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How to parent a teenager for dummies - please share your top tips

(15 Posts)
ClairesTravellingCircus Mon 25-Mar-13 13:05:30

Well strictly speaking, dd1 is not a teenager yet, as she is 12, but she IS behaving exactly like one, and I am at a total loss as to what to do with her.

Areas of particular interest would be:

Technology and its use, ipads, phones: do you regulate how much/when? What rules do you adopt in your house?

Siblings: she can be totally horrid to her sister (8 1/2), whi in turn ca be a bit of a drama queen, I really do not know how to help them get on better.

Family time: she's got into a habit of going to her room as soon as she gets home supposedly to do her homework. I know she also chats with her friends of course. Nothing wrong with that, but we only ever see her at mealtimes, do people just let their teenagers do what they want or do you expect them to spend some time with the rest of the family too?

I had quite a strict upbringing and I still remember the resentment I felt towards my aprents, at the same time I do not want to be dd1's best friend, as I think that's wrong too. Dh is extremely laissez-faire as that's how his parents were with him.

in a nusthell, what areas do you leave them complete freedom in, where do you regulate more?

thanks so much!

secretscwirrels Mon 25-Mar-13 13:28:46

what areas do you leave them complete freedom in, where do you regulate more?
Give the freedom gradually, not necessarily when they first ask for it but when you decide. Once given it's very, very difficult to go back. This applies to mobile phones, facebook, games consoles, staying up all night or in bed all day, going out with friends, parties, alcohol, etc.
Bet you wish you'd never asked.

I have a 15 and 17 year old. Just to answer a few of the things you mention. They always sit at the table with us for a meal at night and we do have lots of family time but they are also glued to phones and computers for much of the time. DS2 is currently a room troll but DS1 has come out the other side.
Don't sweat the small stuff is an oft repeated phrase on here but true. Unless it really matters I try to ignore kevin behaviour.

lljkk Mon 25-Mar-13 13:36:43

Lessons learnt yesterday:

1) Never try to give them Tips in flirting.

2) Avoid smirking when you embarrass them; their irritation will instantly rise to fury.

In reply to what you said:
Supper all together, I don't worry about other meals.
Siblings: well, as long as they don't draw blood...
Technology: too much to cover quickly. Lots of little measures & limits. Several layers of restrictions to keep their eyes off of porn.

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 25-Mar-13 13:49:34

Pick your fights, does it really matter if she wants to wear black all the time, or not be your BFF?
If you make a rule, then apply it equally to everyone, and give advance notice rather than suddenly blindsiding her.
Be consistent, even if you get really pissed off, remember who's the adult.
Really listen when she's complaining about something, either she's got a point or it gives you more information to refute the argument.
Mine are 18 and 22.

TeenAndTween Mon 25-Mar-13 15:01:20

Well, we are quite old-fashioned / strict.

I expect my Y9 DD to spend a reasonable amount of time in 'family' space. e.g. we prefer it if reading is done in living room rather than bedroom. I am not conviced it is a good idea to let teens become too insular. On the other hand we do have strict bedtimes so she can have time on her own then (without electronics).

'playing'/texting on phone counts as screen time so broadly speaking is a) limited and b) to be done downstairs. Laptop in bedroom is for hw only, and has parental controls that block facebook etc. This is permitted downstairs only under supervision.

My 2 don't agrgue much at all. If they do I move them into separate rooms and/or giv them a job to do.

We balance this with willingness to have friends over / drive DD places if needed, support her going to clubs, interesting trips out at weekends.

Ragwort Mon 25-Mar-13 15:07:12

We always have meals together, if either DH or I are going out to eat later we would still sit at the table with DS and try not to nibble and have a coffee.

We are porbably a bit insular in that we often all sit in different rooms if we all at home in the evenings blush - none of seem to share the same taste in TV for example and I find it hard to even sit and read in the same room if there is somehing I can't stand on the TV. We don't have lap-tops either so we all have to 'take turns' at usuing the family computer which is in a spare bedroom study. DS isn't allowed electronic stuff in his bedroom but he does have another room which only he uses for Playstation stuff. Bedtime is strict in the week, a bit more relaxed in the evening.

Good point about clubs and offering support - DS goes to a lot of activities and clubs and we tend to be involved as volunteers in all of them (worse luck grin).

BackforGood Mon 25-Mar-13 23:37:52

My teens (16 and 14 and 1 11yr old who is practising--) spend all the time they are in the house in their bedrooms, apart from when they are in the bathroom or mealtimes, which we all eat together --except breakfast.
I think that's fairly normal tbh. However, they are both fairly active across the week in that they are out and about doing things with real life friends or with Explorer Scouts or Church or whatever. Might be different if they never went out I suppose.
Giving in to technology has been gradual I suppose - but I think that's partially the development / affordability of technology rather than just us weakening. Mine don't have TV or X-Box in their rooms, but dd1 does watch a lot of iplayer etc through her laptop. Difficult to limit that much internet time, as a lot of their homework is on the laptop, and they research on there, and even connect to the school website for lot of the homework.
I have joined Facebook to enable me to keep an eye on what they are posting (neither were allowed on until they were 13)
Sibling fighting - I just consider that to be part of having a sibling. Indeed - it's got better in the last 9 months or so (between the elder 2).

