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I can't parent teens. Help.

(17 Posts)
foxdongle Tue 01-Apr-14 11:41:26

I think i've been a pretty ok mum so far done all the little kid and pre-teen stuff and loved most of it. enjoyed holidays, doing craft, bike rides blah blah.
my dcs are 12 and 14.
over the last year they have been cutting the apron strings. I know it's right and normal.

but I don't know how to parent them now. Dh feels the same. are we just useless?

I just feel like a constant nag and everything turns into an enormous battle. E.g. last night ds told me to "butt out" of helping him with his English (he struggles and has extra help at school). I was really annoyed so I said ,very childishly "ok I wont bother going to anymore parents evenings...etc" I'm not always poking my nose in as long as he's doing ok, but English is his weak subject. should I just let him get on with it? dd argues about everything and is constantly pushing the boundaries.

I used to work with difficult teenagers and loved it but when they're not yours it's so different.

I remember being left to my own devices around this age, after a lovely childhood and I pretty much hated it- I didn't want to be a teenager until I was about 16.

I really don't want to move on to the benign neglect stuff yet (dd12!) as in my childhood I wasn't helped with school stuff at this stage and only got 3 o levels and had no career help.
my dcs just want to hang out with mates then onto screens at home, but then the homework isn't done/ bag not packed. They used to be really helpful around the house-now massive whinging over laying the table or putting their socks away. I sound soft in this post and I'm not just sick of the constant battles.
What to do?

Any wise words of advice? Thanks in advance.

Nocomet Tue 01-Apr-14 11:56:15

I don't parent my teens any differently to how I parented them when they were 6 ie DD2 still gets sent to her room when she's not nice.

I guess I'm fairly relaxed, I've never restricted screens, I don't care if food goes to bedrooms, I only interfer with school work if asked (bar reminding DDs to do their HW), DH does mornings and he's a bit more hands on and will find lost books and phones.

I do moan about dirty washing not appearing and clean washing not going away, but otherwise I'm a fair slattern so I don't get very steamed up.

DDs are 16&13, DD1 can't see the point in teen antics and DD2 realises that living where there is no bus means you have to be nice to DM or your grounded.

yourlittlesecret Tue 01-Apr-14 12:13:49

Pick your battles but don't give up on the school work.
Agree with Nocomet in that I don't tolerate rudeness or attitude. I turn a blind eye to the pit of a room and laziness around the house because they don't matter in the great scheme of things.
At 12 and 14 I would still lay the law down on homework and being properly organised for school. I wouldn't expect to help unless asked and if I knew they were struggling in a subject I would offer.
If you want to limit screen time then do it. I limited it until they were about 15. Now they have proved they are quite responsible and I leave them to it.

How about a family meeting? Along the lines of "now you are both growing up we need to agree some rules and responsibilities." Homework time will be from, say 6pm to 7pm (or whatever) and outside that time you can you can go out / have screen time.

I know what you mean about your childhood, I was never given any help, I don't think my parents gave a single thought to my school work.

126sticks Tue 01-Apr-14 12:20:55

Agree with your. I also slackened somewhat on the jewellery/make up stuff.
Think about what you would like them to be like and have acheived at 18.

Some things are likely to come right. Eventually. All by themselves.
Such as tidier rooms, what they wear to a certain extent.

But other things such as schoolwork and attititude, drugs, drink still need to be worked on, else they can go seriously wrong.

And watch out for car accidents. Even as a passenger. That is often overlooked by parents of teenagers. And can have horrific consequences.

BertieBotts Tue 01-Apr-14 12:36:36

(Mostly hypothetical/observed - I don't have teens but I remember being one)

I think that you definitely need to switch away from a parent/child mindset in terms of "You do as I say, I'm the adult, the end" and a lot of reliance on carrot and stick methods if you parent like this currently because teenagers don't react so well to it. They're not interested so much in pleasing you and receiving generic praise but they do like to be told when they've done well in something even if they respond with a "Whatever".

They like responsibility, so hand over as much responsibility as you can but do it little by little and keep boundaries in place, e.g. saying that they can choose when to do their homework but it must be done/they can shower when they want but you will expect them not to be smelly, that kind of thing. Pull back freedom if they're not coping with it or abusing it and offer more when they're coping well with it.

Try reeeeeeeeally hard not to respond when you feel angry or hurt because they will not know when to stop. You have to be the adult and stop! Say something factual like "That was hurtful." and leave the room. You can speak to them about the issue later but responding angrily is not going to calm them down.

