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Parenting teens -vs- parenting younger children

(27 Posts)
Ellybellyboo Wed 03-Aug-16 13:22:18

Does anyone else feel that parenting a teen is a whole different kettle of fish from parenting 8 or 9 (and younger) year olds? And that people with a 6 year old who say "well, I'd never allow that" or similar have got a bit of a shock coming

I have a nearly 15 year old DD and amongst my friends and family (other than my 11 year old DD) she is the eldest by about 6 or 7 years.

DD is a pretty good kid, she hasn't given us any major issues so far, and when I see that some of her friends are over the park drinking and smoking, I think she's doing OK

However, some of my friends and family seem very disapproving of the things we allow her to do and all I ever hear is stuff like "well, I'd never let my DD do that" or "well, I'd just make them".

I'm not suggesting anything outrageous, just general stuff like wearing make up, wearing clothes that aren't particularly to my taste, mooching round town, etc. DD used to have piano lessons but last year she decided she wanted to give it up, we let her and I got criticisms about how I should have just made her do it

I just smile and nod, but actually it really pisses me off. We're all doing our best, but sometimes it comes across as them being superior.

SiL gave me a big lecture a couple of weeks ago about make up and vanity and how she's making sure her DD is not materialistic - her DD is 5. If her DD agrees with her at 15 then great, but equally, she might not

I'm not really sure how to explain what I mean really, I don't want to be patronising towards parents of younger children and be a know it all about it, but at the same time, I think that as they get older there's a lot of compromises to be made and "just make her do it" is not really an option any more

Ellybellyboo Wed 03-Aug-16 13:27:56

Just to say, I was mulling this over as I've had a friend on the phone earlier.

She called me to say she'd seen DD1 "hanging around town"

I replied that yes, I knew DD was in town to meet her friend.

Friend was a bit sniffy. She said she'd never let her DS hang around in town as you just don't know what they get up to - her DS is 8

dodobookends Wed 03-Aug-16 13:30:37

Sounds like you're doing fine to me - we've taken pretty much the same line. There comes a point when they become a person in their own right, with their own likes, dislikes and ways of doing things.

You have to give them room to breathe, and by mid-teens, you need to take a deep breath, cross all your fingers and hope that they have learned enough of your values to be able to cope with being set free.

All we did was to lay down some basic ground rules, and encourage dd to make wise choices, with the proviso that if her choices were unwise, then the responsibility was hers.

Timetogetup0630 Wed 03-Aug-16 14:20:47

Yes, teenagers, totally different creatures.
Ignore your thoughtless friends and relatives and make friends with some other Mums who have teenagers.
Good Luck !

dodobookends Wed 03-Aug-16 14:37:22

Yes, to be honest I wouldn't let an 8 year-old into town on their own either, but teenagers, fine. Mind you, maybe it does depend on their personality and what their friends are like too, but on the whole, they need to find their feet in the world, and they can't do that if they're not allowed any freedom.

If they start pushing against the boundaries, it is time to renegotiate where the boundaries should be and move them, bit by bit. They can't rebel if there's nothing to rebel against, and if you gradually give more and more leeway (with boundaries still in sight though!) you have a much happier dc. They feel secure and confident that you trust them to behave, and because of that, then generally they will live up to your expectations.

GetAHaircutCarl Wed 03-Aug-16 14:49:27

Teens are learning how to be adults.

Some days they almost seem like adults, other days they get it spectacularly wrong. But you have to let them try. And you have to start giving them their independence ( which means forming their own views, tastes etc as well as letting them hang out in town).

My teens are very easy. Never given me any real trouble or cause for concern. But I am vigilant about completely different things than when they were little and relaxed about virtually everything else.

Ellybellyboo Wed 03-Aug-16 14:55:40

No, I wouldn't let an 8 year old hang around town either, it was more her assertion that she'd never let her son hang around town "not that he'd want to anyway"

Like I was somehow lacking because a) DD wants to hang around town and b) I allow it.

We have ground rules and boundaries, but at the same time I pick my battles, somethings are open to negotiation, others aren't. She has her moments but so far, so good.

I just think it's very easy to be judgemental and "I'll never let my child do x/y/z" when that child is 5/6/7/etc.

MiL is actually the worst, she's been through the teenage years herself with DH, BiL and 2 SiLs so you think she'd know better

Sofabitch Wed 03-Aug-16 15:04:48

Until you have teenagers you truely have no idea.

I was a youth worker for 10 years and honestly thought I knew everything about teenagers.. turns out I had no clue.

