The mere fact that you’re reading a post on how to parent teens who are struggling tells me you’re a great parent.
We all know that the teenage years can be challenging for both teenagers and for us parents.
As Dr. Jess Shatkin shared in his book “Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe,” we, as parents, worry about:
- Unprotected sex
- Peer pressure
In our extensive interview with Dr. Jess Shatkin, he also shared that teenage problems with parents is very common because not only is the body changing, but the prefrontal cortex (CEO part of our brain) is still developing and, thus, teens struggle with:
- Paying attention
- Problem solving
- Regulating emotions (this is a big one)
Does this sound like your teenager?
It’s scary because, as parents, we wonder whether we’re doing everything we should and sorry our teens are struggling inside with all these changes.
So what can we do, as parents?
Advice on Parenting Teens Who Struggle
The best advice we hear repeatedly from every Doctor and Child Psychologist we interview on parenting teens is to be present in their life.
Try to avoid being a “BIRG Parent.”
We all know a BIRG Parent (basking in reflective glory).
Heck, at times we all probably are this type of parent.
“My child’s an honor roll student” or “we’re on the All-Star team.”
Our children accomplish phenomenal things and we are so proud of them… and we like to express that to others. And there’s nothing wrong with being proud of our kids, but the problem is that if our kids only hear us talking about their accomplishments, they may feel they can’t come to us when they’re struggling.
Which is why the conversation starter cards question below is SO POWERFUL to ask your Teenager:
Here are some great ‘Parenting Teen’ Questions:
- Are you ever afraid of my reaction when you talk with me?
- Do you ever feel like I interrupt you?
- Am I distracted when we’re talking, making you doubt whether I’m really listening to what you’re saying?
- Do I jump right into trying to fix it rather than just letting you vent?
- Do you ever feel like I’m going to judge you?
- What could I do differently?
- What do you need from me?
Reassure your teen or tween that you want them to be honest. That you won’t get mad. That you just want to be the best possible parent for them.
Our children want to be heard and want to know they can come to speak with us openly, but are afraid at times.
Mark Gregston shared recently on his Parenting Today’s Teens podcast a sad topic about teen suicide.
Mark’s worked with tens of thousands of kids and has said that many who’ve attempted suicide shared they just felt they weren’t heard or couldn’t speak to their parents.
Sadly, many parents also didn’t see it coming because they were caught up in “BIRG PARENTING SYNDROME” and unintentionally created an emotional barrier where their children didn’t open up and share the struggles or anxiety they were masking.
Conclusion: How to Parent Teens During Uncertainty
We need to stay engaged with our teens as much as possible, even at times when it may seem so challenging.
There are a ton of teenage parenting articles, but really, the best parenting teen advice is to just be present and listen.
Our teenagers are struggling to be heard, specifically without judgement.
We might automatically go into advice mode (natural parenting instinct) but sometimes our Teenagers don’t want advice.
They just want to safely talk to someone they trust. You, the parent.
Try some of the questions above and really let your teen know he or she can talk with you openly about what’s not going well in his or her life.
We all have those times, but if our children only feel we want to hear the good, they’ll have no one to talk with about the bad.
Are you ready to have this conversation with your Teenager?
Jump over into our parenting only Facebook group and let us know how it goes or offer some advice to another parent who might be in need of some teen parenting advice from others like us in the trenches.