BertieBotts Tue 01-Apr-14 12:38:34

(And actually, it used to drive me FURIOUSLY MAD when my mum would say "I'm not going to have an argument with you" and leave the room but I now do the same with DS blush)

foxdongle Tue 01-Apr-14 13:36:05

Thanks for all your replies.
We aren't fussy re rooms/clothes/make-up.
and fairly relaxed about screens now but still boundaries otherwise they'd be on them until midnight!
Totally fine about them going out with friends - in fact we encourage it.
and to be fair dds homework/schoolwork is excellent.
I suppose with ds I don't want him to miss out on choosing a career rather than it choosing him IYSWIM. and despite my teen experience, I still ended up doing something I love.
definitely doing family meeting- your and I did offer with the English, so job done, I have to learn to just leave it at that.
126 I haven't really thought about what I want them to be like at 18 , (beyond alive and happy) that's really an interesting one . I might ask them in the meeting smile
Yes bertie I still do the carrot and stick, parent/child stuff , that will have to go! seems obvious now that those days are gone. and you are spot on, we are the last people on earth that they want to please at the moment.
basically then rules about schoolwork and rudeness - forget the rest

Nocomet Tue 01-Apr-14 23:38:28

I don't do carrot and stick much, but living here a very big stick is permanently present.

If you miss behave big time, DM won't drive you anywhere. Until your mates are 17 and have access to cars you are stuck. Unless you actually bother to ride your bike and it's tyres have probably rotted away.

Mostly I they are just good kids, they don't go in for causing trouble, DD1(16) BFF are private school girls kept on such a tight leash that, booze or boys, simply doesn't enter the equation. Not that DD1 doesn't like the odd glass of booze.

DD2(13) friends are a far wider and more normal bunch, they do have boyfriends, but not yet house parties and booze.

Coming from a small rural town with pubs and disco's that sold cider to anyone over 14, it all seems rather tame.

cory Wed 02-Apr-14 09:23:14

Lots of good things mentioned already. I would add: try not to extrapolate too much from what you felt you needed as a teen.

They are all different. The level of close involvement I have with dd over her studies would make ds feel totally stifled. I pretty well wanted to be treated as a grown-up from the age of 13 or thereabouts, it suited me and as far as I can recollect I never abused my parents' trust. My db needed a closer level of supervision.

What I find works very well is a general attitude of cheerful openness with, as Nocomet says, a big stick hidden somewhere.

beelights Wed 02-Apr-14 10:23:17

I remember reading a piece of advice that was very helpful at that stage with regard to things like homework help: you need to switch from being Manager to Supporter. You stop telling/showing and instead ask/advise what you can help with. Then you have to sit on your hands when you can see them not doing it the 'right' way and let them learn from experience.

As for the rest, I find it helps to try and see the best in them even when they are being horrible (16 DD DD twins) and remember that it is tough trying to grow up and separate. That doesn't mean a licence for soft parenting though - there are some hard and fast rules about being civil and safe.

ps - I hear a rumour that by about 17 you might start seeing some chinks of light....DD is certainly beginning to emerge from behind the screens and actually have conversations...

sicily1921 Wed 02-Apr-14 19:41:41

I have a 14 and 12 yr old and I thought for one min I was reading my own original post that I didn't remember writing!!

Nothing much to add to the words of wisdom on here already, zero tolerance of rudeness/disrespect but alongside that don't sweat the small stuff either or you could be battling 24/7 some days.

I also try to fathom how I should parent by thinking about the process of growing up and what sort of person you would hope for at the end of it -

- someone who is caring
- shows respect
- uses their talents and isn't a total lazy arse (not necessarily academic)
- shows some degree of independence
- able to make SOME decisions alone
- happy with life (hopefully)

Then work on the parenting with that in mind. Talk to them about the importance of school work, study and your expectations of them to put some effort in without turning it into a battle or nagathon. Keep it short and sweet and try to let them decide when they are doing it within reason ( for my DS 14 yr it usually gets to 4pm on a Sunday and I ask him has he done his homework, the answer is usually 'no' then I lay down the law!)

wow I made it sound easy here but the reality for me is that I find it all really hard work and I wonder day to day if I'm getting it right!!

'They' should give out parenting medals when our kids turn 18yr if you ask me.

