestones that *almost* erase how hard that 3 month stretch of no sleep was. With teenagers, you muscle through intense mood swings, defiance and a stack of other issues on a day-to-day basis, but, BUT then they go off and do things like LEARN CHEMISTRY or START DRIVING or SCORE A GOAL or, perhaps the most bittersweet of them all, find themselves. Watching your on-the-brink-of-adulthood daughter find out who she is and go on to make her impact on this world, that’s the good stuff right there.

    • Katrin says...

      You’re so right, thanks for adding this! But I didn’t get the impression that Jenny implied there were no rewards.

  87. Beth says...

    My daughter is 5 months old and this list already makes me want to (ok I sort of am already doing it) cry. Thanks for sharing!

  88. Jean says...

    My daughters are now 18 and 21, and as Jenny says you have to keep reminding yourself that it’s a phase. I recently took part in a training course at work about the teenage brain, and I wish I’d done it when my daughters were younger as I had no idea how much the brain develops during the teenage years, and why they do the things they do. This article gives some insight into it.
    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/25/secrets-of-the-teenage-brain

    • Jeanne says...

      Very helpful article for a mom of 13 & 11 year old girls- thanks for linking to it!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so fascinating, jean! thank you xo

  89. Grace says...

    I am a mother to two girls age 10 and 9 and I see this list looming in front of me now, and sadly, it all makes sense!

  90. Colleen S says...

    As a 35-year-old not mother, what I’d tell my teenage self is to be proud of who I was. I was so concerned with trying to be like everyone else, that I didn’t realize how much I liked myself. Sure there are things I’d change, but I should have been okay with the fact I didn’t drink or do drugs.

    • jennifer says...

      I hear you. Why did I always think everyone else had it figured out, and was doing it right?

  91. Marcella says...

    #2!! I remember when my mom would pick me up from 8th grade and ask me how my day went and I would just say “fine” and be annoyed because duh mom, middle school is hard and I don’t want to talk about it. Now I’m almost 25 and my mom and I have a habit of going to yoga class every Friday night. Teenage years are ROUGH though.

  92. Lindsay says...

    Great list, and amen to #18! Teenagers need a life outside of their small bubble at school.

  93. Millie says...

    #17. HAHAHAHAHA! I work with kids (and have kids) and this is what I’ve been thinking for a year now! Hehe. The whole list is lovely. Well done, Jenny – as a writer and a mom. :)

  94. Carol says...

    Alcohol…talk to them about alcohol….when looking back at some of the stupid things I did…and that my grown children did…and reading and listening to so many stories coming out now about sexual abuse, it is sad to me why so many of us go through a phase of drinking so heavily. Heavy drinking is NO EXCUSE, but it is always important to have your wits about you…that goes for young men as well as young women.

  95. Ellen says...

    Loved this list. I’m often struck by how often we think/talk about how to discuss sex with our daughters, but I don’t as often see the same dialogue about discussing safe use of alcohol and drugs. When I reflect back on being a teenager I realize how often I drank based on advice I’d get from my peers, the danger I put myself in, and how impossible it felt to discuss that reality with my parents because I was engaging in illegal (but very pervasive and “normal”) behavior. I don’t think this is limited to girls, obviously, but as a mother to a still-tiny-3 year old daughter, I’m curious what wiser parents of older kids would offer for a more nuanced conversation with kids about substances– one that acknowledges their existence, the likelihood that a teenager will use them, and how to use them as safely as possible if they do partake. Thanks for a great space for this type of conversation!

    • Sam says...

      I would love to hear more about having a conversation about alcohol with kids/teens, too.

    • Kirsten says...

      Yes yes this! I’m so scared of this part because I never drank or did drugs as a teenager. I just wasn’t interested and had other outlets. But I realize that I was NOT a normal teen and as a result have no idea how I am going to talk to my daughter about this when the time comes.

  96. Elizabeth says...

    Ah, if I could relive my teen-age years and be nicer to my mother! But I would have been a totally different person. It’s so hard for mothers to realize the self-contained world teens are in, and my mother grew up on a farm where the idea of treating teens-agers as anything but a large child was unheard of. I lost my mom last year, but the hurt, confused look she wore during almost all of my teen-age years will forever haunt me.

    Some days I think our conflict exceeded that of the Middle East, but one day in the midst of it all I came home to find a Seventeen magazine on my bed. “I just thought you’d like it,” she said. This was utterly stunning to me — that she continued to care about me when I knew I was so difficult. I probably thought I was too cool to show how much it meant, but it was everything. Best 50 cents anyone ever spent on me.

    • Sarah K says...

      This is so sweet. I love that your mom did this little thing and it meant so much to you.

  97. Jo says...

    My son is five and only occasionally sleeps through the night. So point no. one scares me!!!

