Mom Advice: Tips for Parenting Teens

hannah

My oldest daughter turned 17 this month, and in addition to answering the typical "Are you even old enough to have a 17 year old?" {answer: yes, I started young!}, I also hear a lot of "I am NOT looking forward to the teenage years!"

While these years with my daughter have been challenging, they've also been excitinginspiring, and a whole lot of fun.  Nothing any parent should fear or dread.  I often try to convince my friends of this, and assure them that there will be many laughs, a kinship and closeness with your children you've never realized before, and a certain sense of hope for the future.  It can truly be a fantastic time in parenting.

I will say, though, that I learned two essential lessons {the hard way, how else?} almost immediately after becoming a parent of teens, and perhaps they can help you as well:

  1. Don't take anything personally. I was given this advice before having teens, and it seemed easy enough to remember.  That is...until I was given the cold shoulder for weeks on end, shut out, treated with impatience like I was just a speck.  Oh, how that killed me.  And oh, how I took it personally.  The problem with taking things personally with a teenager is that just as soon as they shut you, they need you there, and if you are stuck with your hurt and your grudges, it's hard to be that safe place to land.  I made it clear that I expected to be treated with respect, I cried into my pillow with grief over losing the little girl I once knew, and then I poured my efforts into remaining constant and open to her despite my hurt.  And you know what?  She came right back to me, time and again.
  2. Never say I told you so. When my daughter chooses to go in exactly the opposite direction as I counsel her to, it's tempting to be irritated or smug when the unhappy outcome is just as I expected.  I've had to bit my tongue many times and simply open my arms, let her cry or rail or wallow, and experience for herself nature's way of cause and effect.  Only later do I take the chance to point out my earlier concerns, when she's a bit removed and able to see the wisdom in it.  Love and comfort first, teach and redirect later - that's the formula that has worked for me.

What about you?  Are you a parent of teens?  What are some things you've learned that you would tell mothers of young children to help them prepare for the teenage years?

You can connect with Stacey on her personal blog, Tree, Root, and Twig, or on Twitter and

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