“Can I have a hug?” She says casually, “because I like hugs.”
– my teenage daughter
A day with a teen can be pretty up and down. We can literally go from snuggles, to dirty looks, and back to hugs in a short space of time, and any given moment. We were in a bookstore today, spending time browsing shelves and picking up books that caught our eye, flicking through pages and sharing things that looked interesting with one another. My little family loves books, and it is something I have no problem spending money on, (within budget of course). Hubby picked up a book, I can’t remember the exact name (sorry), but it was aimed towards dads and about how they can cope with having a teenage daughter. He laughed as he showed me the book and the man behind the counter commented that clearly we had a teen.
With all the warnings you receive about how terrible teens can be, plus your own memories of what you were like, you may dread your child ever reaching this stage, I know there have been times I have been completely terrified of mine becoming teenagers. I have a tween and a teen, my teen is still only thirteen so I am hardly an expert, or a ‘wise one’ when talking about teenagers, and I am sure if you ask me in a few years if I still feel the same, I may say something completely different! I am of course not going to say it has all been smooth sailing, but I think teens get a hard time, and probably for the most part, that is pretty unfair.
There are days I feel completely confused, overwhelmed and over my head with having a teen. There are moments that I want to pull my hair out. She says one thing and then another, she’s laughing and then she is crying. She wants space, then she will cling to me as if her life is about to end. The thing is though, even in my moments of feeling overwhelmed I still ‘get it’. Life is pretty overwhelming for me and somedays I want to cry my eyes out and have a hug, and twenty minutes later I may just want some time alone. As adults we all get confused and frustrated with life, we all laugh, we all want to scream, so why would a teenager be any different? Why do we expect them to act politely and never complain, or be ungrateful when we do it ourselves? Are we just setting our standards too high? Or are we just so tired that we can not bare to deal with someone else’s raging emotions and hormones?
As a mum of a teen, and a tween my advice would be this;
- set clear boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour.
- give your teen some responsibilities around the house.
- if you have pets it is a great way to teach them responsibility, and how to care for others.
- when they need some space allow them this.
- respect their right to privacy, unless you fear they are actually in danger. (Here I am talking about diaries and being private with their bodies. Internet safety is a whole other issue.)
- never turn them away when they are in need of a hug.
- if they want to talk make the time, even if it can’t be right away make sure you schedule a time and stick to it.
- don’t make promises you can not keep.
- have clear home rules, the less confusion about rules the better.
- let them have friends over, it is the best way to gauge how they are fitting in, and how they relate to their peers. It also allows you to get to know their friendship groups too.
- don’t make harsh comments about their personalities.
- refrain from comments about their body, or appearance.
- let them make their own clothing choices unless it is really inappropriate.
- praise them for behaviour you are proud of.
- remember that they are going through a lot of changes and try to be as patient as you can.
Yesterday my daughter came to me and asked if she could have a hug, “because I like hugs,” she told me. I took her in my arms and held her until she was ready to let go. It is a confusing time for her, but I am her safe place. Sometimes she may push me away, or not feel like telling me what is bothering her, I just have to be patient and wait for her to come to me. I let her know that it’s ok if she needs time alone in her room to think, or just be by herself for a while, but I always add that I am right here ready when she needs me.
I tell my daughter that time alone can be a good thing, as long as you don’t stay that way, and whether it is me or someone else she trusts, she should always talk to someone about what she is going through after she has had time to process her own feelings.
We will both continue to learn this mother daughter thing together.
Do you have any advice? What do you wish your mother had done, or not done when you were a teen?
Thanks for joining me, love Mackenzie xx