  98. Paige says...

    MORE JENNY PLEASE

  99. Elizabeth says...

    Such a good list – and the Michael Scott comment is perhaps an understood, but just in case – watch The Office with them! So great to laugh together and discover similar senses of humor and discuss together and realize that they saw/picked up on something you didn’t – in some ways it helped my (now 19) daughter and I have some common ground at times when it was the ONLY common ground.
    Also, enjoy the heck out of them. I think the teen years can be painful just because that part of life is painful – it’s the first time a friend betrays you, it’s when you are unsure/embarrassed of your body, it’s comparing yourself to classmates and sometimes coming up short – but also, it’s all those things that grow them (and you!) up. They are so interesting and fun and delightful – enjoy them up!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Yes to all of this. One of my most favorite things about the teen-age years is how connected I feel to music and tv and memes and pop culture in general. Also, I see so many more movies now because the whole family is actually interested in the same one. It’s so awesome.

  100. Marlena says...

    Best advice – Sit back and enjoy the ride! My daughter is 17 and my son is 15. We are in the THROES, yo. They are moody and smell funny sometimes, they can go from laughing to crying in the bat of an eye and I’ve seen the bottom whites of my daughter’s eyes more times than I can count. But this is it, people. These are the last years with them under my roof. I am enjoying this crazy ride no matter what. Plus, when you sit back and just get curious about them, they really are fascinating creatures. It makes me laugh about my own antics as a teen and puts so much in perspective watching them navigate their topsy turvy world. They need more compassion than we sometimes admit.

    • Anne says...

      Love this advice! I’ll have to remember it 15 years from now when my little one will not be so little nor so enraptured by me anymore 🙈

    • Agnes says...

      Best comment. Love it. Perspective, perspective, perspective!!

  101. Kelly L says...

    The best decision I made with my teenagers was raising them in a multi-generational, mulit-cultural community. Our social circle included people my parents age, my grandparents age, and people from all over the world (we are fortunate in living in a small university town). We hosted big, simple dinners at home for this village of people where my kids had conversations with people of many perspectives. They really enjoyed this, in fact so much, that my son’s college application essay focused around these gatherings. I would add that I never caved to the idea that teenagers needed to own all the different teen stereotypes and I let them know that as well. I really think that was a relief to them and resulted in very a-typical teenage behavior.

    • Lily! Thanks for the shout-out. Glad you enjoyed the episode. We’re making this a recurring segment, so stay tuned… and feel free to write to us with Qs for our teens!

  102. Kristin says...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I have two young girls, 6 and 3, and am tired of hearing how sorry everyone feels for me that they will be teenagers some day. As a former teenage girl myself, thank you speaking about it with gentleness and joy. I cried the entire length of this post…

    • Tricia says...

      As a fellow mom of a 6yo girl, I cried too!

    • Sally says...

      I cried too! And as a 27 year old, I’m not even *that* far from those years! But I was a high school teacher for a while and have a real heart for that age. Loved this post.

  103. Shannon says...

    My daughters are 5 and 3. Up until now parenting has been such a physical endeavor (childbirth, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, carrying, etc). This advice – which is incredible – just shows how different of a responsibility parenting becomes. On one hand I’m heartbroken to think how quickly I’ll need this advice; on the other I can’t imagine what an amazing privilege it will be to be their mom in such an important time in their lives. What an adventure.

    • Michelle Ohle says...

      Same ages, same feelings. What a joy and a privilege.

  104. Steph says...

    Tell me more about #8. I am a very introverted, modest person, so this is not easy. My girls are 8 & 12.

  105. Sarah M says...

    I am a mom of two daughters (6 and 10) who often hears, “Just wait until they are teenagers.” This list affirms what I’ve come to believe: that it will be a wonderful stage, full of ups and downs, but one where I get to watch them come into themselves. I can’t wait to cheer them on as they become the strong, confident women I know they will be.

  106. Em says...

    The number one thing I would teach or try to convey is the overarching theme of respect: respect for yourself (knowing how far to push yourself or listen to what your body/mind needs), respect for your neighbors (perhaps one of the hardest in this internet age where empathy is hard to come by), respect for your elders (don’t dismiss them because they are antiquated), respect for your youngers (don’t dismiss them because you’re bigger), respect for differing viewpoints, respect for dialogue, respect for your intuition and perhaps most importantly, respect for your environment- whether that be the desk in front of you or the world at large, because we are in a crucial time in respect to that.

    • Josie Moore says...

      This is great Em!

  107. Jo says...

    Im a mom to a boy, who is still a wee 7 yo. But this list made me tear up.

    So well written, Jenny. I hope you will continue to contribute more

    P.S: One thing I could identify from this list was – wth is fortnite?
    My 2nd grader asked me this on day 1 of back to school and I said “its 2 weeks of time”. Doh!! And he said “no, its a game that all the older kids are talking about”. I had no clue!

  108. Kelly says...

    desk crying at the line “don’t forget you can call me ANY hour of the night if you need me for ANYTHING LITERALLY ANYTHING”…I have 2 girls, an 8 year old and a 2 year old. My 8 year old has ADHD and can be a real handful much of the time (ADHD in girls can have a large impact on their emotional regulation so i often feel like i have a small but fiery teenager on my hands)…but I always want her to remember this and need to build in ways to keep our relationship strong so she KNOWS this in her bones.