They are rightly fiercely independent and you have to pick your battles wisely

Grausse Wed 03-Aug-16 17:19:40

It happens on MN a lot. Someone posts about a teenager and people pile in with advice suitable for parenting a 5 year old. Parents of teens chip in supportively and offer support based on actual experience.
My favourite are the housework / chores threads. Smug parents of toddlers boasting about how their DC just loves to help mummy dust wink

Stevefromstevenage Wed 03-Aug-16 17:25:58

To be honest Elly I don't think that is just to do with different ages I think it is also to do with different parenting. I was told pointedly bytwo parents in DDs class that they would not consider letting their children walk home alone from school. The age group is all around the 11-12 mark. They live reasonably near the school which is in a naice place. I think, that is fine you parent your child, I will parent mine. People just do things differently.

Toocold Wed 03-Aug-16 17:26:26

I don't have teenagers yet ( nearly) but my 11 year old is nearly as big as me ( I'm quite tall) and I can't see how I'd make her do something let alone a 15 year old! I was speaking to a dad with a younger child who said it's silly to hay sex ed at 10 as they are too young, had to point out to him some girls ( mine included) started their periods at 10 and before, it hadn't occurred to him.

itmustbemyage Wed 03-Aug-16 17:35:57

Just smile sweetly, you will get your reward when their little darlings become teenagers. If they are friends / family, who you are still going to be in contact with then, feel free to note down some of their more nonsense comments and say them back to them at their most challenging times with their teens. My DSis was a perfect example of this, she did have the good grace to laugh at her old comments when my niece reached her teens a few years after my kids.

WannaBe Wed 03-Aug-16 17:45:51

I think there's middle ground TBH. On the one hand there are the parents who say "well, my two year old loves tidying away his toys so of course he's going to be really compliant when he's a teenager," who just don't have a clue of the shock they're in for in a few years time.

But there are also the parents who decide that as they can't stop their teens doing anything, they will just allow everything, e.g. Better to have the boyfriend sleeping over because they'll just do it anyway. Better to provide the alcohol at parties because "at least you know what they're drinking." What they seem to then lose sight of is the fact that if you create a sense of false control the teens will find those boundaries elsewhere. Completely naive for instance to assume that if you send your fifteen year old to a party with a four-pack of alco pops they won't try someone else's vodka instead.

As parents we still need to set boundaries but be aware that those boundaries will be tested. Teenagers are growing into adults but that doesn't mean they have freedom of life just yet.

Ellybellyboo Wed 03-Aug-16 18:47:12

Oh yes, definitely a middle ground.

A few years ago we had neighbours with teenage sons who would play music at ear splitting volumes at all hours and whenever you went round to complain the parents would shrug their shoulders and say "just wait until yours are teenagers"

And yes, regarding the housework/chores.

DD's room is a pit. I can't be arsed to argue with her, my only rules are that all cups, plates, rubbish and dirty washing are brought downstairs and that she keeps the door shut. We had a BBQ last weekend and a friend went upstairs to use the loo. DD must have left her door open as friend came down and said "oh Elly, have you seen the state of DD's bedroom". I made a joke out of it and said no, I do my utmost to avoid going in there. Friend then tells me that she's instilled good habits in her DD and that she loves to tidy her room and they make such a fun a game of it, and the key is lots of storage. DD has lots of storage, it's just all bloody empty!

Carlamomof3 Thu 04-Aug-16 12:41:02

I think it's very easy for others to criticize when they haven't been in our position before. My parenting has changed alot since my oldest became a teen (she's 15 now) and I giver her alot more freedom now than I would've ever thought I would 5 years ago. But by allowing her freedoms, we've become very close and she tells me everything and we have an amazing relationship. Sure she still does stupid things sometimes but overall she's turning into a very responsible mature young woman.

WillIEverBeASizeTen Thu 04-Aug-16 18:30:22

"Well I'd just make them" I remember saying those words before I had children. If someone can tell me how I would very much appreciate thathmm

No teen no idea..sorry

WankersHacksandThieves Thu 04-Aug-16 22:38:16

It is different and tbh I am enjoying it more. I'm not saying I don't miss those big innocent eyes and the sticky hand thrust into yours and the warm smell of them as they drift of to sleep, but teens are great.

No, you can't make them do anything, but I am finding a more relaxed parenting style and discussion is working for far! DS1 is 16 and DS2 15 next week. I'm aware it may all go pear shaped and I could be on here crying about where it all went wrong next week! For now, they are fabulous.

Even DH tries stuff like saying to me to take them to get a haircut when he knows they don't want one and he can't make them....I'm not about to make a fool of myself with a 6 foot plus teenager over hair. I tell them how handsome they are and how I'd love to see more of their face but they aren't falling for it!