think that's everything grin HTH

bubby64 Tue 26-Mar-13 13:38:09

I have 2 12yr old boys, and I have taken on board the "dont sweat the small stuff" mantra, and am trying, (with varying success) to encorage DH to do the same. The biggest thing we try to ignore is the 'secondary' behaviour, such as the slam of the door or pushing over a chair after they have been told off over something else, we try and tackle these later when things have calmed down.
Family time, We eat the evening meal together, and others at werkends. Other times the boys tend to be with DH more than me, as all 3 love the xbox, and play together, I tend to be in the other room with the TV or ipad.
Bed time, on school nights - all IT tech off by 8.30 bed 9pm, but recently, since they were given for the first time tvs in their rooms by their uncle, we allow them to watch tv until 9.30 if they wish. Weekends and holidays, we have now a policy of all tech, tvs etc off by 10, and then they decide their bedtime, this has made enforcing the schoolday routine easier, and I have noted they very rarely are up after 10.30.
Fighting- they have fought each other since they were inside me, so arnt going to stop nowgrin ! But, being twins, at other times they are thick as thieveswink
Again, we take them places and support clubs, especialky as DS2s behaviour has been very iffy lately, and he is definatly better behaved in these structured clubs and activities.
Saying all this, we still have complete temper explosions from them both, but especially from DS2, and our biggest problem is that he and DH, who has a lower tolerence level for language and answering back than me, clash terribly, and tbh, DS2 knows how to press his dads buttons, so i deal with him when he is a little git, but DS1s stubbornness gets to me, so DH deals with him, A process of divide and conquer.

ClairesTravellingCircus Wed 27-Mar-13 13:51:49

Thanks all,

I am reading but not time to reply at the moment: dealing with 14 month old twins who refuse to nap, or sleep!

Will be back


determinedma Mon 01-Apr-13 21:01:18

You will get a 101 different answers Op.agree don't sweat the small stuff. Keep the communication open at all times, parental controls on all laptops etc. Have a couple of absolutely fixed rules...ours was coming home on time for the dds. Not even one minute late, and always a phone call to let us know if there were problems. If they stuck to that, then we could be flexible about other things.

longingforsomesleep Fri 05-Apr-13 23:14:41

I once asked a friend of my sister how she'd managed to raise three such fantastic young men. "Keep em short of money" she said, without having to think about it. Now I've got three teenagers of my own I can see what she means.

tiredaftertwo Sat 06-Apr-13 14:04:57

Yes, lots of good ideas here, putting them together with a few more: don't sweat the small stuff. Keep em slightly short of money, time and electronic kit in bedroom. Be available to them if they want to do things with you. Try to find things you all/some of you enjoy doing together in and out of the house, and find time for them. Encourage any sort of sport or outdoor activity before they reach the bedroom troll stage. Be tough about being home on time/school stuff/limiting screen time/family time/anything else that really matters to you, but help hobbies/social life/activities, even if it means you having less social life in the short term. Tell them their safety and happiness is all that matters - they can call you if ever in a pickle. Listen hard if they say things need to change/all their friends do something differently - and apply dose of salt, compassion, common sense and adult perspective. Go on MN a lot. Buy lovely pens when it is time to revise. Don't believe (necessarily) what other people say abut their teenage rules and habits. Sounds easy put like that smile.

ClairesTravellingCircus Tue 09-Apr-13 19:59:35

lots of good stuff here, sorry to be late back, but with 14month old twins, and an 8 year old added to the mix, life's kind of hectic here!

Can I ask about technology, do you ask to have their passwords for email, phone etc? Do you put parental controls on their ipads/laptops? We've never had this problem before as our computer is in out living room, until now I have always been here when they have been on, but now she has an ipad, which is surgically attached to her hip, and of course I cannot be sure what she does on there all the time, even though I am as sure as I can be, it's normally, music, youtube, chats to her friends, all quite innocous (sp?), as she is still quite naive, but of course this can change without warning...

I guess what I am trying to say, is I don't want to give her the impression I do not trust her, until and if, she proves me wrong. I don't like to start with "mistrust" as default iyswim?

But then she recently asked to open a tmblr account, of which I knew nothing, so I said I'd check it before saying yes or no. When I saw what it was I just queried why she wanted to do a blog, and one that cannot be kept private from what I understood, she couldn't explain why so we kind of left it at that. Now I think I've seen emails from tmblr in her email inbox relating to 'her' account, but not sure... so how do I approach this? it is hardly the crime of the century, but she was supposed to have waited, then again I am not 100% sure of what I have seen, so can't confront her on this.

I do not want to push her into doing things behind my back..

I guess there is no magic formula is there? I just want to keep lines of communication open, I was very troubled as a teenager, and if her toddler years are anything to go by, I will need that desperately.

bubby taht is so true about "secondary behaviour" and one I have definitely been guilty of blush

I like this two tiredaftertwo

'Be available to them if they want to do things with you. Try to find things you all/some of you enjoy doing together in and out of the house, and find time for them. Encourage any sort of sport or outdoor activity before they reach the bedroom troll stage'

Thanks again all of you, it's given lots of food for thought. I am still most definitely NOT ready for this, and I am sure I will be back for more smile

Astelia Wed 10-Apr-13 07:37:56

My two are 14 and 17 and social networking is a big thing for them. FB, tumblr, skype, twitter, e-mail and texts are the norm here. It is a minefield but I am of the opinion that education and discussion is better than banning/restrictions for older teens if at all possible.

Our regime is: I reserve the right to see anything they have written or received if I have suspicions and I know their passwords. I am often reminding them that anything they write on the computer/phone can end up on the front of the newspaper or on their HT's desk, even years later. They must always take care.

Chain e-mails must be forwarded to me then forgotten about. Never forwarded on to anyone else. We don't have parental controls as I know from work how annoying filters can be.

Unlike some of the other posters we don't mind where they work/watch films, we don't restrict screen time and we don't keep them short of money. They know that in return for all they get they must work extremely hard at school and be sociable/pleasant at home.

Astelia Wed 10-Apr-13 07:41:50

IME teens will want to talk just as you are tired and want to go to bed, but this is when they need you to there for them.

Also I have found over the years that big issues can be discussed more easily in the car when there are just two of you and you can avoid eye contact.

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