  109. Alexia says...

    Since I am still technically a teenage girl (currently in my second year of college), I figured I would offer some advice of my own. My parents and I have a really close relationship, and I think the biggest reason for that is that they always put my happiness first, above their own desires for my career or personal life. Rather than place pressure on me to achieve their goals for me, they were proud of me for achieving my own goals for myself.
    More practically speaking, I always really appreciated being able to come to my mother for advice without her passing along every bit of information to my dad or to various other family members. If you want your teen to talk to you, they have to know that you can be trusted not to blab.
    Also, please be sex-positive with your teenage girls. You would rather she come to you about her sexual experiences than be afraid of being shamed by you.

    • Kim says...

      Thank you :) Really great advice/reminders.

    • Sam says...

      Important things to keep in mind. Thanks Alexia!!

    • LaineyR says...

      Love this Alexia. My daughter is 11 and I need all the advice I can get as we head into the teens!

  110. Hannah says...

    #8. Yes. Periods were never talked about and it always really bothered me. Any good resources on when to start talking about it and how? My daughter is only 2 1/2 but I want to be prepared.

    • Molly says...

      Start now, if you can. She may not understand, but it will give you practice at explaining. (I learned this through talking with my son about adoption, which is how I became his mom.) Look for teachable moments—for example, if she sees your sanitary supplies, give a simple explanation of what they are for. If you know a woman who is pregnant, talk about what happens each month that a woman doesn’t become pregnant.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! i agree with molly — i bring it up all the time with my boys, too. i’ve told them many times what the tampons on my bathroom counter are for, and i’ll say thing like, “we can leave for the park in two minutes — i have to change my tampon,” and stuff like that. just to normalize it and have bodies/puberty/sex/etc be part of a de-stigmatized lifelong conversation.

    • Lo says...

      Not a mom, but I was a daughter of people who never talked about it with me. I still remember feeling sooo sad and weirdly vulnerable when I had my first period. My mom, who’d never talked about it with me beyond giving me a brochure (lol), asked if I wanted to get a manicure to celebrate. So good intentioned, but it seemed so weird to me that I burst into tears! (I wasn’t really a manicure kid, and I’d literally never associated periods with something positive.)

      I wish my mom had just casually talked about it when I was little– like, “hey, I’ve got my period next week so let’s remember to get tampons at the grocery store.” I had an older sister, too, who was raised to be similarly tight-lipped. It would have helped so much if I’d understood that it’s not a big deal.

      I should also say, my mom is wonderful and one of my close close friends to this day, and she did so much right for me and my sister. But it was hard for her to shake generations of WASP-y upbringing that made talking about bodies very off limits. It took me until my early 30s to really understand this about her.

    • t says...

      It is hard for me to even comprehend not talking to my kids about my period. Like literally I have changed my tampons in front of them in the bathroom because they are too young (5) not to be with me in the bathroom. They don’t yet correlate menstruation to having babies (or not) but they know that it is not something to be ashamed of just like our other bodily functions. Private but not shameful.

  111. Sam says...

    A good rule of thumb for the parent would be to defend their children from the sexist commentary that comes with raising girls. If we want to raise confident women who love themselves, we need to do to better in the face of commentary such as “and girls”. Girls are early adopters of technology, music and so much more. There is nothing frightening about them and we need to be more mindful of how we talk about them.

  112. Hel says...

    I would be so proud if my children made a Michael Scott reference.

    • Summer says...

      omg, me too!

    • Sasha L says...

      When my then 12 yo daughter was in the ER, in the throws of a really scary, life threatening mystery virus, a Dr was assessing her for meningitis (I think??), and she asked dd to try and push the dr’s hand away, as Dr held hand against her cheek, by turning her head against dr’s hand. My poor kid was really sick and could barely turn her head and the Dr was yelling “HARDER! HARDER!!!!!” And my kid, bless her heart, said, “that’s what she said.” Of course my husband and I, who were on the verge of tears we were so frightened, burst out laughing, and kid was laughing too. And the Dr, nope, didn’t get it at all. “Lady, your daughter is gravely ill.” “Um, yeah. I know.” Muttered mumbling and hanging heads…….. Still trying to stop laughing.

      She ended up being ok, after a spinal and morphine and cat scans and a week in the hospital. I knew she was going to make it when she made the joke, that was my girl.

  113. Joy says...

    I have a 16 year old daughter who got her first period when she was 9. In fourth grade. The smartest thing I did was advocate with her pediatrician to get her on the pill when she was 12 so that she could stop having her period (she takes the pills straight through, skipping the placebo week). I work for a contraceptive research organization and consulted several MD/researchers for guidance first. It was a good decision, both in terms of helping her manage her period and her life, but even more so-it avoids a difficult discussion under duress about her needing contraception. We still talk about the need to use condoms to prevent STDs and that I would like her tell me when she is sexually active, but hopefully we are avoiding a crisis conversation. And, she has the added benefit of not having to have a period unless she wants to.

    • t says...

      Hi Joy,

      This is a really interesting topic. May I ask what prompted you to advocate for her to go on the pill in the first place and why do you not want her (at this point) to have to cope with having a monthly period.

