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parenting teens

I’M NOT OK, BUT I THINK IT’S OK

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I suffer from mummy guilt.  Heck I suffer from all kinds of guilt to be honest.  There are days when all I seem to do is work extremely hard to gain perfection, even if it runs me in to the ground.  I often chase my tail with this quest for perfection.  I berate myself for not doing enough.  I wonder why I can’t be the perfect parent, have a spotless house, redecorate the house.  And so the list goes.

 

Not surprisingly, research has shown that beating myself up doesn’t work.  It has also shown that perfection doesn’t work either.  These might seem obvious but when I’m in the middle of feeling these things, I often dismiss everything else.

 

In my attempt to move away for this guilt I am trying to work on it.  I am trying to acknowledge the guilt when it raises its ugly head and then let it go.  I have started to work on this and it is tough.  Making a conscious decision to even acknowledge the guilt is so difficult but I know so much will improve if I continue to do this.

 

 

 

I honestly don’t know why I try and be a super-parent.  Do you?  I guess acknowledging that I’m not ok, acknowledging the guilt and releasing surely will have a positive impact on my parenting.

 

Giving myself permission to make mistakes is something I’m not used to but it’s something that I know must be continued.  I need to let go of trying to be perfect.

 

I need to get back to appreciating time spent with my family and stop worrying about the little things (like untidy bedrooms!).  After all, my family means so much to me, being with them is a pleasure.  Things go much more smoothly when I’m in a happier mood.  My kids also feel the benefits.

 

I know dealing with guilt will be an ongoing exercise but I’m sure over time it will become easier.

 

 

Do you suffer from mummy guilt?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Health / Relationships

HOW 30 MINUTES A DAY CAN HELP YOU CONNECT TO YOUR TEEN

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Round our dinner table is the perfect opportunity for us to relive what has happened during the day.  It’s where we can discuss our achievements, our dreams and have a laugh.

 

You can probably gather that the best way to make that connection with your teen is having dinner together. Research has shown that kids who eat dinner together with family members are less likely to be involved in drugs or alcohol or indeed suffer from depression.

 

Having dinner together on a regular basis is important and I would encourage you to do it and stay connected or help reconnect with your teen.

Here are my top tips to help you get started.

 

  • Turn off your TV & Smart Phones

    We give so much attention to the TV and our smart phones these days.  It’s important to protect family time together.  So prioritise having dinner together as a family after all the world will still be there after 30 minutes!

  • It’s not just about the food

    You don’t have to knock your pan in to cook the ‘perfect’ meal.  Pick an easy recipe and get everyone to help out.  This is especially important if you’ve been working all day or are exhausted.

  • Remember to listen

    Do you know that your teenager wants to talk to you?  Remember to listen to what your teenager has to say. Don’t offer advice unless you are asked.  I know it is difficult as a parent not to go in to advice mode but it does make for a better relationship if you hold off until asked and just listen.

 

  • Make it fun

    It doesn’t have to be a serious chat if it isn’t needed.  Take turns to select music or choose dessert.  It really doesn’t matter as long as you chat and spend time together.

 

  • Make a plan

    Agree on which nights will be family nights to have dinner.  Protect those nights too.  Of course plans can change but make this a priority for all the family and don’t miss this important time.

 

So do you have family meal times?  I’d love to hear how you stay connected to your teen.

 

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THINGS I DO AS A PARENT WHEN I NEED TIME OUT FROM MY TEENAGER!

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Yes I admit it, there are days when I need a time out from being a parent.  Family life can be overwhelming and parenting a teen can be even more so at times.  I am not alone as I know other parents feel like they are treading water at times.  Which is why taking some time to focus on yourself is so important.

 

Self Care

Self care is extremely important.  Think of everything you do as a parent for your children, these steps of care need to be taken for yourself too.  Whether you have a newborn baby or are a seasoned parent, taking care of yourself is extremely important.  I don’t just mean physical care, I also mean social, psychological and even spiritual too.

 

Physical Self Care

There are ways to take care of your physical self.  These are just a few of the things I do on a regular basis when I can.

  • Eat healthy meals
  • Take some exercise
  • Try to get enough sleep
  • Spend some time outdoors in the fresh air
  • Disconnect from your phone, text and email for a bit!

 

 

Psychological/mental Self Care

There are things you can do to ensure your mental health is well.  Again I try and do as much of these as possible.

 

  • Stay in touch with family and friends
  • Talk with family and friends and express how you are feeling
  • Take time to reconnect with your favourite activities
  • Don’t take on any extra responsibilities

 

Spiritual Self Care

This isn’t about religion, it’s about self reflection.  Give yourself time to reflect on your feelings through some quiet time.  Take walks to give yourself space to think.  Write things down in a journal too.

 

 

 

As parents we often feel under a lot of pressure.  At times we even feel guilty doing something for ourselves.  However, if we neglect to take care of ourselves, this can lead to further stress.  This stress puts our bodies under strain and can impact on our immune system or lead to mental health issues.

