The Trials And Tribulations of Parenting a Teenager

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Look for signs of self-harm or self-neglect
Her teenage angst could spiral into depression. Free Pixabay image.

Teenage angst is something most of us remember all too well. Just a few things that come to mind are the first heartbreak, the peer pressure, the quest to look good, and the need to fit in. Those are pressures that we look back upon and smile at knowing that we are now too old and too wise to ever be overly concerned with them again. And if you’re like me then they’re also shocked that you let those things bother you so much. But the majority of teenagers don’t see those things as trivial and as a parent you’ll see them struggling with things that you too found difficult at that young age. Here are some of the trials and tribulations of parenting a teenager and how you can best support your child through these difficult years.

Social Media And the Pressure to Look Good

When we were young, social media wasn’t invented yet. Our circle of friends didn’t extend beyond the four walls of our school. The youth of today has hundreds, maybe even thousands, of “friends” from all corners of the globe on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The need to keep up, look good, and compete is stronger than ever.

In this fast-paced, competitive world it’s important that your teen considers you to be approachable. That way they feel comfortable coming to you with any worries. They need to feel confident that you are taking their issues seriously and that you won’t belittle their problems as something trivial. Teenage girls, in particular, often feel pressure to maintain a thin figure at the detriment of their health. It’s vital that you foster positive relationships with food and exercise and that you praise your children for their appearance and celebrate their individuality.

When parenting a teenager, remember what it was like to be that age
Tips for parents on how to talk to teens. Photo via, Pixabay, CC0.

Depression

Teenage angst, when not addressed early enough, can quickly spiral into a depression that is difficult to emerge from. Like anyone struggling with a mental illness, your child will retreat and isolate themselves. It’s vital that you look out for signs of self-harm and self-neglect using a checklist like the one found at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net. Try to establish an intervention as early as possible too.

Depression can also be the beginning of something much deeper. When parenting a teenager, you need to do all in your power to halt it before it takes hold. Your child may fall in with the wrong crowd and feel pressured into activities that they wouldn’t otherwise do but engage in to fit in. That could mean they take drugs and drink alcohol.

Those substances could turn into the initial stages of addiction for your teen. That’s a serious statement so step in early and seek the help of specialists at a rehab facility such as www.orlandorecovery.com if needed. Encourage your child to confront their issues head on and with your love and support. Most recovery centers have many treatment options available, from outpatient care to a residential program, to help your child on the road to recovery.

Young Love

It’s important that you take any relationship that your child has seriously. And teenage relationships can get serious very quickly. Both your child and their partner may feel like they are in love and have a genuine future together. Don’t belittle this or you run the risk of driving your child away into a secretive and possibly dangerous relationship.

Taking a sincere interest in the relationship and supporting your child might help prevent an unwanted pregnancy or your child developing unhealthy attitudes about relationships. It can be very difficult to be supportive when parenting a teenager though. That’s especially true if you don’t particularly like your teen’s choice of partner. If you forbid the relationship from the start, thought, this will be like a red rag to a bull and they’ll carry on behind your back. The outcomes there could be… well, you get the picture.

Instead, sit down with your teen and their love interest to set some ground rules. Don’t just enforce rules but also listen to what they have to say about the situation. Treat them like adults, and they are more likely to respond in a respectful way.

Yes, it’s easy to forget just how traumatic the teenage years can be. It is even more important in this day and age that you listen to your child though. Address their concerns and be supportive when parenting a teenager, even on the most difficult days.

62 COMMENTS

  1. It reminds me of my 35 years teaching teenagers. The really rough years for me was when my 3 children were in their teens – then I was dealing with teenaged drama 24/7! Yikes! Great advice here, Christy!

  2. It was like I blinked and my teenage years were behind me. When were teenagers all we thought about was being adults. Then when we’re adults we wish we could have our youth back. Life is so ironic. I think to often we forget the stress and peer pressure that we faced as teens. Great post!

  3. Oh I am not looking forward to this! I had a hard time during my teenage years and I didn’t particularly get along with my parents. It’s hard. We will take it one step at a time when it’s time! Social media is definitely bad when it comes to the pressure of looking good!

    • I think the conflict with parents is a bit of us testing the lines.. and trying to better understand independence, as well as our physical spurts… Don’t worry too much about this as you don’t want to miss the beauty around you today xx

  4. i liked this article because it gave me substance to ponder about, so thank you.

    but i’m curious; how do parents make sure they’re parenting well? like, how do they check themselves to assure they fully know and understand their children? i wonder this because parenting seems like such a difficult concept; as humans we only know things about each other that the other person allows us to know… i understand parents have a deeper connection with their children, but – for instance – i had a friend battling depression, and his Psychologist Mother didn’t know, didn’t understand, and didn’t recognize the signs you mentioned… the thought of parenting seems like such a hit and miss: you either understand your child and do a good job parenting, or you don’t.

    • Well it’s a community, really. It’s not just the parents, there’s the teachers, mentors, other family members… By being in the now, taking in situations that seem “off” and alerting those around you, hopefully everyone stays safe. It’s not a perfect system, nothing is, and depression in particular is tough because we don’t want anyone to know about it so we try to keep it secret. This is why we encourage anyone who is depressed to reach out to someone. It’s one of several “invisible” illnesses

  5. Social media is such a weird beast for kids and parents to be navigating together and essentially coming up with the rules for it as we go.

  6. Interesting, and very relevant. And these words are superb: “…the quest to look good and the need to fit in are pressures that we look back upon and smile at knowing that we are now too old and too wise to ever be overly concerned by these issues again…”

  7. I imagine being a teen in today’s world is just as hard as parenting one. The best thing we can do is try to put ourselves in our child’s shoes. The issues they face are in some ways different than the ones we did, but if we remember how we felt as teenagers we should be able to empathize with what they’re going through

  8. Thanks for sharing! My son is almost in his teenage years. We’re always arguing, and lashing out at each other. I guess I never really put much thought into the daily struggles he endures every single day!

  9. (I’m new to your blog!) Great post! I suffered through High School. Between the combination of hormones and social pressures I’m surprised I made it out alive! I’m really not looking forward to the teen years with my daughter.

  10. Love your post. I have my 14 year old teenage granddaughter who comes from a very troubled background living with me and it is tough. I have a great respect for parents of the digital age because the technology adds a whole new dimension. I have just written a blog myself as a tribute to our young parents

  11. Your post is spot on. I think on a daily basis it’s hard to remember all the things teenagers go through these days. It’s hard to remember that when they are pushing you to your limit. It’s hard to remember… until your 17 year old son is sobbing in your arms. Thank you for posting this. I hope everyone hugs their children a little longer and a little tighter today.

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