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Parenting Your Teen: Skills and Stategies

Updated on August 23, 2015
How to parent teens: Strategies
How to parent teens: Strategies | Source

Parenting teens can be the most challenging period of a parenting career. Unfortunately, little prepares us for the upheavals of this time. It is a tumultuous time, full of unknowns. Your child has embarked upon the process of differentiation, and that process can be challenging and frightening for the teen as well as for the parents involved.

Differentiation can be described as a developmental process in which one unit separates from another. During the process the teen separates from the parent and must learn to live in the world at large. Meanwhile, the parent must provide enough emotional space for the teen to do so while continuing to provide the care, nurturing, and support still needed. It is a difficult, confusing and sometimes painful process, but it must be undertaken by both sides.

So how do we let go enough to make the process safe? In my experience as a parent and as a therapist, the answer is, gradually. We must allow teens to make mistakes, to help them up when they fall, to help them learn from their mistakes and probably most importantly, to let them know that we love them: the person they are, and the person they are becoming.

When our children were very young, they would play on the floor near us, checking in with us periodically as they continued to explore the world further and further away, We provided them the love and support they needed then. We kept them from getting really hurt and always provided a safe place of return.

In some ways that is what we must do with our teens, except the world is bigger and the risks, greater. We still dry their tears, but in addition, we must speak to them about limits, about safety, about drugs and sex, about things that make us feel uncomfortable and afraid, both for them and for us. And yet those conversations are a necessity. They sow the seeds of trust so needed as the teen negotiates a sea of new experiences.

At the same time, the teen is learning that we are not perfect. We make mistakes, sometimes frequently. Teens sense this and they can be disillusioned and disappointed in us as parents. They can be angry and sullen when we impose limits. So, know your limits, own your mistakes, and apologize when you are wrong. Remember, all things pass. We want them to pass well.

So, here is my top ten list:

10. Allow teens to make mistakes. Use natural consequences. Let teens understand and experience some of the consequences of their actions. Don't be punitive or controlling. Instead, help them deal with the consequences of their actions.

9. Role model the behavior that you want to see in your teen. Model respect and you show your teen that respect is important. It may take time, but they will come to understand that. .

8. Keep talking to your teens. Try to know what they are feeling, thinking and doing, even if that information upsets you.

7. Know your teen's friends and parents.

6. Join a support group. It helps you feel like you are not alone in this time period.

5. Avoid power struggles with your teen. Power struggles lead to real problems and are rarely successful.

4. Help your teens develop a vision for themselves in the future, both in the long term and in the short term.

3. Avoid lecturing. They won't listen and you will feel frustrated. But do say what you feel you must.

2. Be a parent, not a friend. Set limits as to behavior and be clar about what you are willing and not willing to tolerate. Pick your battles.

1. Love your teen. Love your teen. Love your teen!




copyright/all rights reserved Audrey Howitt 2015

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    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 23 months ago from south Florida

      Being a parent and not a friend (a buddy) may be one of the most difficult things for parents of teenagers to understand. Too many parents want to act like their teenagers BFFs without realizing they may lose both respect and attention.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 23 months ago from California

      It is an important part of parenting this age--I agree--and is so difficult

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 23 months ago

      This is great wisdom for parents. It is difficult to raise a teen in today's world and the suggestions you list, such as a support group, avoiding power struggles, are so important. Above all, as you wrote, LOVE them through this season of life.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 23 months ago from California

      It can be hard to remember that we do love them during this time period--but so important that they feel loved regardless of their struggles--Thank you teaches!

    • bigj1969 profile image

      John Marshall 23 months ago from glasgow

      Fantastic hub,lots of good points.not so long ago I had four teenagers at once.trying times,but worth the effort when I see them now.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 23 months ago from California

      Hi bigi1969--I can relate. We had two--and I am close to both of them-

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 23 months ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      My kids are now in their 40s. My oldest son and I are in on a house, and I live with him and his wife, and my 17-yr-old granddaughter. HERE WE GO AGAIN!......'cause I've ended up the primary parent. She is a bright girl, drop-dead-Playboy-look-out gorgeous and lazy as molasses sliding down tree bark. She also loves to socialize and have friends over, bury herself in her phone, and drive my daughter-in-law's car. So I have her on a very reasonable contract. I got a lawyer friend to play along, took her to see him, he explained contract law to her and witnessed her signature. Sounds Draconian? No, it impressed her and she understands that if she loses her phone for an evening, or doesn't get the car or whatever.......SHE made that happen. We've talked it thru and she agrees that the consequences are fair. Now, I need to stick to the programme like shit to a blanket. I know if I falter, give in, succumb to tears etc. the whole plan is down the drain. and no anger, raised voices, nothing like that. the big test is Sept., when she starts Grade 12. Up here, if you want into University, you pretty well have to get straight

