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How do you think your parents handled your teen years?

(119 Posts)
Eliza72 Tue 30-Jun-20 16:31:18

There was such a good post on here a while back about how your parents made your childhood. I've bookmarked it as it was so interesting, lots of tips!
However teenage years seem to be a different beast entirely. I thought it would be interesting to ask for reflections of how you thought your parents handled your teen years.
For me I now realise why there were quite so many arguments in our house when I was a teenager (mine are 12 and 14 and could argue in an empty room lol!!) But I'm learning to bite my tongue and let some things just be😁 I want to be a good mum to my teens, it's very hard and we are only at the beginning of our journey.

OP’s posts: |
Aventurine Tue 30-Jun-20 16:35:17

Having teenagers has emphasised to me how poorly my mum handled things and doing things differently has worked quite well. So no hitting, bullying, constant criticism etc. It's made me less close to my parents as i think my dad should have protected me better

Nellydean21 Tue 30-Jun-20 16:38:35

I was given lots if freedom. Had a boyfriend, a great social life, sort of left to it. Did really well at school too. No major problems aprt from the usual teenage angst. Different times though, none of my friends saw their parents as friends, we relied completely on each other and told our parents little. It worked as that was the way if parenting then, I do observe though these days that teens are friends with parents so it's different.

Loved my teenage years and being left alone.

MilkshakeandFries Tue 30-Jun-20 16:38:47

It's really hard to gauge isn't it. DM was very passive aggressive towards me. She told me once that she didn't understand why I needed friends and has been very cynical and critical of anyone that has been close to me throughout my life - which I think is partly from being jealous that she wasn't my be all and end all, but also from not having a friendship group herself.
Her whole world was me and DB and DF which i found suffocating and close minded.

Because of this I fully encourage DD to have friends, to engage in activities and be confident and independent in herself, as well as aiming high and having ambition - something I was never encouraged to do.

I also hug her still and tell her I lover her frequently which is not the kind of relationship that I have with DP, and has resulted in her confiding in me a lot more than I ever did with my own DM.

Nellydean21 Tue 30-Jun-20 16:41:24

I add, we all had jobs during the summer and weekends so some financial independence. I'm a teacher and from my observations with teens is that they need freedom, while being safe of course.

allfalldown47 Tue 30-Jun-20 16:42:03

Really badly!
They're wonderful parents though, they just couldn't handle my moody, rebellious, generally irritating teenage self grin

I learnt a lot from their mistakes, I'm generally a laid back but loving/caring mum to my 2 teens. They're good eggs and we generally tick along quite nicely so I must be doing ok?
Most tellingly, they both seem to like spending time with me, this couldn't be more different than my teenage years!!

ForestYeti Tue 30-Jun-20 16:44:02

I was left to get on with it myself from about 12, dad at pub every night and mum either at work or with her friends. No emotional support from them at all plus undiagnosed mental illness led to self harm and substance and alcohol abuse which carried on into adulthood. We have a great relationship now and they’re amazing grandparents to my children but I’ve had to do a hell of a lot of work emotionally to sort myself out

TerribleCustomerCervix Tue 30-Jun-20 16:47:36

Not very well.

Dad in particular found it very difficult to handle the transition from us being little kids to near-adults.

Instead of having a conversation, he would just give orders like a sergeant major and then would issue threats to ground us/stop our pocket money/ take away our access to the car etc when we didn’t do it. This was well into our 20s!

Dad still (I’m in my early 30s) goes on about how “difficult” we were, which is ridiculous as neither of us drank or did drugs, we had a reliable circle of friends and achieved ok at school.

They both constantly second guessed any decisions that we made, and still do now. It’s made both my sister and I generally pretty anxious people. Since we both moved out and met our husbands we’ve become much better at telling the parents to mind their own.

Funtcase95 Tue 30-Jun-20 16:51:00

My parents split when I was 12, dad moved in with OW (now very loved DSM) which caused a huge rift between us, mostly because I were a moody teen than anything else. I got on with my mum really well especially when my brother lived with my dad and it was just me & her. My DF had a baby when I were 14, again starting the teenage angst shite, but I quickly got over that and love her to bits. I was allowed to do whatever I wanted, within reason, no set 'home time' after about ages 15-16, could have a boyfriend (no staying over till 17), allowed to house parties etc. I was a good kid though, never got into any trouble or did drugs etc, just the usual teen stuff. I think my parents giving me the freedom I wanted meant I didn't revolt against them, as I had no reason. I hope to be similar with my DD (7.5mo) but who knows what kind of world we will live in when that time comes!

