What Your Teen Wants You to Understand

Next time you’re feeling frustrated with your teenager’s attitude, resist the urge to judge or lecture. Instead, consider these four things that your teen needs you to understand. Mighty Mommy has the key to forging a successful relationship with your teenage child. 

Cheryl Butler
Episode #523
Mother and daughter talking.


Let Me Make Mistakes

This one may come as a big surprise, but guess what—the majority of our adolescent cherubs want to be able to make mistakes. Depending on your parenting style, this may be difficult.

You've probably heard a lot about various parenting styles available to parents today. There is Helicopter Parenting, which means hovering over your child, watching every move they make so as to protect them and keep them from harm’s way. There's its opposite, Free Range Parenting, which means giving children greater independence and less parental oversight. And of course there's Tiger Mom Parenting inspired by the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. This is also known as Tough Love Parenting, and entails setting the achievement bar super high so children not only respond to the challenge, but also thrive.

The challenge for many teens is that their parents spend most of their schoolage years protecting them and not allowing them to screw up. But once they do, they’re either told it wasn’t their fault and that they shouldn’t worry about it, or they get severely criticized for their mistake.

The panel of speakers was unanimous in their recommendation for parents to let their kids gain valuable life lessons by making mistakes. The key, however, is not to criticize your teen for making poor decisions but to help him learn from them.

So when you overhear your daughter telling her friends that she can copy her assignment from another student and submit it as her own (and the teacher won't notice), hold your tongue. And when your son insists he can wash reds and whites together, in hot water, resist the urge to correct him (bonus points if he's buying some of his own clothes now).

When the consequences of these decisions come back to haunt them, don't say "I told you so." Remain calm and remind them that the smartest people are not those who never make a mistake, but those who use mistakes to make better choices the next time around. 

See Also: 5 Royal Parenting Lessons

When the consequences of bad decisions come back to haunt them, don't say "I told you so."

Listen to Me, Don’t Lecture Me

I recently experienced a lousy situation at work. I tried to be helpful to a colleague who was having a bad day and my well-intentioned efforts were misunderstood resulting in the person letting go of quite a bit of steam—and I was the convenient target. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity while he lectured me. It was hard enough to be criticized for something I thought was a caring act, but he droned on for so long, that I finally tuned him out. The rest of my day was ruined and I secretly hoped I wouldn’t have to deal with him for at least a year!

I hated how I felt when I was spoken down to, so I know what my teens feel like when they’re on the receiving end of a pedantic lecture. 

If you're the parent of a teen, you've likely seen them roll their eyes and say something like "Ugh, I know!" or "Whatever" when you try to offer advice. To avoid this scenario, next time your child tries to tell you something, stay quiet. You may have the urge to chime in the minute your child starts to let loose, but sometimes kids learn most from the opportunity to hear themselves talk and come to their own conclusions.  Resist the urge to lecture and simply make small comments like “Yes,” “I see,” or “Really.” This shows your child that you’re tuned in but not judging.

Tell Me You Love Me

Remember when your teen was a precious newborn? Everything about them was so unique, so fresh, so new. You had such grandiose plans for the future and you promised to love them unconditionally no matter what.

Regardless of whether you’re facing a difficult time with your teen or not, when was the last time you reminded your teen of you love?

In 5 Secrets to Love Your Child Unconditionally, parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham says, “Unconditional love isn't just what we feel. It's what the object of our love feels: love without strings attached. That means our child doesn't have to be, or do, anything in particular to earn our love. We love her exactly as she is.”

Your teenager may never admit it but she yearns to hear her parents say “I love you” which in turn lets her know she is a valued and meaningful part of your life.

See Also: 15 Ways to Show Your Family You Love Them

How do you stay connected with your teen? Please share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.

Are you listening to the Mighty Mommy podcast? Let me know what you're loving or what you want me to cover. Leave me a voicemail at 401-284-7575. Your message could be featured in a future podcast!

Mother and daughter image courtesy of Shuttersock.


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!

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