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 Helen for sharing her ‘parenting my teens’ story.
Tell us a little bit about you and your teen/s:
I’m a 55 year old mum of two teenagers – Maddie is 17 and studying for A-levels; Evan is nearly 15. I live in Hertfordshire and am a copywriter, blogger, and host of the Teenage Kicks podcast.
Describe your parenting style in three words:
Firm but fair.
Now ask your teen/s to describe your parenting style in three words!
Rampant child abuse 😂
How is parenting your teen/s now compared to when they were toddlers?
SO much easier! I think toddler was the most difficult phase for me, and I lost my temper regularly. Now I can reason with them I’m much more of a grown up in difficult situations and we have great conversations.
What is your biggest parenting fail? Make us all feel better!
Not noticing that my daughter had broken her foot. She was so accident-prone that it was too embarrassing to show up at A&E for the 8th time to be told it was just a sprain, so I sent her into school. The head teacher decided it wasn’t like her to be crying in school and sent her home with an instruction to go to hospital.
And what are you most proud of as a parent?
That my kids get glowing reports from all the adults they meet. They may be monosyllabic and grumpy with me sometimes, but they pull it out of the bag where it counts.
What has surprised you most about your teen/s?
How easy they are! Honestly, I was terrified of the teenage years, but I’ve found them much easier than any other stage. We have plenty of challenges but I’ve always tried to listen and talk to them like adults, and it seems to work.
What’s your best trick to starting a conversation with your teen/s?
I just make time whenever they want to talk to me if I can. They almost never want to talk if I start it. Sitting on the sofa while they play video games can sometimes be a good starting point too, if I really need to talk with them.
What do your teen/s say you do that embarrasses them most?
Being on social media. They hate that their friends follow me on Instagram.
And what do they think you say that either annoys them or encourages them the most – your choice!
They say I turn everything into a teachable moment, so they never get to just moan and let off steam with me – they always get a learning perspective!
How do you approach the hard conversations – sex, porn, drugs and social media?
I think I made life really easy for myself by telling them the truth whenever they asked me, from a very young age. I talk about what’s going on in the news and ask them what they think, so we covered difficult things quite young. I try to make it non-scary according to their age, but never gloss over anything.
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?
Probably as far away from me as they can get!
Given what you know now, what would you do differently? Get a dog instead?!
I really wish I hadn’t worried so much when they were younger. I wish I could have been a more laid-back mum. The benefit of hindsight…
Thank you so much, Helen, for such positive and encouraging answers. Lovely to hear from someone who’s so enthusiastic about parenting teenagers!
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