According to DSs former headmaster, you cannot praise teenagers (especially boys) enough. For all the grumps and groans and rebellion, they love being told how good they are and teens with brilliant self esteem are the holy grail.

jailbirdstar Sat 13-Aug-16 14:29:32

I could have written this post! I have a friend with 3 younger children (8 and 6 year old twins) and she thinks I'm mad for half the stuff I put up with. Apparently she used to cycle miles to see her friends, her father would never have driven her. Well, for one, my father DID use to drive me everywhere (I lived in South Africa, no real public transport, not exactly safe to walk/cycle most places and everywhere is too far to walk/cycle in reality) and my daughter's friends live miles away too, as she attends a grammar school which is a 40 minute journey door to door by car...

I get very frustrated with my daughter (16) and really want to talk to someone about her, but most of my friends' children are much younger and they simply tell me "just don't do it", or "just say no". So much easier said than done and I feel sooooo alone. My own mother(s) (step and biological) are both dead so can't even talk to them who have lived through me, my dad drank his way through my childhood so he's no help now. It's so frustrating and I will honestly be laughing (quietly) on the other side of my face when their children reach puberty and put them through the same frustrations that I am going through. I will do my best to not say "Just say no" or "don't do it"

akkakk Sat 13-Aug-16 14:42:57

it sounds as though your friends who have younger children simply have no experience yet... you could

- smile and raise an eyebrow
- tell them they really have no idea and good luck for the future
- lend them your teenager for a while (who will of course be perfect for them and thus prove them right!)

in the meantime, you have to humour them slightly, and remind them that you are building adults and therefore they might need a slightly different approach to a toddler or pre-teen!

MaureenMLove Sat 13-Aug-16 14:58:00

I think I would just smile sweetly and remind yourself often, than when all your friends kids are teenagers in 6 or 7 years time, you will be sitting pretty having got through it already!

Parenting teenagers isn't harder, it's just different with a different things to deal with. Parenting is a constantly changing learning curve, but it evolves at your pace, no one else's.

SanityClause Sat 13-Aug-16 15:03:57

You get a lot of this on MN, I find.

Someone posts about their teen, and you get loads of "confiscate their phone" responses.

I find that kind of strong arm tactic really doesn't work. Also, I'm quite uncomfortable with the concept that they might feel I am trying to control them. All that sort of "not under my roof" stuff? Surely it's better to teach them about what is right, and be there for them when they mess up?

There are some parents on here of really troubled teens, and they all tend to say that a tough attitude doesn't really work. So, while mine are lovely, and are not selling drugs online, or something (AFAIK!) I think that may well be good luck more than good management.

For example, my 17yo has a bedroom like Elly's DD, but my 15yo has a relatively tidy room. Neither has been deprived of my opinion that a tidy room is better.

So, I know it's not AIBU, but you're not!

MaureenMLove Sat 13-Aug-16 15:04:53

Oh and her bedroom sounds just like my DDs! And I'm also sorry to tell you, that it might not get any better! My DD is almost 21!grin

A tidy bedroom is not a fight I need to pick! I don't have to sleep in there. I don't do her washing or her ironing, so like you, as long as the door is shut, I really don't care! I usually suggest to her friends, that they might want to make sure their vaccinations are up to date before entering her room!

Mummydummy Tue 23-Aug-16 10:32:44

Teens are entirely different. Our job as parents is to enable them to become independent adults so that does entail giving them choice and respect, maintaining trust that they will make good choices and being there for them when they hit bumps in the road. Sure a firm line on things that matter. Enabling them to be more independent does not involve imposing our will on every detail of their lives. I love teenagers and have tried to learn to live with some of the downsides (yup waterfall chest of drawers, floor covered with clothes and revision notes, monosyllabic sarcasm...)

JustDanceAddict Tue 23-Aug-16 12:28:42

Pick your battles is what I say! I can rarely 'make' my DD (14) do anything - she is taller/broader than me and is very strong willed. I hope I've instilled the foundations of her being a good & decent person - yes, she irritating and annoying a lot of the time and needs a rocket up her arse to get out of her room/off the sofa but that's a general teen thing anyway. We haven't had any forays into drink/drugs yet and she is most def not interested in that side of things (we have talked as she knows some people who are). She knows some things are non-negotiable, but we do reach a compromise on others.

Oly5 Tue 23-Aug-16 13:11:22

I was hanging round town aged 14 and it was great! Sounds like you're doing fine OP

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