      I know very little about contraceptive hormones but how do they impact her or others at that age? thanks!

    • Sasha L says...

      I do this, period suppression. It’s just as safe as oral contraceptives ever are (taking them without a placebo week is equal in risk to doing the placebo week). I think young women who wish to use oral contraceptives should definitely be presented with the option of suppression. There are no *benefits* to the bleeding that happens during placebo week, but quite a few in suppression.

    • Abesha1 says...

      Periods ARE Gross. But so is poop.
      My sister got her period at 9… she hated it so much that she stayed on hormonal birth control that damaged her bones… and she died of breast cancer at 33.
      It’s all connected… but I wish she’d learned how to deal with the gross. I wish those hormones hasn’t started surging so young, and I wish she hadn’t then spent years pumping in more.

  114. Love this so much! My oldest is 13.5 and I have to say so far, I love parenting a teen! For me, it’s so much more enjoyable than the squishable baby stage.

    One I’d add that ‘s similar to the no-lawn-mower-parenting thing: let them fail. Think of how much better it is to fail well, when they’re in the security of living in your home with loving guidance and support, than out in the world on their own when they’ve hardly had the experience. Small, mostly-insignificant failures are some of the best life teachers, and I’d hate to deprive my kids of them. It’s hard, yes, especially they’re the people on the planet you love most… but we all learn so much from failures when we choose to embrace them as just part of life instead of exceptions to the rule.

    • Jeanne says...

      So true! I have a 13 yo girl and during 6th and 7th grades she had a series of “failures” around homework, grades, and not asking for help. She kept looking to me to help her but I told her she had to figure it out herself, which she did and we’re back on track in 8th grade. It’s so hard to sit back and watch them make mistakes but letting them experience failure in a safe environment is so key.

      P.S. I also love parenting a teen and found the baby years so hard; little babies kind of scare me!

  115. Andrea says...

    I love teenage girls! I used to lead a small group of juniors/seniors and had the BEST time. They are so passionate about everything they do and it’s contagious.

    I’d love to see essays/advice from foster parents, especially parents who foster teens. And a reminder that there is a huge need for foster homes that will take teen moms and their babies (not just one or the other). Oh, and there are programs where you can host a college-age kid foster kid who doesn’t have anywhere to go during school holidays.

    • Nicole Preston says...

      I would also love to see this!

  116. Lizzie says...

    Number eight, the one about period made me laugh. My mum always talked about so when my first came, all I said was mum i need a pad.
    In addition, i’m 10 years older thab my sister so one day, I think she was five, I was babysitting her and had to go to the bathroom (I took her with me, I didn’t trust her with the house) I asked what was that in my diapper I made a lovely story about the baby’s house and the body crying.
    When my dad found out, he was fourious with me me. Haha sorry dad, not sorry. A girl needs to know these things.

  117. Laura says...

    Great advice. The book The Self-Driven Child is a really great guide to not being a lawnmower parent and letting kids learn–and fail–on their own. I own about 15 parenting books and have finished exactly 3 of them and this is one. Big fan.

    • Molly K says...

      I’m reading that book right now! So far it makes so much sense to me.

  118. Abesha1 says...

    This is a good list.

    I do think it’s important to note that globally, it’s not “expected” that teens are “difficult.”

    • Ashley says...

      That’s a lovely reminder! Are they more difficult because we have been told they will be difficult? Babies are difficult and needy, but most people ooh and awww when you have one and don’t apologize to you about raising one. (Noted: Not a parent of teenager…yet.)

    • Anu says...

      Yeah, I have to second that. I find the wringing of hands about teenagers to be very American. I really don’t remember that attitude about teenagers in India growing up there.

  119. Jess Mill says...

    Loved this! I remember all the fights I’d have with my mom on the car ride from school. I also remember hating my younger sister who has mysteriously turned into one of my best friends?

    I think there’s this weird phenomenon that happens once you hit your twenties where you suddenly befriend your siblings and start understanding and accepting your parents. It’s terrifying.

    • Erin says...

      One of my uncles tells a joke that goes like this: “When I was a teenager, I thought my dad was the dumbest person ever. He didn’t know ANYTHING! Then when I was in my twenties, he seemed to get a tiny bit smarter, and when I was in my thirties he really did seem to know some stuff. Now I’m in my forties and THE MAN IS A GENIUS!” :)

  120. Amy Irene says...

    I’m a mama to a preteen girl and found this to be the most helpful list, like ever.

  121. susan says...

    This is terrific. Now please have one for raising teenage boys because they need to be taught something, too.

  122. Lois says...

    I agree with everyone unimpressed by the “sympathy” comments about having girls. I have a 16-yr-old girl and a 14-yr-old boy and the notion that I am somehow less besotted with them now than I was 5 or 10 years ago is absurd. Do parents of 10-year-olds love their children less than parents of infants? No way, we’ve had more years of experiences and things to fall in love with! I agree with all Jenny’s points. And the teenage years are a wonderful part of the whole parenting journey. Watching your babies learn to fly has some painful moments, for sure, but also many thrilling ones, too.

