parenting teens advice

parenting teens advice

When it comes to new parenting revelations and hilarious kid stories, the Cup of Jo comment section is where it’s at. But today we want to talk about the big kids. So, here are 16 reader comments on raising teenagers…

On hanging with friends:

“Buy a ping-pong table and put it in your basement. It’s so much better than video games. They will play with their friends, with their little sister and her friends, and even with their mom. A little friendly competition is fun, and by the time they become an adult, they will be wicked good.” — Bevin

“Always be the after-the-event pick-up mom, even if it means an 11 p.m. pickup in your pjs. Your kid and their friends will be extra chatty. If you stay quiet, you will learn lots about what is going on in their lives that they don’t share with you when you ask questions like ‘how was your day.’ When you are the pre-event carpool driver, the kids are quiet and don’t say much.” — Diane

On helping them grow:

“Don’t project your lingering adolescent insecurities onto your children. I still proudly call myself a band nerd (dorkestra) and I *hated* high school with the heat of ten-thousand suns. HOWEVER, my daughter has social graces and athletic abilities that I never possessed. She’s even a cheerleader – a cheerleader! I can’t redo my own angsty years – thank god – but I can do this: I can teach my child that the other kids in school may be shy and awkward, but they have rich lives, including inner lives, and they deserve respect and empathy. In turn, she has taught me that the ‘cool’ kids have the same problems that we all have: anxiety, abuse, awkwardness, divorce, shame, insecurity, etc, and if you take the time to get to know someone, they are often delightful.” — Emily

On creating space for conversations:

“As a teenager, I would lean my face against the door frame of my mom’s bathroom, half in the room and half in the hall, while she got ready in the morning. There was something so soothing about watching her methodically work through her beauty routine. There, I spilled out an ocean of teenage doubts and anxieties and joys. It became a sacred place. I vividly remember when I was sharing a particularly deep heartache, and after finishing her routine, she washed off her fresh makeup and started all over again. It was the gift of a few extra moments in the doorway to offload the burdens of my heavy teenage heart; it was a small and quiet act of love I’ll never forget.” — Meg

“Early morning solo car rides to school have become vital for open discussions with my 14-year-old and 10-year-old sons. We discuss music and sports, but also meaningful topics such as learning about ‘consent’ in health class, how to navigate a friend being diagnosed with cancer, or what it means to date. What I realize is that I truly LIKE the person each of my boys is becoming. Having a judgement-free zone, where they feel safe to ask questions, is priceless.” — Amanda

On getting on their wavelength:

“As the mother of two teenage boys, I have been astounded to discover that the dreaded teenage years have been a delight. To share books and films and music in a mutual way is wonderful. As their personalities fill their suddenly tall, almost-adult bodies, I find myself in wonder at who they are becoming.” — Michelle

“I asked all three about their music preferences, and, even though they’re now grown, they are still suggesting ‘music Mom would like.'” — Diana

On raising teenage girls:

“Your relationship with your body becomes her relationship with her body. It’s worth investing heavily in improving that, particularly in a culture where the other messages they are hearing about their body from the media, etc., are carrying such a negative weight.” — Fiona

On raising teenage boys:

“Teenage boys are so often loud, stinky creatures, but underneath it all, they are desperate to connect, to know they matter. Research shows that one thing that can change the course of an at-risk teenager’s life is for one adult to care about them.” — Meghan

On communicating rules:

“My mother always explained the ‘why’ behind her decisions. When the inevitable cry would boom ‘But why, Mom?!’ she’d take the time to give me a true, non-snarky answer. I’ll never forget one day when she said to me, ‘You know how I always answer when you ask me why? I do it so you’ll trust that I have good reasons.’” — Meg

“1) Sleep, sleep, sleep! Teens need 9-10 hours a night for their developing minds and bodies. Many angsty teens are just horribly sleep-deprived.
2) Think of puberty as a restart button. I had to re-teach my teens how to make beds, clean a bathroom, say please, apologize, etc. If you remember this aspect, it won’t be so frustrating when they seem to have forgotten all you once taught them.” — Janan

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

On growing up:

“My 14-year-old is now over six feet tall. The other day, he leaned down to tell me what he wanted when we went to order at Five Guys, and it made my heart burst. He’s usually pretty independent, but sometimes you just need your mom to order your burger.” — Jess

“My teenage son will sometimes crawl into bed with us, saying ‘Sorry, I can’t sleep.’ Every time he does, I think, ‘This will definitely be the last time,’ and I savor having him there, holding my hand, falling asleep instantly, still small on the inside… for today.” — Andrea

“The truth is that raising my teens has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding. Between the fighting the crying and the judgment there are glimpses of beautiful people waiting to emerge once their hormones calm down!” — Cristine

“At least once a day, look her in the eye, smile and tell your teen, ‘I love you.'” — Megan

P.S. More advice on parenting teens, including 21 subjective rules for raising teenage boys, and 21 subjective rules for raising teenage girls. Plus, sex-positive parenting for prudes.

(Photo by Melanie DeFazio/Stocksy.)