Eliza72 Tue 30-Jun-20 16:53:50

My parents were so strict, ridiculously so. It's made me so determined to give mine some freedom and independence. Although now I am mum, I can see why they had such tight reigns. I guess they were terrified that I would go off the rails.

Its a great learning curve thinking about your own teen years!! I'm reassured by how many stories end with "But we are really close now.." Makes me think that it is just a phase, albeit a very long one!

OP’s posts: |
KaTetof19 Tue 30-Jun-20 16:56:53

As a teenager I was encouraged to earn my own money, be responsible for all my own transport and help look after my siblings. The reality means I've been working since the age of 13 and would hop on a train to visit a friend 50 miles away because there were no restrictions.

No mobile phones either so once I left the house in the morning my parents would only be able to guess at where I was until I came home.

The bonus of this is that I've never been scared to go off by myself, I just plan and off I go whereas some of my friends still won't travel to a new place alone. Plus it gave me an excellent work ethic. If I wasn't learning or doing my hobby I was normally earning.

The drawback, the amount of times I was in a vulnerable situation (looking back) and just had to rely on my wits is quite scary. I was also given insight very quickly into how predatory men are (disgusting creeps trying to grope 13 year old girls just because they're waitressing!).

As mother to a 13 year old I've since talked to my mother about why I had so much freedom. Her answer was simply "Because I knew you could cope with it and make the right choices".

Does that mean I'm a terrible mother to my teen because I don't trust that she could cope with independent travel, working, taking care of her sibling? Or just that times have changed so my parenting reflects the reality of the times we live in.

I have no idea, hopefully when my daughter is older we'll have a chat and she'll thank me for how I shaped her teenage years...or at least didn't ruin them!

iklboo Tue 30-Jun-20 17:01:33

Not so well. I was badly bullied but my mum just started regaling her oft-told tale of how she stood up to her bully and they became best friends) not actually true as verified by my auntie who was there) and dad was just 'well, hit her then'

GinDrinker00 Tue 30-Jun-20 17:03:59

Not well, not well at all.
My parents were partly to blame why I went off the rails for many years.

SarahAndQuack Tue 30-Jun-20 17:04:37

Exceptionally badly, in ways I won't go into now, but which include abuse.

But in terms of the more run-of-the-mill stuff, I don't think my parents had any understanding that socialisation may be important to toddlers, but it's also important to teens. My mum dutifully dragged us all to playgroup when we were tiny, but as teenagers, we lived a considerable distance from our schools, off the bus route. I do remember having friends over on occasion, but the vast majority of the time if I socialised outside school, it was because friends' parents hosted me or did the driving. Looking back it must have caused resentment and I can remember some quite pointed comments from parents of my friends who obviously assumed I had no manners.

If you'd asked me straight out, aged 14 or 16, 'do you feel lonely?' I'd have denied it and said I enjoyed being alone, because by that point I was scared of people. I needed someone to be saying 'hey, you should go meet up with x, why don't I drive you both into town and you can mooch around the shops'. Or at least to be noticing and worrying that I rarely socialised.

ThreeCubesBalancing Tue 30-Jun-20 17:14:34

I think mine were great. I was a pretty easy teen though - , I had lots of friends, hobbies and interests but didn't take drugs, have sex or do anything risky, or even show any signs of wanting to. I guess that could have made them a bit anxious the other way, but apart from a few questions about whether I had met any nice boys, they didn't push it. And as an older teen they were fine with giving me my independence with very little angst - travelling on my own to other countries, going to festivals, letting me use their car to go clubbing etc - but were there for me when things went wrong - lost tickets, money problems on another continent etc. If anything, they probably did too much for me, I didn't really know much about how to cook, I couldn't tell the difference between a washer and a dryer when I was at university - I am trying to emulate them generally but get my kids to pitch in more than we did.

Craftycorvid Tue 30-Jun-20 17:24:09

Mine would tend to look blank and state that ‘there was no such thing as teenagers in our day’ as if that settled it. I was hardly a rebel by anyone’s standards but I was very unhappy and isolated. Mum and dad didn’t socialise themselves and didn’t see there was a problem with their teenage daughter being on her own/hanging out with them all the time. It wasn’t neglect out of lack of care but it was emotionally neglectful of me as a developing person. Years later my mum would say ‘at least you were no trouble as a teenager’ - to which I never got around to replying ‘that’s because I never got chance’ grin

DDIJ Tue 30-Jun-20 17:31:55

My father gave me endless freedom and trusted me. I never took drugs, I never smoked, I never shoplifted. My mother snooped and checked up on my every move and tried to curtail my freedom. She could never accept that I wasn't committing crimes all the time. She was obsessed with what I was wearing. It was a bit mixed up.