  123. Marissa says...

    I do not have children yet, but as someone who was a teenage girl, I can say this advice is so spot on. Especially 2, 3, 9 and 10.

  124. Awads says...

    Great to see Jenny contributing here! I’m a mom to an 11 year old boy and we have some of those same issues/rules. Right now, we are talking a lot about consent and respecting boundaries. he’s like, “i just want to go play fortnite now…” and then i threaten to do the floss (in public) and he’s all ears. :-)

    • Nina says...

      haha this made me laugh. my son is almost 11 (next month) and I’m starting to despise fortnite. I mistakenly bought him a headset with a mike and I don’t think he’ll ever talk to me again. I had to set limits on that yesterday. Plus, he lost electronics for the day because I told him to do his 30 minutes of reading and I go find him WATCHING YOUTUBE (just listening MOM!) while reading. wtactualf. Good thing, we live with his older cousins who aren’t making the best choices and he’s hopefully seeing what not to do even if he seems to not be listening to me.

  125. Laura says...

    Thank you. After a rough weekend with my teenage stepdaughter, I needed to read this today.
    I’ll also add (off-topic, sorry): I would love to see some step-parenting advice here on Cup of Jo, or more representation of blended families. I know there are others like me out there, but I have a hard time finding good content on it, and most of my peers are having their first (biological) children and can’t really relate. The struggle is real. Like, real real.
    You guys do such a fine job on other types of diversity, so I know you’d do a great job :) Thanks

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great idea, laura. we’d love to work on this. thank you so much xoxo

    • Samantha Blackmer says...

      Here here, Laura! I’m in the same boat and it can feel so totally isolating at times… like we’re adrift in the complicated oceans of old families, new families, and all the emotions running beneath the current.

    • Sarah says...

      Laura, I agree with this so much. I also have two stepdaughters, one of whom will be a teenager soon (she’s 11). Most of my peers also don’t have children (step or biological), and those that do have much, much younger children. This life is wonderful, but can be so difficult to navigate and it is hard to find people and experiences to relate to. I would also love to see more content about step-parenting and blended families in this safe, open space.

    • Emily says...

      This is a great suggestion! I am not a step-parent, but my husband is and it is hard to navigate sometimes. For everyone!

    • Katie says...

      Yes please! I am also a stepmother (to teenage boys) and man it can be lonely. Would love to see more about blended families here.

    • Sally says...

      Yes! Please! I am a stepmom to boys ages 9 and 10. It is a blessing but also SO SO challenging. It has seemed to become even more difficult after I had my son. I have had such a hard time finding advice.

    • talia says...

      Amen! While my stepchildren are now young adults, the struggle raising them is REAL! I would have welcome any and all help as I was the only one of my friend group in such a situation. Blended families is a diverse group that is rarely recognized.

    • D says...

      SAME!! parenting my teenage stepson usually feels “easy,” but dealing with his mother and her parenting decisions is always an anguish for my husband and me.

    • Y says...

      Hi Laura,
      I met my husband when my step daughter was 14 and she turned 40 yesterday! Hold your ground. Be the bad guy. Be a good example. Be strong. And love her, unconditionally, without judgement. When she is 20, she will call you to cry that her heart got broken. When she is 25, she will call to thank you for teaching her that choices have consequences. When she is 35, she will call you to come hold the baby while she sleeps because she is exhausted. She will be your best friend some day, but not right now. Right now she needs a strong adult. Good luck!

    • Michele says...

      Same here. I find step moming to be very difficult, complicated, lonely, and rarely rewarding. Would love to hear more experiences, advice, etc.

  126. Ashley says...

    I’m not a parent, nor am I thinking about being a parent anytime soon, but tell me why this list made me tear up!!

    Love,
    A former teenage daughter

    • Laura says...

      Same!

  127. I don’t have children yet but I think about parenting my future children all the time. Number 19 really hit home. Listening to kids (of all ages) is so important. I didn’t get listened to that often because ” I was too young” and it really caused me to doubt myself in my 20’s.

  128. So good. Currently, have a 15-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy (as of next week).
    So far, I’m finding that raising teens is about “Remembering” and “Reminding.” Remembering what it felt like being a teen (especially helpful for the epic meltdowns or friend dramas) and reminding yourself that this is a phase and a stage. And like any other age and stage, you’ll miss parts of it when it passes.
    Also, I’m not afraid of occasionally using their vocab, car dancing, etc. It might make me a little like Michael Scott but (most teenagers are obsessed with him) it gives them someone to laugh at and it makes for stories they will always love to tell.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my mom used to use so much of our slang and it was SO hilarious — she always used words slightly the wrong way. my sister and i still laugh about it, and we rolled our eyes but it made her lovable to us :)

    • Kimberly says...

      I clearly recall when my mom found “booty” was slang for butt. She thought all those kids and songs were talking about pirate money, or something. Hah! And they she was convinced that the phrase was “chew that,” not “true that.” When I corrected her (about 20 years ago) on this, she argued with me. “But that doesn’t make sense! Doesn’t it mean “think it over, digest it, CHEW on it?!” No mom, it’s an affirmation. As in: that’s true. True that.

