What to expect when Parenting Teens

I was going to call this post Teen Parenting – but the misplaced modification made me laugh a little and then think I’d perhaps mislead you, sweet audience. So, less glib, more reminiscence in the title, and then a meandering piece, because I’ve missed posting.

I used to blog about kids and family – posting pictures of kids and snapshots of the difficulties and joys (in equal parts, I hope) that come with raising infants, toddles, and young children. It felt like growing those children would take forever, and yet, they became teenagers, and I realized the rules I used to surround their online presence, should likely apply to my own. This means modeling good social media behavior by asking of permission before posting – which extends to blogs, being more personal and all. Permission for pictures? No.

Permission for words? No(t usually)

Permission to post? near every time, I’ve been met with No.

And so, I shifted – writing around raising children; about education; about faith; and failure; and about all the other pieces without explicitly connecting my “no post” teens to the words. I guess that’s what I’m going to continue doing here, but I felt I needed a caveat – or an explanation.

Here, I want to reach out into the world with words of wisdom for myself to remember, and words to maybe encourage, or make other feels not so alone in the midst of these years with teens at home, and teens moving on to young adulthood.

These are some things I have learned about parenting, socializing, respecting, and authority from my teens, and from student teens I have been teaching over the past nine years:

  1. Teens are not always prepared to listen, but they need you to be.
  2. Teens may expect you to listen as they wax eloquent about new-to-them information – half-knowledges, and opinions about all manner of things. Remember to just Listen.
  3. If, in these moments of delirious discussion, when teens are sharing their newly formed understandings and opinions you interject to correct, or give your own opinion, this will be met with complete shutdown – or quite possibly – frustrated shouts, groans, or eyerolls.
    • Friends, do not be alarmed or offended, these teens do not seek to put down your correction, or opinions (not really) – they’re just pushing back against the dissonance in their own newly acquired knowledge – knowledge about which they think they are now experts. This too, shall pass.
  4. Give it a week, and then prepare yourself to listen again(and perhaps consider investing in a mouth guard if you are prone to grind your teeth in moments of frustration). Within a week, someone else – maybe a teacher, or stranger, or friend’s parent – will convey the information you attempted to provide in your interjection, and one evening when it is way past your bedtime and you are propping your eyelids open in order to listen, you will find that you are listening to the teen sharing the exact correction or opinion you gave the week prior, as though it were completely new to them and to you.
  5. Breathe – and give hugs whenever you can.
  6. Listen.
  7. On occasion, when the teen is looking glum, staring off into space, or seems as though they find nothing interesting in the world – remind yourself of the importance of boredom (do NOT at anytime, under any circumstances, remind the teen of this truth) – Boredom leads to creativity and innovation, after all, and creativity and innovation may look like glumness on your teen, until it turns into some kind of new and wonderful joy.
    • In these instances, providing tips to inspire creativity can sometimes be met with acceptance and action, while other times again with complete shutdown. You know your teen (right?!) choose wisely (good luck)
  8. Breathe.
  9. Give hugs
  10. Listen

Clearly, it is only the first list of many I could make, but it is one that feels pertinent to these long long days of the end of Summertime when it is over 110 during the day and doesn’t get below 90 before bedtime. Days where talking doesn’t start until late into the evening, and my brain is trying so hard to keep up with all of the cares and concerns of these budding lovely brains. These long, hot days, make for many days filled with exhausted, bored, overwhelmed, teens and parents, all circling the same house.

Lord have mercy.

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