"Hi Julie, I have an interesting question for you. You see, my 12-year-old has no problems talking to me but I can't seem to talk with her. I hate to admit this but I just don't know what to talk about that doesn't feel so big, so serious. Any ideas?"
I love this question so much! And, you betcha! I have 225 ideas for you!
Sometimes we all get stuck in a communication rut, especially with teens. Their world can seem very different - even secretive - from our own "grown-up" world. Or, we are happy to talk but everything feels like it is way to serious, and we look for a lighter topic.
Since your daughter is already willing to talk with you, carve out moments when *you* are able to engage. The more you are able to talk, the more you will not only develop greater confidence and self-esteem in your daughter; you will also earn her trust. The more she can come to you with the little stuff, the more she will know that you will listen to the big things.
Today’s question is definitely one that hits close to home.
The question comes from Tracey, a mom of two: a 20-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son. And she said:
“I feel like all my son does is sit around and do nothing after-school and on the weekends. I keep telling him that he needs to find an activity or a cause. If he doesn’t, I’m going to choose one for him. Is that okay, or should I just wait until he chooses his own interests?”
I’ve had many parents ask me this, and it’s a great question.
The short answer is yes and yes. Yes, you need to give him some space. And, yes, after you give him some space, you can give him some ideas.
For both parents and kids, there’s so much pressure. As parents, we want to create this perfect childhood experience for our little ones. And as kids, they want to please, especially us. It doesn’t matter if you’re 80, 45, or 14 — that pressure’s...
Around age ten, (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) communication begins to change. Without notice, kids may stop hanging onto every word — or sometimes, any word at all. After working with children and adolescents for almost three decades, one thing I have learned with absolute certainty is this: You really need to earn the right to be heard. Yeah, you read that correctly — you have to earn that right.
I know what you’re probably saying, “But I’m the parent, Jules. I mean, come on!” Or maybe you’re the educator and you’re thinking, “But I’m their teacher. Surely that means they need to listen to me.”
I get it. I really do. When you work and live with teens, those moments definitely pop up.
Here’s the truth we as parents, educators and adults need to accept: Assuming that your role in a teen’s life makes you worthy to be heard is a mistake.
It’s so hard to believe that this year is almost complete. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was wondering what the next twelve months would bring. Today, I’m a little in awe by all that it did bring. Some of it amazingly good, some epically eh and definitely a bit of “I wanna stay in bed with the covers over my head..” As I journaled about it all, I remembered a mentor who has once said, “Jules, the story of your life is being written every single minute” and “The days may feel long, my friend, but the years are oh-so-short.”
As a mom of three teenagers, I am ever so aware that time goes by too fast. From the time kids are born, it is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of naps, the tedium of tantrums, and drain of schedules. I’m the first to raise my hand and admit that I spent quite a bit of time in their early years wondering if fast-forwarding all the clocks in the house would get them to bed sooner. As they...
The holidays are both our family’s most favorite and most stressful time of the year. This year I’m extra worried because I feel like I can’t tell what my 15 year old son is feeling. Is he excited? Is he down? Is he happy? Help! How can I support my son this holiday season so he doesn’t get too stressed?
L.B., mom of 3, ages 9, 10 and 15
The holiday season is full of trees lit with beautiful lights, bells are ringing, school recitals, parties, and sweet treats are being passed around. Sounds idyllic, yes? For many teens, though, the holidays can be a challenging time of year. The bounce-back that allows teens to manage stress at other times of the year may not serve them now. Academic pressure including finishing projects and studying for finals, completing community service hour quotas, attending team events and competitions coupled with parties and gatherings, gift buying dilemmas and confusion, FOMO (fear of missing out)...
Over the holidays, when my kids were little we played pretend all the time. I admit I got a little bored of being a magic horse that could also make chocolate chip cookies, but I knew it was important. Now that my kids are older (tweens and teens) I’m wondering if we’re still supposed to be “playing”, and if so, how do you play with a 12 year old?
By nature, we are born to play; it’s instinctual. Play is still incredibly important to adolescents. It helps them thrive by connecting their ideas, feelings, and creativity, to what they understand about the world. It helps to further develop their sense of well-being and identity. Play can also help develop a sense of command and resiliency over their responses to tragedies, setbacks, and obstacles. Additionally, if a teen is experiencing anxiety, play can calm and relax him while simultaneously stimulating the brain and body. Truly, play is fundamental to physical, emotional, and social...
It feels like just yesterday I was sitting on the bay of the river, toes in sand, watching the fireworks above me. Today, I’m sitting on the living room floor, toes wrapped in wool socks, watching my teens argue over what pie we should have and tossing around ornaments for a tree that won’t up be up for another few weeks.
Yep, the holiday season is upon us. This truly is my favorite time of year where we celebrate family, friends, tradition, and spirit. Yet, all too often, we stumble and trip through the season only to begin the new year overwhelmed and exhausted. And, it’s not just you.
The American Psychological Association conducted a survey that found that adolescents and young adults report the highest level of stress among all ages. When their holiday overwhelm is paired with other seasonal stressors such as fewer hours of daylight, changes in routines, holiday guests, academic workload, finals, college applications and more, they return to the daily grind...
Do you remember when you were younger and thought anything was possible? Perhaps Superman was your hero, and you were convinced that draping a towel over your shoulders and jumping off the sofa made you just like him. Or maybe you loved Dorothy Hamill (yes, I’m dating myself now) and promptly got a cute haircut and skated around your house with your shoebox-inspired carpet skates. Do you remember when the possibilities in life were limitless?
Do you also remember when you convinced yourself that nothing was possible? Perhaps your parents said there was no way you could ever fly (breaking your wrist didn't help the case, did it?), or your best friend laughed at your now-not-so-trendy haircut. Whatever the case, mountains may have seemed too high to scale, and confidence no longer fueled your youthful naïveté. Those feelings impacted your choices, and they are impacting your child's, too.
You see, today's youth have those same feelings of power and powerlessness....
Starting today with a big ol' parenting teens truth bomb.
(this will be a bit rambling but here goes...)
Parenting teens is hard, and, then it’s easy. Then, it will be hard again. Then, it will be confusing. Really confusing before it becomes scary, exciting, frustrating, funny, weird, and wild. It will be sticky and shiny and dirty and colorful and lonely and social. Parenting teens is life. Your life and your teens.
Stop looking for the “right” way and choose the way that works for you and your family. Parenting is not about being the best parent or having the best child. It’s about being the best parent for your kids. It’s about being the best you for you. Being what is best for your teen means letting go … of control, of guilt, of excuses, of perfection to parent the teen you have right now - not the perfect one seen on TV or online. You can aim for perfection every time but you will always end up human. Be human.
Help me, Julie! My daughter is getting ready to start 6th grade, and, all of a sudden, she seems like a totally different kid. Overnight she seemed to change from my little girl to full-blown teenager!! It’s making my head spin! Is this normal?
Picture this … a 12-year-old girl proudly bats her mascara’ed-lashes at the cute boy in her English class. Hours later, she shrieks that, “Ew! He put a booger on my desk. He’s so gross!.” In the evening, she thinks about the other boy she has been chatting with on her forbidden SnapChat account before falling asleep under her bubblegum pink comforter surrounded by all her stuffed animals. Tweens and early teens often seem dramatic, irrational, and scream-y in one moment and cheerful, giddy, and loving the next. They have a deep need for independence and for tender care. Many parents shake their heads wondering if their child is crazy or possessed.