Parenting teenagers: any advice is welcome

First I have to brag on my kids a tiny bit. Despite being teenagers, they are good kids who make me proud. They both made straight As this last quarter, and they are involved in wholesome activities, like marching band, soccer, yearbook and dance. They’ve never done anything to break my trust, but some things make me wonder … so I ask a lot of questions. As a result, my son, 15, and my daughter, 13, recently told me I was too nosy. Is there such a thing as being too nosy when you’re a parent and your children are the object of your nosiness?

A few things that make me pause:

My son recently told me that a friend, a girl (but not girlfriend) has a nice sound system in her bedroom. Should I be suspicious?

My daughter informs me of her boyfriends though facebook. Should I be insisting that she tell me in person?

They are both voracious texters. How do other parents of teenagers feel about looking at their kids’ cell phone texts? I sneak a peek once in a while, but don’t do it openly. If I did, I imagine the nosy complaints would get much louder. AND, they’d be erasing the good stuff. So far, I haven’t found anything too shocking.

A few things that drive me nuts:

Housework. How much housework do other parents make their teenagers do on a daily basis? I find it interesting that they can remember anything related to their social life, but whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher is impossible to remember. I’m about to assign odd/even days for things, so that I can easily keep up. Anyone have any other good ideas on how to make teenagers remember household chores?

TV. Is anyone in favor of getting rid of the TV? Has anyone tried it? My husband is the biggest hindrance to this plan in our house, so it will never happen. But I remember when I was growing up, we didn’t have a TV for a while and it made me read. I might never be the reader I am, if it hadn’t been for that period of TV-lessness.

Clothes: Suddenly the consignment store clothes aren’t good enough.

Attitude. I officially know much less than they do. And I don’t dress well enough. And I’m weird about what foods they should be eating. And if I stray outside the rigid norm, I am an embarrassment.

A few things that hurt:

Volunteering at their schools is not encouraged anymore.

I’m a chauffeur now, rather than someone to do fun things with.

The dancing-around-the-house-for-fun is not something they do with me anymore.

The goodnight hugs aren’t as intense as they used to be.

But I understand … they’re growing up!

I SO appreciate the time I have left, especially when I think that:

Some 15-year-old boys signed up to fight in the Civil War.

Some 13-year-old girls were considered marriageable in eras past (perhaps in some cultures today, too).

As much as they annoy at times, I already know I’ll hate the empty nest.

But, from what I hear, there’s a good chance they’ll move back home eventually. Then I’ll be asking for advice on how to deal with adult children. LOL.

Lucy Balch

Love Trumps Logic

Available at Amazon and through Second Wind Publishing


Filed under writing

6 responses to “Parenting teenagers: any advice is welcome

  1. That whole text message thing, I believe, is worse for kids than watching TV because it removes face to face social contact, or even voice to voice. On the subject of being too nosy, what I heard a lot from students when I was teaching high school was that the kids didn’t complain about parents asking them stuff when the questions flowed from a natural conversation, it was the direct questions that they’d mutter about in deep outrage. Although this doesn’t apply in your case, it’s of interest to note that the parents who reported the most trouble were ones who only started to try to engage their kids after the kids got into trouble and an alarm bell went off. This change of parental behavior, instead of helping things, seemed to kick in their teenagers’ paranoia and the kids assumed that anything their mom or dad asked them, or said wasn’t because they cared all of a sudden, it was just part of an ongoing investigation, so I think even if you don’t get the kind of answers you want, you should keep asking, cause your effort sinks in and means something.

  2. Lucy

    That’s good advice about staying in touch for good times too, not just the bad ones.
    Texting doesn’t bother me as much as TV, as long as it’s largely used to make plans to get together and do REAL things. It seems to have given my kids a sense of closeness with their friends. They text so often that their friends are more like family now 😛

  3. christinehusom

    It’s funny how technology has changed things for parents in a few short years. My four children will all soon be in their thirties (hard to believe that!). When they were teenagers we didn’t have a computer or cell phones–it was a very different era 10-17 short years ago.

    And I agree with Mickey about losing some of the face to face contact. But to take it in the other direction, people seem to be too connected. Look at the dumb things people say in updates on Facebook. The other concern I have for kids walking around (or driving, and I see that a lot–scary!) texting is the the non-awareness to whatever is happening around them. They are walking down the street, or through a store, and oblivious to other people, or possible dangers. To me, it is an odd phenomenen. Surrounded by potential contact with real people, but lost in a “virtual conversation”.

    Your kids sounds like great kids and it seems to me like you have very little to worry about. Teenagers are a breed unto themselves. They are beginning the process of moving away from being children dependent on their parents to becoming adults. They will make mistakes, as we all did.

    It is frustrating as a parent not to be able to step in and take care of things as we did when our kids were young. Finding the balance between being informed and being snoopy is delicate. I think back to how easy it was having four teenagers, compared to having four adult children–if only I’d known. It’s all relative.

  4. Lucy

    Your comment about adult children scares me a bit, Christine 😛
    It’s true that kids lose out by keeping their eyes glued to the cell phone screen. I’ve often thought that, as valuable as music is, they’re also losing out by constantly having the ipods going. When’s the last time a teenager enjoyed birdsong or a quiet morning?

  5. christinehusom

    Yes, a walk through the woods with no electronics sounds like a nice idea!

  6. When Sesame Street first came on the air I wondered, Does it make a difference if a child learns things like shoe tying from a TV person instead of from a real person in their life? Some kids don’t have the choice, I guess, but that cold media instruction is now taken for granted. In the future,
    maybe we’ll lose our vocal cords and just text…

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