We all love a peek into other people’s parenting. It can be much harder to find relatable stories when you have teens, though. We get that teens aren’t always quite so overjoyed to see their lives shared online, but there’s so much that’s positive, funny and wonderful about parenting teens. Our ‘parenting my teens’ Q&A series is designed to help fill the gap and inspire parents of teens everywhere.
A massive thank you to Usha for sharing her ‘parenting my teens’ story.
Hi Usha! Tell us a little bit about you and your teen/s:
Hi! I’m a 50(something) mum of two teenagers. Having worked in finance in London and lived abroad in the dim and distant past, I work part time locally these days. My ‘babies’ are 18 and soon to be 16 – where do the years go?
Describe your parenting style in three words:
I want to say I’m cool, calm and collected…….but I can’t lie! I’d like to think my parenting style is understanding, empathetic and fair.
Now ask your teen/s to describe your parenting style in three words!
18 year old son: relaxed, fair, caring
15 year old daughter: gentle, kind, understanding
(I will be paying them later!)
How is parenting your teen/s now compared to when they were toddlers?
Much more complicated! In all honesty, learning to let them make their own mistakes and travel their own road is my hardest parenting lesson. Both my children have ASD and associated mental health issues, so trying not to overprotect them is an ongoing challenge.
What is your biggest parenting fail? Make us all feel better!
Having a very fussy eater! My son has always struggled to try new foods and I was guilty of taking the easy route by allowing that to develop. Of course, he then became more intransigent about it as he got older, because I hadn’t worked hard enough at it in his early years.
And what are you most proud of as a parent?
I’m proud of so many things about my children. They deal with daily challenges given their ASD, coping with things that many of us take for granted. Fundamentally the most important thing to me is that they are kind, decent and caring people.
What has surprised you most about your teen/s?
How fundamentally different they are! Their interests, abilities and personalities are worlds apart. I’m thankful they get on well despite that.
What’s your best trick to starting a conversation with your teen/s?
My best chats with my children always happen in the car. I work on the basis that they can’t escape from me! I think the lack of eye contact helps them too.
What do your teen/s say you do that embarrasses them most?
Apparently, the thing I do that embarrasses them both is speaking for them, as if they were young children. What can I say – guilty as charged!
And what do they think you say that either annoys them or encourages them the most – your choice!
Conversations about tidying up and doing chores are never very popular in our house. My son also complains that I question his spending habits (with good reason I would argue!). In fairness, he does say that he appreciates how in tune I am with his feelings. My daughter gets annoyed if I talk about her to my friends, but says she is grateful for all my encouragement.
How did you approach the hard conversations – sex, porn, drugs and social media?
Openly, honestly and without embarrassment – the car conversations came in useful for that, as I had to keep my eyes on the road and not on the children!
What/who has been the biggest influence on your parenting style?
My wonderful grandmother, who I adored, was a strong influence on me. I’ve also learnt a lot from my friends and from various sources of information for parents of children with ASD – social media, books, websites etc.
Where do you think your teens will be in 10 years’ time?
I think my daughter will be working with animals, which is her passion. My son hopes to be working in the world of sport. I just hope they find happiness and fulfilment.
Given what you know now, what would you do differently? Get a dog instead?!
I would have had a very long holiday and slept a lot more before embarking on the parenting journey!
Thank you so much, Usha, for such entertaining and relatable answers.
If you’d like to read the earlier blogs from this series, you’ll find them all in the Parenting Teens section of our blog.
Louise & Anna x