The teen years, are tough for both parent and teen (Desiree Panlilio)


– Desiree Panlilio


Our Teens are in a state of rapid growth in their teen years. It is a great time to find out what your teen’s strengths are and to build on them and to even out any weaknesses. As a parent we want our teen to grow in independence, responsibility, and accountability. That is a lot of rapid growth in a short amount of time. As their parents, we are our teen’s biggest cheerleader, role model, and mentor. How we embrace each of these roles will help our teen to grow and believe in themselves. We will be nurturing their personal growth as they discover who they are and become comfortable with who they are.

As a parent we never want to ridicule, be judgemental or dismissive of what our teen is sharing or not sharing. With the fast pace of life sometimes we forget to stop and realize that the many things we take for granted our teen is just now learning or starting to understand. Every teen has something that they are struggling with and as a parent we can try to be helpful, to help them understand themselves or help them learn the skills they need to be successful.

How often has your teen forgotten to bring their books home, or that permission slip is crumpled in the bottom of their bag. I am so thankful that at a point the school emailed permission slips, but that is not always the case. This is all about organization. It is about helping them know what they should bring home and how to use their time. A way to do this is with a planner and with you as a parent modeling that behavior. One of my tricks was to have the Sunday evening meeting. Everyone shared what was going on in their life in the upcoming week. I put it all on the calendar that way we all had a visual memory of what was going on. It was also easier for me to teach organizational skills throughout the week. 

However, before you have the conversation with your teen pause and take into account a few truths about teens and our own delivery of communicating with our teen. For teens, pride and image are huge. It is not by chance that parents often say, “my teen knows everything” or “My teen won’t listen so why do I bother?” Your teen is listening but perhaps the delivery is what needs to be evaluated.

Encounters with our teens that are sporadic, judging and accusing do not end well. Our viewpoint that our teen won’t listen is reinforced. However, as a parent the behavior of your teen is up to you. If you are going to have a conversation with your teen on a subject area such as organization or taking out the trash, how long do you prepare for that one-on-one communication opportunity? A couple of minutes or less, you see the garbage was not taken out and in those few seconds you have already decided the pathway for the conversation.

What if you took a few minutes to plan what you were going to say, think about how your teen will react during this encounter? What could you say and your teen say in response? Consider both positive and negative responses and how you will respond to them. Then consider how you would respond to either of those situations. Going in hotheaded, frustrated, and disorganized to try and have a constructive conversation with your teen, you lose credibility and the conversation deteriorates into, “I told you so” “just do what I say”. In response your teen will respond with similar statements and the communication breaks down. But look at it from another position. You are role modeling communication strategies that your teen will use later in life. That is a moment for pause. To think about the conversation and how you would like it to develop and how to deal with negative responses in a positive manner. It is not easy. It is a learned skill. It is something we can all work on as we help our teens develop and grow.