      And now I cannot wait to find out what ridiculous slang I will hilariously misuse. I already make my college students cringe by referring to “THE Facebook.” Ah, a small joy of age.

    • Love that remembering/reminding connection! Good distinction.

  129. Traci says...

    I have said for several years now that teenagers are so much scarier than babies because they have problems that you can’t fix. I have sat in fear and a puddle of tears helping my girls navigate middle school (THE ABSOLUTE WORST) and then one on to high school. And boys and driving and parties. It is so hard and some days I am afraid we won’t get through it. Our parents did and we will too. I hope :-)

  130. wendy says...

    I just burst into tears as I scanned the comments, looking for any more helpful pearls of wisdom after that great list. The only word I can think to describe how I feel these days, after sending my oldest to middle school, is conflicted. Right now, she’s still a (mostly) sweet young kid, who occasionally has mood swings, but who also just loudly said, “Bye, I love you!” for anyone to hear when I dropped her oboe off to her in the school cafeteria. I say that I’m embracing the freedom of not knowing her school schedule, or what she has for homework, or when her tests are, unless she tells me. But I’m also so sad to start letting her go already. Thanks for always seeming to know what your readers are going through.

  131. Cynthia says...

    I only had boys but I made my home a gathering place by having plenty of food around! Nothing fancy but always the basics for the guys to whip up some burritos or egg sandwiches, chips and salsa, veggies and hummus. There’s nothing I liked seeing more than my kitchen in total disarray and then sitting with the guys while they chowed down. I also kept a stack of top sheets, blankets, and pillows in the linen closet so anyone could spend the night. Some mornings I woke up to every couch in the house taken.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love this, so sweet.

    • Simone says...

      This is my goal. I have two boys who are little now, but I already want our house to be the safe-landing space for all their friends when they get older and more independent. I didn’t have that growing up and it’s so important. Even if I do end up living in a Costco to keep food stocked :)

    • Hanna Merkley says...

      Notes taken. Thank you!

    • Sarah says...

      My mother-in-law did this too, and cemented friendships with two good guys who will be my husband’s friends for life. She did whatever she could to foster good clean fun for the boys: video games, snack fridge, and my favorite, renting a full-size inflatable bounce house. They had to make the boys hide while the company set it up because gangly high school boys were surely beyond the weight limit. (15 years later, and the boys haven’t forgotten it– the Best Man wrote it into his speech at our wedding this summer!)

    • Quinn says...

      Oh I love this! Going to keep this in mind as my kids grow.

    • Allie says...

      Yes, yes, yes to this! My boys are 12 and 9 and I love when they bring their friends over and we get to be the (safe) space where they can eat, relax and stay connected with each other (and me!).
      I’d love to see some discussion about parenting teens and alcohol. I feel strongly that teens shouldn’t drink in high school at all, but in casual discussions with parents of my kids friends, I’m realizing not everyone is on the same page.

    • kash says...

      Cynthia, my mom did this–the pantry alllllways had extra jars of salsa, bags of taco chips, and cases of soda (it was the 90s! soda was not evil yet!). My mom also didn’t make it a big deal if my friends came over while she was cooking or doing laundry or if the house was untidy or otherwise just, like, living life. It made it super easy and low-pressure for my friends to come hang out, and she made it clear that they were always welcome–and for me, it really helped me feel relaxed at home.

  132. Jessica says...

    I’m not a parent but I am a college professor and can echo Jenny’s advice about Lawn Mower Parenting. So many of my students opt out of having the most basic conversations with me about missing a class or not understanding an assignment because they have no idea how to have those intimidating conversations/are petrified of having them. And I’m nice! And usually want to help! Giving them practice on clearing their own paths as teenagers is actually a gift that can help them navigate that very tricky road between adolescence and adulthood.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a helpful point, jessica. thank you so much for sharing your perspective.

    • Samantha says...

      Someone recently told me that it’s not the job of the parent to prepare the path for the child but to prepare a child for the path. So true, so simple (in theory) but devastatingly difficult to do!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that quote, samantha.

    • Stephanie says...

      Good news– at our middle and high schools they are making a HUGE push about this and telling both parents and students that the student needs to come to the teacher first. It was everywhere on back to school night. It’s an important message in our sort of district where you get a lot of helicoptering and lawnmowing.

    • Amanda says...

      Another college professor here to reiterate this point. Many of my students have a hard time having serious conversations with me, and I constantly encourage them to do so. Teens definitely need some guidance still, but they also need some practice addressing things that they’re struggling with on their own. I don’t envy parents in figuring out how to strike the right balance though!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I think I need to hear more from you Professor Jessica. This is endlessly fascinating to me and something I think about ALL THE TIME. (Just because I wrote it as a rule, doesn’t mean I follow it.) Thank you for commenting!

  133. Katherine says...

    Add to the list: the clothes are the problem, not your body.

    Also, add to #11: It’s not a flash drive, it’s a Juul and it’s not allowed in our house or your mouth.

