I feel like it is almost premature to give you my tips because I’m not done with the teen years, yet. I literally just registered my teen for driver’s education and just… pray for me, y’all. Although I’m not finished and so much more is to come (I said ALMOST professional mom), I can give you some tips and a reading recommendation that have helped me so far:
- Communication. You have to find a good way to communicate with your teen. We talk on the way to activities, in the car, and neither of us feels pressure. It’s a “say anything” kind of zone. I make sure to check in frequently and keep tabs on things going on. When your child tells you something, you can ask, “Do you want tips or advice, or do you just want me to listen?” That is a huge help.
- Avoid drama. There is going to be SO MUCH DRAMA. I promise you. Your first instinct is to step in and help your child navigate or handle something, but you really need to step back. I listen to the drama and then I will ask, “What are you going to do?” and let them tell you. Almost all of the time they know what to do and they have a plan.
- Find your village of support. One of the best things I can tell you is to make friends with the parents of your child’s friends. I am a huge advocate of being active in the elementary school years. Join the PTA, volunteer in the classroom, offer to help at birthday parties, talk to other moms at activities, basically make some friends. Get to know people. The friends I made early on are sometimes teachers (who can explain things to you), counselors (help when problems arise), and parents who are down to host sleepovers and you know it’ll be ok, etc.
- Don’t die on every hill. You will hear me say, “This is not the hill I’m going to die on,” because it is all about picking your battles. I have terrible anxiety and OCD so I really do need things done correctly and when I want them done, but my kids are kids. The fact that they are showering regularly without my prompting is a big deal. Before yelling, or going into battle over something, ask yourself if it is really worth it. It circles back to communication. Instead of yelling, try saying, “Hey- I know you are busy in the morning but it is a huge help to me if you could feed the dog before you leave. You have no idea what a help that is to me when you do that.” When (if) you see them doing it, say “thank you.” You may only get an eye roll or a grunt in return, but I promise you they needed the words of affirmation.
The great thing about having a baby is that there are hundreds of books on every aspect of having and taking care of a baby. It seems like the older your kids get, the less and less resources there are to at least help you realize the issues you’re dealing with are normal. There aren’t teenager play groups, and I don’t know of any group where mom’s just get together and talk about motherhood in our area, and that can make you feel really isolated. The closest thing to an old fashioned coffee and coffee cake living room meet-up is Duluth Mom’s online Community + Conversation Facebook group. The group is a place to ask for tools and recommendations, and connect with moms in similar stages of life.
As the resident bookworm at Duluth Mom, I feel like I can’t leave you without a recommendation. The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans by Josh Shipp was really good. It’s broken down by ages, by specific issues, with tips on how to help them through issues/questions they might have. It was well written and just a good reference book that might be helpful.
Good luck, mama. If you have tips for ages 16-18, help me out, comment below! We’ll link part one here in case you missed it.