Any tips on how to raise a teenager?

I hope you have some – because, frankly, most parents are at sea when their little darlings reach those teenaged years.

These three teenagers turned out great!

Teenagers! These three turned out great

“An alien inhabited my son’s body when he turned twelve, and it didn’t leave till he was in college,” a friend once told me. “It seemed like a long time, but the alien finally departed.” I’ve repeated this wisdom to other friends many times, and it seems to help. When you’re suffering from the throes of your teenager’s angst – often aimed directly at you! – it seems that little monster will never go. Maybe your beloved child will be rude and disrespectful forever!  Well, maybe. But in most cases, your child’s basic personality returns sometime during college. That’s a huge relief.

The women I interviewed for Warm Cup of Wisdom seemed divided on this question.

  • One said, “Your job now is to trust them and let you know you trust them.”
  • Another said, “My children all did horrendous things. Just trusting doesn’t work.”
  • Another said, “I’d go to bed crying a lot because she was just so awful to us.”
  • Another said, “You have to accept them for who they are, not what you want them to be.”
  • And another: “If you try your best, then you shouldn’t beat yourself up about how they turn out.”

The trick is to balance guidance – and they do need guidance during what could be dangerous years – with the need to let go and encourage independence.  With every kid, the balance is different.

What’s your experience?  I’ll bet it’s as unique as you  – and your children.

- and here are the answers from my readers! -

One of my goals for this blog is to start an interactive discussion – raising provocative questions and encouraging readers to answer.  This approach fits with my belief that wisdom can be found in ordinary people – if we seek it. Here are some great tips offered (from my Facebook friends) when I asked for tips on guiding your child through the teenage years.

Sidney (age 93, father of four adult children):

“One key: both give clear guidance AND be an all-round friend of the child, not just a parent. Works wonders. We never had that sort of teen-age alienation, and I think it was because both parents were pals of the four kids and they liked to spend time with us.”

Who knew we’d travel to Thailand together someday?

Shelley (currently raising a teenaged son):

“If you already laid the foundation of respect – mutual – just keep it up. As always with kids, focus on what’s really important. Just the right amount of age-appropriate trust in them goes a long way. They still need clear boundaries and expectations. Lots of laughing around them. They’ll notice.”

Audrey  (mother of two young adult children):

“On my father’s side of the family, every other person is a lifelong alcoholic. I was honest early on with my children about the importance of taking care of their bodies. I started out talking about eating the right food and as they asked more questions, introduced the ideas of not smoking and not drinking alcohol. As they got older, I explained that those who wait to try alcohol until they are 21 or older typically have fewer problems with alcohol. Many parents are glad when their teen is popular and included in lots of parties. Not me. I was thrilled to have homebodies who avoided drinking. They’re both in their mid-twenties, and as far as I can tell they’ve both avoided the family curse.”

Gregg (father of three young adult sons):  “Remember: they raise you, too.”

Thanks to all of you!  If any one else has a comment, let me know. I’d love to add to this list of wisdom.