    Also also, is Jenny now a regular contributor? Because that would be THE BEST EVER. I adore her and think she’d be a great addition to COJ!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!!! jenny has been coming into the office once a week lately and hopefully our relationship will just be growing from here on out! we ADORE her. will keep you posted :) xoxoxoxo

    • Sydni Jackson says...

      “the clothes are the problem, not your body.” RIGHT ON!

  134. Karen says...

    We have two girls, ages 5 and 6, and have been hearing the “Uh Oh, you have two girls!” cautionary statement for years already – and it is so annoying! My husband and I decided a while back that we’re not going to fear the teenage phase. Brace ourselves for it, yes – but not fear it. Ha!

    • Louisa says...

      Hear hear!! This is such a pet peeve. Do you tell dog owners, “Oh, just you wait! They’re going to die one day and you’ll be really sad!” –NO! you DO NOT DO THIS! So please don’t tell me and my mommy-adoring-four-year-old how miserable we will be. First, I refuse to believe it. Second, if it does come to pass, I can’t imagine I will be grateful for the smug prediction.

  135. Elle says...

    Thank you for this! As the mom of a thirteen-er, I try everyday to find a way to provide advice, be supportive but be cool and give her the space she needs to blossom. It’s scary and amazing all at the same time!

  136. Natasha Ayers says...

    I feel seriously old. Jenny’s work (and by association, her kids) have been featured on this site before over the years. They used to be much younger and not teenagers. Wow.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, time flies! we hung out with old friends this weekend, and when we met their kids were essentially toddlers. now their daughter is 13, and totally into running and baking, and tall and lanky, and almost a woman! it’s crazy how quickly they grow up. xoxoxoxo

  137. Carrie says...

    This list frightens me. My own past teenage antics frighten me. Hopefully when I do have kids, they’re boys… which somehow I’ve diluted myself into believing are easier to handle as teens.

    • Jan says...

      Not easier, and not that much different than girls! The entire list applies to sons as well as daughters….

    • t says...

      Yes I am so terrified. Not of the cruelty or the lack of confidence or anything other than sex, drugs and alcohol. I was such a rebellious and overly sensitive teenager that i only survived that phase by divine intervention I presume. But drugs are more dangerous and prevalent now. I guess the only thing I am grateful for is ride sharing.

  138. Cait says...

    Yes a thousand times to the picture thing. If there is one lesson that could be imparted to all teenage girls (and college girls, and women, and basically any human,) it should be this one. The Internet and phones are FOREVER and people you trust today won’t always be the people you can trust in the future.

  139. Hilary says...

    My younger daughter was 4 weeks old when we went to get a Christmas tree. One nosy lady was following us around and finally stopped me and said “oh it is a baby not a doll you are carrying'”. She looked at my then 3 year old daughter and said “oh you have 2 girls, you poor thing. I had all boys”. A bit taken a back I said “oh you poor thing”. She then exclaimed “Oh I would rather have a 100 boys than girls, do you know how bitchy teenage girls are?” I almost burst into tears but she unleashed a fire in me to ensure all teenage girls know that their value and that my girls know I would rather have them 100 boys.

    • Josie says...

      Amen! I am the mother of grown daughters and can tell you that not only did we easily survive the teenage years (while my brother’s boys nearly did NOT), but my girls are now among my best friends and they have enriched my life immeasurably. I cannot stand misogynist women short-sighted and mean enough to say anything derogatory and suspect they are jealous.

    • Liv says...

      That is a terrible thing that she said to you! Please know that she is not representing moms of all boys very well at all. I am a mom of 4 boys and I know that I am in for it in my own way. Every child is different and they can be a handful (or “easy”) at any age, regardless of sex! So whether a parent has all girls, all boys, or a sprinkling of each, we should all laugh together as much as possible and support one another on this wild, joyful journey of parenthood… NOT compare and contrast children, and certainly not based on gender. xx

    • Jen says...

      Unbelievable! That’s so awful. I have gotten the worst comments about my three boys, and it used to really upset me — especially when they were babies (twins) and a toddler. One barista once said to me, in front of my very impressionable 4-year-old: “Poor you, I’m so sorry you’ll have to live with three teenage boys. Your house is going to be so gross…you know how gross they are. Plus then boys never talk to you anymore when they grow up.” My little guy was a little freaked out and wondered when exactly he would turn gross and why he wouldn’t talk to me anymore when he got older.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      jen, yes! i am HEARTBROKEN when people say “when you have a daughter, you have a daughter for life. when you have a son, you have a son until he’s 18.” makes me devastated. i keep looking around for grown men (like my husband) who are close with their moms. they do exist! xoxoxo

    • Charlotte says...

      What the hell. I don’t accept the idea that children belonging to one gender are inherently more difficult/more *any quality* than the other. It’s hard to raise decent human beings — full stop.

      As for the woman you met, she’ll never understand the irony that labeling an entire group of women as bitches is the bitchiest thing anyone can do. *eyeroll* Sounds to me like a case of liars believing everyone lies and thieves believing that everyone thieves. I hope that you’ll be proud of raising baby girls! I have always preferred the company of women. My husband is my best friend, but my female friendships are gold.

