10 Things I've Learnt About Teenagers

A while back, I wrote this post about life with our teenager, and how this new phase in our lives had totally caught me off-guard and was causing me much angst and more than a little self-doubt in the parenting department. (Go ahead, read that baby, I'll be right here when you get back.)

And here I am again with a little update on how our teenage experience is going so far: Our daughter is now nearly 15, and where others might have this thing d-o-w-n by now, for the most part we are still not winning at this teen parenting thing. In fact we're probably looking at a 'one part winning, two parts sucking' kind of a deal, at this point. But as far as I've read and am hearing, that's pretty much how things roll when dealing with this demographic. Amirite? Okay, okay, it might simply be a bigger learning curve for some of us.

Anyway, based on the 'not winning thing', I'm probably not the best person to be dishing out any advice when it comes to parenting a teen, so I won't. Instead, I'll just let you in on a few things that I've learnt over the past year, just in case you are also the parent of a teenager and feel the need for camaraderie... or you haven't got anything better to do at the moment. Here goes:

1. If you're not consistent, you're going to fail.

2. If you ask too many questions, you won't get many answers. Just don't. It only infuriates them. And also, "Seriously? Why must you ask so many questions?" I reckon the trick is to ask one question with long breaks in between. Probably. Maybe.

3. Trying to diffuse a serious situation with a joke doesn't always go down well. "Stop making jokes and listen to me!"

4. Untidy bedrooms are apparently common when it comes to teenagers. I'm trying not to let it be a constant battle - if she can live in the mess, let her.

5. When we started turning the wi-fi off at 10pm every night, there was lots of freaking out and stories about how everyone else's parents are way cooler and  allow their kids on the Internet until much later. Stay strong, the freaking out does subside.

6. Teenagers need lots of reassurance;  and space.

7. Find ways to compliment them, not criticize them. They're learning and even though they think they know it all, find opportunities to gently teach them when they need guidance.

8. Buy them their own make-up so they don't use yours (mostly applies to girls).

9. Continue to talk to them (just not in the form of questions) even when all you get back is a one word answer or an eye roll. They probably are listening (but don't quote me, because I can't vouch for that).

10. When they do talk to you, listen.

Wow, you guys, it's almost as if I am a guru. N-o-t. (Seriously though, I'm not a professional when it comes to teenagers. Duh. So, proceed with caution. And maybe the odd glass of wine.)

What pearls of wisdom do you have to share? What really works in your family? I'd love to hear your comments.


  1. Hi Bianca, thanks for that post, I needed it just now. We have four girls, three of whom are teenagers (19, 15 and 14). If there is anything I've learned it is that there are no answers as to how to deal with teenager-madness. My girls are all so different in personality as well as in the way they react to situations. One thing I have learned is to keep a straight face at the right time as there's nothing quite like laughing at something a teenage girl thinks is serious to ignite an unwelcome flow of emotions. Loved no.8 on the list :) Carol

    1. Hi Carol. :) Thanks for taking the time to comment and for still reading my blog after my long break! I totally agree with what you say - I don't think there are any perfect answers that routinely work for every teenager. I think that's been my biggest problem - I've got certain ideas as to how things are supposed to be and I've slowly been realizing that flexibility is essential. Every teenager is unique and therein lies the beauty. I keep on telling myself to 'just enjoy the ride'! Keep well. :)

  2. Now, because I am THAT old, I remember YOU as a teenager. May I remind you of some things?!
    You thought your mom was SOOOOOOOO strict.
    You thought some of the rules were stupid, but you lived by them anyway.
    When mom was happy, everyone was happy.
    You were highly protective of your bedroom and your space
    You made jokes to try and dispel tension.
    We thought the curfews we had were waaaaaay too early, but we came home anyway.
    Your initial taste in boys was terrible (glad you got that one right!)
    We borrowed each others clothes and accessories.

    Remember how cool it was that Jenny hired "Rocky Horror Picture Show" for us and sat through n number of reditions of us doing the Timewarp? Remember going fishing or bait collection (we didn't!) with Geoff in the back of the bakkie and we just roared with laughter for hours?

    LOL! Good times!

    1. Those WERE some good times, weren't they? And I must say that having a teenager is bringing back so many of those memories for me. The teenage years are such an exciting time but for the insecurities and lack of hindsight and cash!

      Thanks for the lovely comment. Isn't it fascinating what one remembers from the past? Crazy.

      Chat again soon. x

  3. Yeah I was rather strict wasn't I? It's a learning curve all along the way, and I guess the firstborn has the toughest time. You girls survived the teenager years, and so will your children. It's all about lots and lots of love in amongst all the clashing.
    By the way I still LOVE the music from Rocky Horror Picture Show!! :) xxx


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