8 Truths About Parenting Teens
Your role as a parent, or caregiver, changes as a child grows into their teenage and later adult lives. Hormone changes, emotional challenges, and the desire for independence can complicate your relationship with your child, leaving you feeling frustrated.
To be clear, the reference to “parent” in this post does not necessarily mean biological relation to a child. We recognize and support all types of caregivers.
The summer months can be particularly challenging for parents of teens. Lack of structure can lead teenagers to hibernate in their rooms, shutting out the world around them. It can also lead them to seek more independence and make poor choices, causing tension in the home and relationships.
To help you navigate your relationship with your teen and keep the home environment as healthy as possible, CW Psychological Services has put together this list of truths about parenting teens. These are meant to be a guide as you tread these tricky waters with your child. Accepting these truths can help you to move forward more positively.
1.) Your Teen Needs To Be Their Own Person
All too often parents think they can change their children. They think if they parent in a certain way they can mold their child into the person they wish them to be. In truth, you can help your child to become the best version of themselves but they were born with a unique personality and need the freedom to explore that person. Work on accepting your child for who they are— their strengths and faults, all of them. By recognizing who they truly are at the core you can help them enhance their best qualities. Provide your teen with opportunities to explore their strengths and weaknesses. For example, if they are interested in problem-solving plan a trip to an escape room, or if they are artistic, sign them up for a drawing class.
2.) Your Relationship With Your Teen Will Never Be Equal
As a parent, you do so much for your child and you want them to see and appreciate it all. In truth, they won’t fully understand until they are a parent. The parent/child relationship is never 50/50. If you can get your child to pitch in and be helpful so that things are 90/10, you are lucky.
3.) Your Job as a Parent Changes Over Time
As painful as it can be to accept that things change, they do. The way your teen needs you will change as they grow. Each phase of parenting is replaced by another phase. This continues into adulthood. Your teen doesn’t need you for every, little thing like they did when they were babies and toddlers, but they still need your support and love. During the challenging summer months, you may encourage your child to get a job, volunteer, or do some sports or camps so they have some structure. You don’t need to hold their hand through everything but they need you to be a guide.
4.) Your Child Will Make Mistakes
Every parent wants to protect their child from making mistakes or doing things that could cause them harm. In truth, they will still do stupid things. It is not your fault when they do. It is part of growing up and learning. Teens will demonstrate a lack of judgment, as you likely did when you were a teen. These are valuable teaching moments and essential times for your child to learn about life.
5.) You May Not Always Like Your Child
You will always love your child, there is no doubt there, but you may not always like them, and that is OK. It is ok to feel frustrated and annoyed and not want to be around your teen all the time. Let’s be real, there are times when your child doesn’t like you very much either. These are normal, healthy feelings. Accept this reality and take breaks when you need them. The foundation of love is always there. Make sure your teen knows that you will always be available to them when they need you most.
6.) Parenting is Not a Competition
Stop comparing yourself to other parents. That is not healthy. It is not a competition. If you love your child, then you are doing the very best you can. You will parent your way and others will parent their way. That is all.
7.) Pick Your Battles
This is one of the top parenting lessons and it is crucial when you have a teen. There will always be conflict in your relationship but you have to choose what battles you will fight and what you will let slide. Only fight for the critically important things, otherwise, it will feel like you are always arguing.
8.) You Will Always Be the “Keeper”
It is so hard to watch your child grow apart from you. It is hard to let them go but it is part of life. Your job is to prepare them as best as possible to be the best version of themselves in adulthood. But, no matter what happens or what choices your child makes, you will remain the keeper of their childhood memories, their history, their struggles, their joy, and their dreams. You will always be their parent and hold that very special place.
Summer With Your Teen
Lack of structure, too much time, lack of physical activity, and removal of support systems teens have while in school can make summer more challenging. It is important for parents to be aware of symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health struggles, so they can provide the necessary support for their teen.
Planning activities to help maintain some structure and keep their minds occupied can also be helpful for your teen. Encourage them to follow their passions during the summer and focus on doing things that make them happy. For example, if your teen likes animals they may want to volunteer at a local animal shelter or if they play sports they may want to work with children teaching them skills. Teens who rely on the support of school counselors may also find it beneficial to meet regularly with a local therapist.
If you are struggling with parenting your teen or think your teen could use some additional support and guidance, the counselors and associate-level clinicians at CW Psychological Services in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania are available.
Ladia Adams, Associate Therapist, works with teens on anxiety, depression, self-confidence, and developing healthy coping tools, among other things.
Fred Bernard, Psychologist in Training, works with teens on anxiety, depression, mood, and personality disorders.
Jodi Desimone, Licensed Professional Counselor, is a trained school counselor who works with teens on trauma, stress, depression, anxiety, personality, eating disorders, and identity, among other things.
Acacia Masso, Associate Therapist, works with teens on coping mechanisms, anxiety, depression, identity, self-esteem, and other mental health concerns.
Dorothy Gail Monteith, Licensed Professional Counselor and Doctor of Education in Counselor Psychology, works with teens to overcome stressors and build self-esteem so they can live a joyful life.
Yasenta Newman, Post-Doctoral Psychology Resident, works with teens and young adults on managing mental health and substance misuse, as well as reaching goals.
Max Sheintoch, Associate Therapist, has experience working with teens on relationship struggles, school difficulties, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, gang violence, trauma, and self-harm, among other things.
Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania?
Counselors and associate-level clinicians at CW Psychological Services are professionally trained. We have openings for online or telehealth therapy appointments. Email us at [email protected] or call (610) 308-7575. We are here for you.