    • Joanna and Jen: my 33 year old husband and his twin brother are huge mama’s boys, and visit my mother-in-law multiple times a week. And likewise, my (also twin) uncles see their mom, my 96 year old Oma, every single day!

    • Sasha L says...

      I have two daughters, and life as a mom is never all that easy, but I loved having girls, every stage including as teens and now as young adults. Yep, it’s hard. It’s all hard. I’m sure having boys or both is wonderful too. And hard too. It’s just humans, it’s just about loving humans and getting through the day with slightly more joy than suffering, if possible.

    • Snezana says...

      I have 3 daughters, two of whom are currently teenagers, and have had more than one person say “I’m sorry” when they learn that fact, which enrages me. To me it plays on the awful stereotypes of girls, particularly teenage girls, and while they might stress me out at times, my children are not stereotypes or cliches. They are individuals, not only their gender, not only their age, though those factors play a strong role in who they currently are. Same goes for boys! I can’t imagine ever saying something like that to a person.

  140. Meghan says...

    I have 4 girls (currently ages 8,6,5, & 3) I needed to read this!! 😩

  141. shade says...

    This might also apply to my overly aware 5 year old boy who thinks he’s a teenager.

  142. celeste says...

    Omigosh these are great, especially #13. Not to nerd out, but I’m printing and talking about one a day at bedtime with my 10 year old. Especially since she told me what Fortnite is about (shooting others) and it’s now banned in my house.

  143. Sanda Fuchs says...

    Great list, Jenny! Thanks. As a mother of three young adults (respectively-20, 17, almost 14), I really appreciate this kind of sharing and would be happy to read more on teenage parenting and other timely ( for 40++) issues:-). love your blog and have one of your books. ❤️

  144. Nectar says...

    Don’t force them to diet, or tell them they should lose weight

    • Sara says...

      I agree with this (as a daughter, not a mother). My mom always compared my body to hers, or my sister and I’s bodies and I grew up feeling very conflicted and insecure about my shape/weight. She was also always dieting, or saying negative things about herself and I feel like it took me until my early 30’s to get over this and realize it’s not normal or healthy.

    • Tory Stroker says...

      Amen!

    • Nectar says...

      @Sara
      I feel I had it similar. My mom unfortunately put me on a diet for the 1st time at 4th grade and did until I was well into high school, I would sneak food since my mom wouldn’t allow me to eat any at home. Then she would say guys wouldn’t like me unless I was skinny.

      It also took me until I was 31 to finally get over it.

    • Melody says...

      omg, yes. I wish my mom would have approached healthy eating and exercising from a perspective of building good habits for long term physical and mental health, as opposed to losing weight.

    • Amanda says...

      THIS. Also, on the flip side, if they are thin then please don’t suggest that it’s some kind of virtue or accomplishment. That feeds into the same bullshit, and can backfire if she gains weight later on.

      For the most part, just don’t comment at all on a teenage girl’s size or try to force her to eat a certain way.

    • Kate says...

      I think this applies to Moms as well. Don’t diet, don’t say you always need to lose weight. That message enters your child’s brain and sits there festering.

  145. Elise says...

    This list is fantastic! As a high school teacher who sees “another side” of teens, this hits the nail on the head. Much of this is applicable to boys too!

  146. I am a functional medicine coach for adolescents specializing in positive psychology, and I have a 15 and almost 17 year old. The thing I’d add is: enjoy them. There are so many gifts in these button-pushing teens & how many of us know that incredible feeling of being really, truly seen, heard & enjoyed for who we are & are becoming? That is where the magic happens with teens.

    • Cheryl says...

      Agreed! There is SO MUCH to enjoy. My kiddos are 14 and 16, and they are sarcastic and insightful and selfish and kind and hilarious and delightful. And they are starting to shower more, so, much less smelly than the middle school years. :-)
      I read “Untangled” by Lisa Damour, PhD last year, and I highly recommend it as an evidence-based, practical guide to parenting teen girls. Damour actually LIKES teens, so she comes at the topic with a lot of affection – and tons of experience.

    • Scarlett says...

      Wow, Misha your career sounds really interesting! How did you get into that? How do you like what you do?

    • Scarlett, I LOVE my job so much! I studied psych and functional medicine coaching. I get to help teens feel in charge of their own bodies and empowered to listen to them and ask for what they need to take care of themselves – be it medically, or to regulate their emotions, or to cope with trauma and grief. It is so rewarding! I highly recommend it.

  147. Sakina says...

    I would say that this entire list applies to teenage boys as well!

    • Jenn H says...

      I will be entering the teen boy stage soon, my sons are 9 and 11 . I am grateful for this post and to learn it applies to boys too. Thank you.

  148. Courtney says...

    I’m pregnant with my second right now and it’s a girl (we already have a boy). And maybe it’s just the pregnancy hormones but I am silently crying at my desk. This is wonderful and terrifying.

  149. Kika says...

    *weeps, as my 10 and 7 year olds play school.