She is now repeating the whole process with my daughter, from accusing her of fire raising to choosing her clothes.

Danetobe Tue 30-Jun-20 17:34:05

My parents ignored me for my teen years starting from around13. I didn’t mind and still don’t. I looked after myself - own shopping (they left money in the house for this- which was something I suppose) own washing, cooking etc. I made mistakes but nothing major, and nothing as big as lots of my friends who had highly involved parents No drugs/giving up on school for eg. I don’t remember talking to them much, no resentment it’s more like we were room mates not family. I hope to be an ‘interested onlooker’ into my children’s teen life when the time comes and be available to them if tough times occur. Not too close or far.

Macncheeseballs Tue 30-Jun-20 17:38:47

I was given alot of freedom and didnt go off the rails, loved it

EineReiseDurchDieZeit Tue 30-Jun-20 17:40:39


Hedgehogblues Tue 30-Jun-20 17:46:13

They were abusive dicks all the way through it

Matilda15 Tue 30-Jun-20 17:47:57

I don’t think my mum and step dad handled it well at all. My step dad was incredibly strict and they wouldn’t take me anywhere after 6pm at night. We lived in a remote village that didn’t even have a bus service and they had chosen to send me to school 20 miles away so all my friends were a distance away. I used to walk miles in the dark home from my waitressing job late at night and was frequently told when I went out with friends that if I wasn’t back by X time not to bother at all. So I didn’t. When I think of the situations I put myself in I shudder now and the upshot was come aged 16 I used to go home with a friend on the Friday and not return home until Sunday evening! I left home at 17.

10 years later it was my brothers turn to be a teenager and mum and step dad had split up and he had all the freedom in the world and still gets chauffeured about at 22 if he wants to go out drinking and therefore had been seen as a much “better” teenager than I was.

My mum goes on all the time about how horrendous I was and although she tells everyone we are so close now the reality is we really aren’t.

How I am trying to do things differently (DS only 9) is always work with him to fix an issue or disagreement and talk things through without judgement. I didn’t tell my mum anything. I still don’t! I also want him to know he could call me at 4am from Outer Mongolia and I will go and get him.

Flipfloptanlines Tue 30-Jun-20 17:48:06

It's so easy to criticise our parents, who quite honestly most were doing their absolute best in their circumstances.

I love the Philip Larkin Poem....

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

thepeopleversuswork Tue 30-Jun-20 17:49:30

KaTetof19 your post is really interesting -- I've thought a lot about the freedom vs boundaries discussion for teenagers and still don't really know which side of the fence I'm on so I'd be curious to hear from others.

I had a lot of freedom -- very few restrictions on my movements etc from the age of about 14 onwards, and beyond pushing me educationally I never felt that my parents were particularly interested in me: they wanted me to do well at school but never particularly got involved in my emotional development or wellbeing and I always felt quite lonely. For example I could never talk to my mum about sex, relationships or emotions -- couldn't tell her when I started my period etc. When my first major relationship failed at age 19 none of my parents made any comment on it whatsoever and I felt very alone.

I didn't go particularly badly off the rails -- I completed school, went to a good university and have done well in my career but I had quite a rocky few teenage years.

My first marriage was a disaster and I have always felt that if my parents were more invested in, and more open to talk about emotional matters I might have had more smarts about me on this front.

I've always somehow equated their liberal attitude to not caring about me much and not being bothered to supporting me -- sort of wish I'd had firmer boundaries. But a lot of my friends and peers have said they had far too many restrictions placed on them and envied me.

What do others think about this? I'm thinking about this in relation to my DD, who is 9, with half an eye on making sure I do this right.

Nellydean21 Tue 30-Jun-20 17:49:43

Interesting that most posters say independence with parents who didn't really interfere is a good thing to which I agree as it was my experience. In retrospect they would have known if it was off kilter, obviously drugs about the house or doing badly at school.

The vulnerable aspect is a learning curve I thing. Dont we all shudder remembering situations when young of what could have happened?

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