3 Big Parenting Shifts When Your Kids become Teenagers


While we know that are a lot of changes are children experience as they move into the teenager years, sometimes we forget that there are lots of changes parents experience as well.  According to Psychology Today, here are 3 ways your parenting style may shift as you head into the teen years:

You step down as primary decision-maker and step up your coaching
When kids hit adolescence they tend to “fire us as their managers” and it is time to hand over the decision-making reins to our teens. “By adolescence, we parents need to (take a deep breath and) let them make their own decisions about their lives,” writes Christine L. Carter, Ph.D. “It’s not that we never say no anymore. Nor do we stop enforcing our family rules. It’s that we start to involve teens more in creating the rules, and we let them make their own decisions — which they are going to do anyway.”

Think of yourself as a coach—ask questions and provide emotional support during the decision-making process.

You influence them differently
All the information we would give them about their health and well-being during the elementary years seems to pretty much be ineffective during the teen years.  “When we give our adolescents a lot of information, especially when it is information that they don’t really want or that they think they already have, it can feel infantilizing to them,” says Carter. “Even if we deliver the information as we would to another adult, teenagers will often feel disrespected by the mere fact of our instruction.”

So, when it’s time to bring up a topic, speak as you would to someone you “really, really respect”—this will help you deliver it in a way that will resonate with your teen.

You have a lot of hard conversations
You move from talking about their favorite foods and TV shows to talking about things like sex and college applications. “What starts as a casual conversation can quickly become an emotional minefield. It’s hard not to let our own agendas creep in. And it can be really hard to manage our own big feelings about things,” suggests Carter.

The best way to handle such conversation is to take baby steps, staying focused on short observations and simple questions. “Let teens lead; our real value comes when we listen rather than instruct. Even when we have a lot to say, it’s more important to give them a chance to speak, to work out what they are thinking in a low-risk environment. Practice staying calm despite the discomfort. Keep taking deep breaths. Keep relaxing your shoulders. Notice your discomfort, and welcome it. It’s nothing to be afraid of.”

You can read the full article from Psychology Today here. What shifts have you made as your kids became teenagers?

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