Points for Parents of Teens to Ponder ~ (lessons learned from the trenches)

1.  Don’t lower yourself to their tactics. Teens need you to be the adult.

2. If you become just as emotional and blaming as the teen, it will only get worse. (Believe me, I’ve tried it.)

3. Think.  Where do you stand?  What are your limits and expectations?

4. Ask yourself: “How important is it?”  Choose your battles wisely.

5. Be calm and firm.  If you’re triggered and can’t be calm, be strong enough to walk away.   Remember: QTIP ~ Quit Taking It Personally & HALT ~ Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired which means if you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired it’s time to “Halt” and take a break.

6. You can empathize without giving in. (For example, “sounds frustrating”, “how embarrassing”, “bummer”)

7. Let your teen take responsibility for themselves more and more as they get older. (For example, if they get a low grade say, “That must be embarrassing to get a D.” Then stop and let them respond. Then say, “How do you think you’ll deal with it?” Let the teen take responsibility for their mistakes so they can learn from their mistakes. (I know it’s hard for parents to do this, but eventually they will be able to think for themselves and not expect you to fix all their problems for them.)

8. Brain research has found that “the brain optimally grows through making mistakes”. If this is how we learn, why are we so hard on our kids when they make mistakes? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Is anyone really perfect?

9. When the teen keeps trying to negotiate with you (such as wanting to go out with friends and neglect his/her studies), simply state your expectations and leave the room. (“I want you to focus on your studies first.”)

10.  Stop talking so much! Keep it short and sweet.

11.  Don’t make threats you don’t intend to follow through on.

12.  Your own self respect will increase if you try to follow the previous points…..& undoubtedly your teen will respect you more as well.

13.  Call another parent of a teen.  We need a lot of support to walk through adolescence and we can do it better together. (It really does take a village to raise a child.)

14.  It’s OK to ask for help.  There is no road map.  Most of our parents didn’t know how to raise a teenager very well either. Remember?

15.  Remember:  You are their GUIDE, CONSULTANT, COACH and they still need YOU, believe it or not. The overly permissive or the overly controlling style of parenting doesn’t work well with teenagers. Choose the middle ground. Be there to guide them with strength and compassion, firmness and love.

16.  Do your best, get support, then emotionally let go and enjoy your own life.  It’s time to start a hobby if you haven’t already.

17.  Have a kind sense of humor.  Teens appreciate it and it will save your mental health.

18.  Take a break.  Sit down, put your feet up, breathe, relax once a day.

19.  Exercise – the #1 best stress reliever. Do something you enjoy, something that nurtures you, not another thing you “gotta do”. (Walking is something humans have always done.) If you don’t like being alone, ask a friend to walk with you, or walk the neighbor’s dog.

20.  Make time for fun date nights with that special spouse and/or best friend. Turn the TV off and invite friends over for a potluck and board games. It doesn’t have to cost a lot.

21.  Remember:  “The journey of parenting is the journey of self-discovery.” (My sister-in-law told me that many years ago after she had raised 5 children. She was right.)

22.  Enjoy the ride, however bumpy it may be. Before you know it, your kids will be grown and the teen years will be a memory.

23. Treasure the present moment.

Linda Marten’s “Wisdom from the Trenches of Parenthood”, 2011

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About Linda Marten, MSW

Linda Marten is a California Credentialed Parent Educator since 1998, a former LAUSD parent educator & teacher advisor for 14 years, and a Member of the California Teachers Association (CTA) . She holds a Masters degree in Social Work from University of Washington and has extensive experience teaching and training parents and teachers. Linda leads interactive, informative workshops for parents, youth, and teachers from diverse socio-economic, racial and cultural backgrounds focusing on numerous issues related to parenting as well as helping youth who want to stop being bullied. Ms. Marten is a "bully expert" and has had great success teaching youth the "Bullies to Buddies" method developed by Izzy Kalman, school psychologist. Linda provides private sessions by appointment. She is also the mother of two children.
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One Response to Points for Parents of Teens to Ponder ~ (lessons learned from the trenches)

  1. Dan says:

    Excellent wisdom. The only thing I would add is to remember to take time to make decisions. Teenagers want everything right now, but most things are not that urgent. Delay a response if we don’t know how we want to respond so we can think about it or talk it over with someone.

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