Nocomet Wed 02-Apr-14 22:21:50

I guess it helps I'm a fairly laid back parent I've never managed HW or had screen time limits.

Neither DD, in their very different ways, likes being managed or taught how to do anything. The actually do listen and do take things in, but they don't like to be caught doing it.

DD2(13) is quite openly very stubborn and will never ever ever admit she's wrong. She appears very confident to the outside world, but actually needs lots of hugs and a bit of reassurance now and then.

DD1(16) gets on with the job, in her own indomitable manner. As a young child in a cloud of dyslexic fussing, now generally more calmly.

It's only if you know her well you realise there is a lot of deep thought and quite confidence beneath the slightly quirky exterior.

Both have always been like this from toddler-hood.

In fact they are much easier to parent as teens than as preteens.

DD1 fusses far less and has learnt some social skills, her teachers see how bright she is and her peers run out of reasons to tease her.

DD2 has transferred a lot of her need to be in control to learning gymnastics and grown to realise how annoying being very uncooperative can be for everyone else.

No doubt she'll want to go to parties or have an unsuitable BF and we'll have the stubborn version back, but at the moment she is being nice.

foxdongle Thu 03-Apr-14 10:22:43

Nocomet the way you have described your dd2 is exactly like my dd
she's very popular and confident, but has to be reassured and takes it badly when she and her friends have silly fall outs.
I've seen her get much tougher and not bothered this year which is a big relief.

sicily ds is not that academic, but not lazy, but there are loads of other careers , he has mentioned joining the police, plumbing or the travel industry-hands on jobs, he gets on really well with people and he has a good work ethic as he gets up for his paper round every morn.
see you at the medal ceremony in a few years ;)

cory yes my dcs are sooooo different, so must allow for that and not compare e.g. dd will spend hours perfecting hw, whilst ds will do as little as poss, but he tops the work ethic in other ways ^.

bee I like the advice about the manager/supporter ;

well we had a bit of a meeting (no phones allowed -as if smile )
and touch wood things seem better already and definitely more calm and less nagging. They were pleased at being allowed more general freedoms - ( with responsibilities) and we felt relieved to kind of let go a bit.

thanks all, really , really good advice

Freckletoes Thu 03-Apr-14 11:12:11

I feel the same! My DCs are 14, 12 and 10 and I could wish the eldest 2 away at times! Everything is a constant battle with my DS1. Currently our daily battle is about coming home from school-there is a bus for him to catch, however often myself or my neighbour are in later at 5pm so he has taken to just hanging around in town until one of us arrives. I have tried to give him some slack and let him stay occasionally but now he is just not catching the bus even when he has been told to come home because there is no one to collect him which means a special trip in for him! And of course he can't see what the problem is..... Anyway-I could list reams of battles I have with the teenager and tweenager but at least they are doing well at school (DD doing exceptionally well). The one thing I do try and do is make a point of thanking them for something they do right-for example if he does come home tonight on the bus as instructed I will acknowledge that. I do find that I am just counting down the next 4-6 years though as life seems so unpleasant at times! blush

foxdongle Thu 03-Apr-14 12:14:51

I agree freckletoes that's what was bothering me, sort of wishing them through this phase rather than enjoying it as much as poss.

like at the meeting I said I would still like to go out as a family at weekends , we did this loads and still do a lot but venues are changing e.g parks/walks-No!
but yes to meals, cinema, bowling, fish n chips somewhere nice and we have just booked the Sunday at Leeds festival smile

Trying to still have nice times before they totally doing all that stuff with mates , it's not far off.

sicily1921 Thu 03-Apr-14 19:42:20

Hi again, agree regarding careers, I was trying to make the point that I suppose all the studying for GCSEs seems to focus on the 'academic' when some children might not be that way inclined but will have other talents. I don't really care what job/career mine have as long as they are happy with it and they are not being bone idle all the time.

Medal ceremony 2017 and 2020 and I'll have one of those huge magnums of champers (make mine a gin and tonic) too wink

annielostit Fri 04-Apr-14 12:35:23

I'm so glad I found this question today.
My ds yr10 had his interim report yesterday and it wasn't good. For an A/B student he's running on empty with D's, so much so if he doesn't catch up in business studies he'll fail the year completely.
He thinks I'm being unreasonable by telling him he has 2 hours catch up everyday and was in tears he's got to resit his English lit exam.
Any more words of wisdom for a mother pulling her hair out at a too laid back teen.

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