Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Teens tend to get a lot of flack from parents. Way too often when I talk to parents about their teens it is full of stress and exhaustion and speaking about their teens like it is full of way more difficulty than joy.
Teens are a rough group to parent- finding themselves plus raging hormones that they seem to not be able to communicate outside of attitudes can be overwhelming. But, I am here today to give you some tips for parenting teens that I think will help a little bit.
1. They experience more stress, conflict, peer pressure, etc. than you will ever know.
It hurts to hear but your teen is not going to tell you everything. You can definitely build your relationship to a point where they tell you a majority of things but expecting them to tell you every single thing is going to lead to disappointment. With that understanding, remember that when you speak to them, when you are correcting them, etc. I hear ALL THE TIME from parents/adults, "you're a kid, you don't pay bills, what could you possibly be stressed about". And it drives me INSANE!
Are your only stressors bills? NO! There is much more in the world to stress about than bills. And having this perception your child will never come to you about what they are experiencing because you are ultimately invalidating their feelings and experiences. Look back at your high school experience, not with the eyes of a parent or adult but as a 14-18 year old- the peer pressure, homework, working a full or part time job, trying to manage time with your friends on top of home and school responsibilities and extracurriculars, rumors, teachers that also forgot what it was like to be in high school, boyfriends/girlfriends, friends that switch up every day, etc.
2. Be open to WHATEVER they tell you
This is a huge way to conquer issues regarding number one. You reaction to the things they tell you will determine what they share and how much they share with you. This includes when they tell you good things that have happened and mistakes, things their friends have done that you don't approve of, thoughts and ideas they are having (positive or negative), etc.
It can be easy to punish for what they are telling you but take a minute and remember lies are told because of fear. Sometimes punishment is necessary but really take time to think about if there needs to be additional punishment or if the experience is the punishment. For instance, say your teen comes to you and tells you that their friends were smoking cigarettes and offered him/her some but they did not take it, or that they did take one but hated it and never want that again. You can either yell and scream and be upset and demand that they never spend time with or talk to those friends again resulting only in them never being honest with you again about adverse experiences and sneaking around to hang with those friends. OR You can thank them for telling you, ask what their experience was like, allow them the space to discuss with you without fear resulting in a new relationship growth, trust for the future, and the likelihood they will continue making positive decisions with those friends or choose other friends altogether.
3. Stop fussing at them to get off of their phones!
Socializing with peers and friends is a HUGE part of development at this age - so much so that it is mentioned in Erik Erikson's stages of development. Validation from peers as well as the connection to them is extremely important.