      As. Anything less, you have to start post-secondary in a Community College. Okay.....but only okay. She's perfectly capable of the straight As She just needed an offer she couldn't refuse.

      The net result of NOT making teens responsible for their own actions, or, as I prefer to put it, helping them understand that consequences are not imposed by some authority from the outside, but are an inevitable flow in a process THEY helped to draft. Simple. It works. It helps teens be proud and feel good about themselves. And it makes them better citizens. And at times they will hate your guts and wish you were dead.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 23 months ago from Dubai

      Parenting teens is tough, we never know how much is too much! Avoiding lecturing is the best thing to do because lectures simply do not help. Wish there was a guide book with tips and tricks that really work! Great hub, voted up.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton

      a great share Audrey, I understand this frustration raising teenagers.. that's when they want to become their own person.. and we do the best we can to allow them to grow into themselves... phew.. top ten is helpful bless you

    • the rawspirit profile image

      Robert Morgan 23 months ago from Hutchinson Island, FL - Myrtle Beach, SC - Scottsdale AZ

      Another great hub. I can only say I am glad that the last of our teens turned 20 two years ago. I am only kidding, or am I. Great subject.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 23 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Been there, done that, and I ain't doing it again. LOL Bev's last child is eighteen and moving for college in two weeks. Our teen raising will be officially completed. Great tips here and all right on.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 23 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Hi Audrey, That was all very excellent advise. That is what I heard from my pastor first and then from a therapist, when my girls were teens. Now I remember that with my granddaughters and that what I try to tell my daughter. It is a difficult process, but important. God bless you.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 23 months ago from london

      Interesting approach. It is so different for many, and again some kids seem as if they are born to listen and others ... well ...

      All salient points though. Thank you, Audrey.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 23 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      "Parenting teens can be the most challenging period of a parenting career." You are the master of understatement. My oldest is in her 40's, and I am not over her teen years.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 23 months ago from The Caribbean

      Great counsel, Audrey. "Love never fails." That deserves the number one spot. As for number eight, I've met many parents who say they're tired of talking or that the teens already know; keep talking is a great reminder.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 23 months ago from New York

      Raising a teen has never been easy and certainly today it is more difficult. I'm sure each generation has said that, but there is just so much more going on in the world.

      Love and giving them space is certainly the best way to accomplish a good relationship with your teen. Respect is another.

      My youngest is in his late thirties, but now I look at grandchilden from the age of two to twenty-three. Thankfully, my kids are doing a great job.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 23 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Raising a teen is difficult but fun too. You've listed some great tips. Listening to them is very important...

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 23 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent hub and very useful advice! I liked it when you listed the numbers backwards.

      I believe that parenting the Teens is the most difficult phase of parenting. It is then that we have to patient, set examples and be very careful.

      Thanks for sharing this helpful hub! Shared on HP!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

      Audrey, this is excellent, and I enjoyed the comments as well. Being a parent of a teen is challenging but can be fun too. It's such a roller coaster of emotions. I am sometimes surprised at how far some parents can go to try to control their teens' exposure to risks. They end up sheltering them so much that the teens push it all underground rather than openly discuss their lives.

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 23 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      I agree with everything you've mentioned, Ms. Audrey. I myself have an adolescent son whose father, sad to say, has passed away.

      (So, you can just imagine what a challenge parenting has been for me!)

      Even when my son was in his pre-teen years, I made sure to support his interests, and help hone his talents. I also check on his peers/friends.

      You're also right in saying that we must allow our teens to make mistakes so that they learn the hard way and mature from the experience. (I'd like to add that they should learn to accept defeats or failures.)

      This is one hub worth rereading. Thanks for sharing!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 22 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Al of this makes sense. Isn't this how we wanted to be treated when we were a teen?

