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Best Advice for Parents of Teenagers

Did someone ever give you a piece of advice that changed the way you parent? Good parenting advice that you really needed at that moment is something you never forget. The staff of Your Teen share with you the best parenting advice we ever received. We’ve applied this advice, and it has made a difference. We hope you find something here that’s valuable for you.

Best Advice for Parents of Teenagers:

1. Always be on your kid’s side.

Whenever your kids tell you about a problem they had with a teacher or another kid, it’s tempting to jump on them immediately and to criticize their behavior or the way they responded. Instead, let your kids know that you support and love them, even if they’ve made a bad decision, instead of being the first to criticize them.

2. Your child is not you.

It is so tempting to want your kids to be just like you with the same likes, dislikes, attitudes, and interests—even about trivial things like ice cream preferences, hairstyles or clothing tastes. It leads to clashing with your kids over things that, in the end, aren’t important. If it isn’t tied to your values, core beliefs, or family rules, let it go.

3. Let your kids experience challenges.

There is value in letting your kids experience challenges in order to learn how to develop resilience. Consider struggles a gift and an opportunity to build resilience.

4. Ask your child what they need.

You don’t need to guess whether your kids want you to solve their problem, give advice, or just listen. Just ask them. It provides them with the opportunity to decide, and then to let you know.

5. Remember it’s just a stage.

Your kids are rapidly changing—sometimes from month to month. Be present in the moment and know that someday you will miss whatever stage they’re currently in. And for the stages you don’t like so much (the eye rolling, oh the eye rolling!), it helps you to hold onto your patience, if only by a thread.

6. Start as you mean to go on.

Whatever parenting choice you make, decide how you want things to look months and years down the road, not just in the moment. Whether it’s rules for homework and chores, expectations for behavior, establishing curfews, allowances, whatever—override the temptation to take the “easy” way out in the moment by trying to start as you mean to go on.

7. You don’t have to fix it.

Your instinct as a parent may be to problem-solve. You may feel your job is to make things better. Except, that isn’t the case at all. As soon as you realize that your job is to be there, to support, and to listen, and NOT to fix, you became a more relaxed parent. Not only that, you show your kids that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable, to do hard things, and to struggle a little. They might need your shoulder, but they don’t need a rescue.

8. Accept their feelings.

Just saying, in essence, “I hear you and your feelings count,” has an almost instantaneous calming effect. It doesn’t change the situation, but accepting their feelings definitely changes your relationship for the better.

9. Sometimes they just want to vent.

Sometimes your kids cope with their stresses, worries, and concerns by dumping them into your lap. Then they feel better and continue on with life. Try to remember to listen, to hold out your arms, (figuratively, to catch all their stuff) and know that they don’t always want you to offer advice or solve their problems. They just need to a place to dump it all. Mom’s arms are usually a good, safe place.

10. Raise the child you were given, not the one you thought you would have.

Focus on the kid in front of you, not the ones you observed or heard about (which may or may not be the truth anyway).

11. Have empathy.

When they are upset, simply say, “that sucks/stinks. Wow, that must feel awful.” They just want to be heard. No fixing, no judging, no advice. Just empathy.

12. Let your partner parent.

Don’t micromanage or criticize. If you don’t agree, talk about it later, not around the kids.

13. Let your kids know that it’s okay to break up with a friend.

Just because they’ve known someone since they were five doesn’t mean that they have to be friends forever.

14. Figure what is most important to you and teach your children that.

Some things are non-negotiable and that’s okay. A tattoo may be a deal breaker for one parent, but not that important to you.

15. Things cannot always be equal.

Remember that each kid has different needs. Aim for fair instead of equal.

16. Encourage your kids to pursue different interests from one another.

Sometimes having different interests can reduce sibling rivalry and constant comparison, and allow each child to be the expert in their “thing.” One may choose flute and marching band, the other violin and orchestra. One studies Latin, the other Spanish. This may not eliminate sibling rivalry completely (that would be a miracle), but it allows siblings to appreciate one another’s talents without taking away from their own abilities.

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17. Be home base that your kids can always come back to.

Your job as a parent is to be left. You stay in one place as your kids explore further and further from you, coming back to home base when they need to check in. Doing your job as a parent means letting them go, knowing they will come back. And they do, just not as often. And that means you did it right.

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