Tuesday, October 8, 2019

four men sitting on platform
Photo by kat wilcox on Pexels.com

Are there teens in your life?  I have been thinking about writing this post for awhile because I am with teens close to 24/7!  Why am I qualified to write this?  I am not!  But, I have 17 year old twin boys and I have been a high school teacher for 26 years. 

I personally love teenagers!  I think they are fun, funny, sharp, caring, open-minded, but they are also scared, in a state of limbo, dealing with new responsibilities and emotions.  I would say that being a teen today may just be harder than ever before.  There is so much pressure on them to already know what they want to study, to get the highest test scores possible, to play all the sports and be in all the activities.  And, on top of that, think about the social media aspect of their lives.  So, before you deal with a teen, I think it’s important to think about these things and come to them with a little more understanding.  Now, do I always practice what I preach?  No.  I have my share of head butting with my kids and my students.  

First of all, as a parent, set boundaries.  They are not grown up yet and still need you.  I might argue that they need you more now than ever.  Set age requirements and parameters for social media usage.  The kids want boundaries and they like to be able to blame you the parents so they don’t look uncool.  

It’s too hard to do school and work a part time job for many kids. Their primary job is student right now.  Most of them say they have to work to pay for college, but my bet is that the $100 or so a week is not going to savings and the loss of sleep and time to work on school isn’t worth it.  If a teen can put that time towards getting those high grades, the scholarships will pay off far more than the part time job.  I am all for summer employment, though!  

One of the biggest issues I see with teens is lack of sleep.  The teen brain is not ready to go to sleep too early but school start times work against them.  The majority of my teens in class and my own kids can’t get more than 6 hours of sleep a night and we all know that isn’t enough at this age.  Also, I am amazed at how many kids are allowed to go to concerts or other late night events (sometimes even out of town!) on a school night and then they are allowed to sleep in or just miss the entire next day.  That is not an excused absence and the parents lie and say they were sick.  

Speaking on this topic, you are not your kids’ friend. They have plenty of friends(hopefully) but they only have two parents.  It sucks to say “no” and be the bad guy but you have to sometimes.  One of my sons was recently mad at me for not letting him go to a party that started at 9:30 when he had theatre and choral auditions early the next day.  Come on parents, why did the party need to start that late?  Because I said “no” he was upset and it spurred a long conversation.  The next time he asked to do something with that group it was a 9:00 p.m. movie on a Friday that didn’t get out until 11:30.  I was able to say “yes” to that.  

Listen more than you talk – Gosh this is so hard for me.  I have found that if I let my boys come to me and if I don’t throw 20 questions at them they will tell me more.  I think teens are like cats – do not approach; let them come to you.  Ha!  Just kidding, but many of the best conversations occur in the car when you don’t have to make eye contact,too.  Look for ways to be one on one with your teen.  Also, always start with a positive before a negative comment.  I do this in my parent teacher conferences, too.  Example:  “I really love ____’s enthusiasm, however he needs to save it for the pep rally.  In my class, I expect him to act like a civilized human.”  

Pick your battles.  Does that horrible shirt really matter that much?  Does it really matter that he wore that shirt two days ago?  Teens are figuring out their style and they have favorites and it’s probably not that big of a deal.  Say yes when you can say yes.

Let them email the teachers with questions and take care of their own business.  Let them call to make their own hair appointments.  In college, you aren’t allowed to contact professors anymore.  They need to learn how to do this when they are under your roof.  Do not rescue them every time they forget something at home.  They have to figure out how to deal with the consequences.  

Don’t create roadblocks for success.  I have already touched on this but I cannot tell you how hard it is to miss school at the high school level.  We have 7 classes a day and so that could mean 7 assignments.  If they miss 2 days, that becomes 14 assignments.  Help your kids to be at school on time almost every day.  Sometimes the school calendar isn’t convenient but I have had many students tell me that their parents are insisting they miss school and they don’t want to.  I have also had kids have to miss school to babysit for siblings.  

Understand the teen brain and their chemistry to some degree.  Teens are very implusive.  Sometimes they don’t know why they act the way they do.  Remember that they are not fully formed yet. 

Keep saying I love yous even when they don’t say it back.  I have one son who tells me he loves me multiple times a day.  The other finds it much harder.  I will often text the I love yous or the I am so proud of yous.  Remember that teen language is through texting.  I have heard one student talk about the funny gifs their parent sends them and how it makes them feel loved.  

Find things to praise and laugh with your teens.  They are really fun at this age.  They can watch the same movies now and get the more mature humor.  Look for stand up comedians on t.v. or take them to a comedy show.  They really love music at this age.  They are in a constant state of earbuds in ears.  Remember how much music helped you as a teen?  I wrote lyrics out on all of notebooks.  

Try to keep some shred of self esteem for yourself!  I almost think there should be workshops for parents of teens or maybe even support groups.  I really miss my sweet little boys and the simple days we had.  But, I love the men they are becoming.  I love my students, too, and cherish keeping in touch with them after they graduate.  

What have I forgotten? 


15 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip-Dealing with Teens

  1. Great post! For me that was check, check, check! I so agree – teenagers are great and you have to appreciate them, they do have a tough life!
    I think you included everything important; the only thing I can add as a girls’ mother is that unfortunately you have to warn them about bad people. They are so friendly and helpful at this age, but sadly you have to tell them that they don’t have to be nice towards people that they feel behave strangely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are more qualified than I am to write this from a parent stand point! Listening is the hardest for me, too. It is nice to see your relationship with your adult kids; I’m sure you had some rough years with them but now have a great relationship! Technology plays a huge role in everything. I always say I’m glad I didn’t have a smart phone until they were older!


  2. Omgosh I love this post! We are right at the beginning with two boys- 13 and 10 and this is all such great advice! I’m keeping this post in my inbox to read over at least weekly. Sometimes I really have to check myself and see if everything out of my mouth was instructional today or did I actually talk with my son. And I love the comment about them being cats! I find if I give some space, I get more interaction. I do love hanging out with them and try to create an atmosphere that is relaxing for them. Thank you! A highschool teacher and Mom to teens is a very valuable resource!


    1. Thank you Paige! I’m sure I forgot many things. I have been lucky because my boys have not been that challenging for me so far. They have mostly avoided social media. They have nice friends who don’t party.
      We have had so much fun since they turned teens, too. We watched The Office and Frazier and the comedian Demetri Martin. As hard as it is to have them grow up it’s also a fun stage to be in.
      Thanks for commenting and have a great day!


  3. This was a good read! Personally, I don’t deal well with teens. The drama and the constant talking… 🙂 We live next to a huge high school and just seeing the teens gives me anxiety. I’m so much more an elementary person.
    I love the 3rd, 4th grade age group so much because the kids just want to learn and they love everything.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, yes, and yes! I totally agree with all of these tips. I think the hardest thing for me so far has been choosing my battles and not sweating the small stuff, like clothing etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! I’m not one to want to shy away from battles but I think you have to sometimes. I long for the easy battles like what snacks to eat when they were little! Lol!


  5. My kids aren’t typical “teens” since with homeschooling we do have lots of free time for jobs, not much social media (at all!), they can set their own schedule as long as it’s reasonable, and they are much closer to use than any other friends… but with my middle son looking at going to a traditional high school I know much of this will come into play and we’ll have to make some pretty big adjustments. I’m not sure I’m ready for that but I sure can’t stand in his way!


    1. That is true. What a unique experience for all of you. I often wondered what it would be like. I hope your middle son does well with the transition. It will be a change for you but it might be a positive one. Let me know if you have any questions!


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