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 22 months ago from California

      So true Clark--parenting teens makes me cry out of frustration and fear--the risks are great and seem to be greater than they were when I was young

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 22 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Hi AudreyHowitt!

      Came back to congratulate you for the well deserved Hubbie award. I feel happy and honoured to follow you.

      Thank you and have a great day!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 22 months ago from California

      Thank you ChitrangadaSharan!!

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      Catherine Tally 22 months ago from Los Angeles

      Great hub, Audrey! I think the breaking away happens on both sides! Even though we love our kids to pieces, they still know how to push all the right buttons- at least my daughter did!! I was ready to let her go away to school and learn to apply the things we'd taught her. She is 20 now and a delight to her dad and me. She has actually told us that she is glad we held our ground when she begged otherwise! In hindsight, I wish I hadn't lectured so much. I know she tuned me out. Wonderful advice which I will surely share.

      All the best,

      Cat:)

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 21 months ago from North Texas

      Sounds like good advice. I never had these issues everyone talks about afflicting teens, and my daughter never did either. I'm wondering what is causing it in mainstream society. I think perhaps the difference may be that me and my daughter are both loners and so we were not influenced by the ideas and actions of the people around us as much as people with more social natures.

      Sharing this article as those people with teen problems may find help here.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 20 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great advice here. Parenting is different in all cultures. You shared useful points.

    • CorneliaMladenova profile image

      Korneliya Yonkova 20 months ago from Cork, Ireland

      Very useful article Audrey, thank you so much. My main problem is that I am more friend for my kids and less parent. Now they think that they can twist me around their fingers :D

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 19 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      I love reading your hub, I have a teen, always open up my ears to her

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 18 months ago from California

      Thank you Ruby!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 18 months ago from California

      Thank you Frank!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 18 months ago from California

      Thank you for your kind words MsDora!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 17 months ago from California

      I wonder if we ever get over their teen years--it marks us as well--Thank you Mike!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 17 months ago from USA

      I'm returning because this is so excellent. Every parent should read it, again and again.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 17 months ago from sunny Florida

      Number 1 is key, Audrey, as you must know

      All of the other things fall into place if love is present.

      One thing that I found important is to have a climate of trust...my daughter knew that unconditionally no matter what she said to me, I would love and care for her. I just wanted to know the TRUTH and then we would go from there. It did not mean she was not chastised in some manner but it would gone far worse had she lied. Trusting each other is still our mantra today.

      Angels are on the way to you..so sorry to be so long in responding...a lot going on with my family at present. ps

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      I wish I would have known these tips when my sons were still teens. It might have helped, especially the part about avoiding power struggles. As parents, we make the mistake of thinking that our children are extensions of ourselves that we will always be able to control, just as we control the fingers on our own hands. When children reach their teens they develop their own wills and begin to assert their independence. It is a frustrating, eye opening experience for parents, and we truly do not know how to handle it. The good news is that if we have taught them solid values throughout their lives, these values are eventually reflected in their character, but it takes time. Great hub!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 11 months ago from California

      Thank you Rachel!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 11 months ago from California

      Thank you Flourish!

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      Audrey Howitt 11 months ago from California

      Thank you Vellur!

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      Audrey Howitt 11 months ago from California

      Thank you manatita!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 11 months ago from California

      Raising a teen isn't easy, but respect goes a long way! Thank you tillsonititan!

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      Audrey Howitt 11 months ago from California

      Hello Flourish! Thank you for your kind words!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 11 months ago from California

      Thank you peachpurple!

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      Audrey Howitt 11 months ago from California

      Oh no Cornelia--that is a difficult place to be!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 11 months ago from California

      This is how I wanted to be treated as a teen--but sadly, few teens are treated well. And teens can be difficult--thank you for your kind words Deb!

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      Audrey Howitt 11 months ago from California

      Thank you Cat! And congratulations to you on a job well done!

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      Audrey Howitt 10 months ago from California

      Thank you Patricia!!

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      Audrey Howitt 10 months ago from California

      Thank you Bill!

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      Audrey Howitt 10 months ago from California

      Thank you Chritrangada!

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      Audrey Howitt 10 months ago from California

      Thank you DDE!

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      Audrey Howitt 9 months ago from California

      Great comment --thank you Mel!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image
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      Audrey Howitt 7 months ago from California

      Thank you Charito!

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