 

 

Our role as parents involves teaching our children about looking after themselves so it’s extremely important that we do the same.  When we look after ourselves we can take on the role as parent with renewed energy and optimism.

 

What do you do to help with your self care?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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A GAME PLAN TO HELP YOU PARENT YOUR TEENAGER

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I don’t know about you but there are days when I need a little bit of help parenting.  I try my best to have a great relationship with my teenager as it seems to help with everyone in the household being happy and content.

 

I’ve pulled together what I’m calling a game plan for anyone who needs that little bit of support parenting a teenager.

 

Game Plan Priority 1:  Eat dinner together

Meal times, especially dinner is a great opportunity to catch up with my teenager and talk about what has happened during the day and whatever other things are going on in his life.  It’s also a great opportunity to spot any problems that might arise.  I find this connection to be an important part of staying connected to your teen.

 

Game Plan Priority 2:  Establish together time

As well as meal times, I try and check in a few times a day.  I find that open communication seems to help especially if my son has any issues.  Of course there are times when he doesn’t want to talk but I try and go with the flow on that one!  Also, there are times when I go for a walk with him.  This is a great opportunity for a chat but I just wish he would walk slower!  You can find more ways of communicating with my blog post here.

 

Game Plan Priority 3:  Appropriate Parenting

This has been the most difficult aspect of parenting a teen.  Having an appropriate way to deal with the issues which are sometimes presented.  Understanding that you teenager is growing up and needs more freedom is the first step to being able to parent in an appropriate way without over-reacting.  An example of this was when my teenager wanted to dye his hair – I decided to let him and also help him do it!

 

Game Plan Priority 4:  Keeping the communication going

No matter what is going on in our lives, I try my best to keep the lines of communication going with my teenager.  It’s an important tool to know what is going on – after all if you know then you can help them.  At the moment I am trying to be a better listener and ask open ended questions to encourage my son to continue engaging with us.

 

 

 

I hope the game plan helps you parent your teen.  This is an exciting and challenging time for us as parents.  It’s especially challenging when teens shift their focus from us as mummies and daddies to their peers and other passions.  It is critical then to ensure we remain connected to them and continue to guide them.

 

I’d love to know what challenges you are facing as a parent of a teen.  Feel free to get in touch.

 

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THINGS YOU CAN DO IF YOU CATCH YOUR TEENAGER LOOKING AT PORN

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I am writing this as a parent who has experienced this lately.  Despite my best efforts, my teenager gained access to pictures.  To say I was shocked was an under-statement.  I was alarmed that with all the safeguards I had put in place, in this internet age it’s getting increasingly difficult to protect my teenager all of the time.

 

Of course, my first reaction was panic, anger, annoyance, shock, and a sudden urge to rant and rave at my teenager.  Being a mummy to a teenager I had to harness all my strength to sit calmly and decide how to deal with the situation.

 

First port of call was my husband to chat about the situation.  Together we came up with a solution we were both happy with and which I wanted to share with you now.

 

Normalising the situation

Before approaching our son, we talked about how we both wanted to normalise the situation.  Sex and curiosity about sex is a normal part of growing up and an important part of relationships.  While we didn’t want to endorse the behaviour, we didn’t want our teenager to feel there was any shame or anything dirty about being curious about sex.  So rather than making him feel shame, we talked about his curiosity being expressed in another way.

 

Getting our emotions under control

This was the most difficult part for me.  Of course, having distance from the problem was great, in that it allowed me to calm down.  Having strong feelings about what our teenager had been looking at brought in to question my skills of being a parent.  I realised that being angry was not going to get my son to listen, having the time to calm down certainly helped me to formulate what I had to say.

 

Explaining porn

We felt it was important to talk about our reasons for not wanting our teenager to view porn.  Let’s face it porn sites are not about sex between a loving couple, they contain content that no-one would want a teenager to learn from.  We talked about the exploitive nature of porn and how it isn’t a portrayal of real life.  We also talked about loving relationships.

 

What next?

After the process of normalising the situation, getting our emotions under control and explaining our reasons why we didn’t want our teenager looking at it, we emphasied again what the boundaries were in terms of looking at porn.

 

Of course, we also refreshed and increased our internet controls too!

 

 

Have you had to deal with this issue?  Are there any hints or tips you would like to share?

 

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5 THINGS MY TEENAGER NEEDS

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I absolutely adore and love my boys.  There are days though where it is challenging.  I often forget how difficult it is being a teenager with all the stresses and strains of growing up.  When I look at my boys I still see them as children.  I feel for them and the struggles they face as they try and find their place in the world.

Below I’ve listed some things that I believe every teenager needs.  I’m doing my best to provide these to my two boys.  I would love to know what you think.

 

My Teenager needs privacy

I can remember at that age I wanted to spend most of my time in my bedroom with the door closed.  That seems to be the same for all teenagers.  As a parent I’m trying my best to give my teenagers their privacy.  At that age they often need a lot of space so I’m not going to take it personally at all!

 

My teenager needs love

While the hugging at the school gates is no longer welcome, I try my best to give my boys a hug or two every day.  I also find it important to tell them how much I love them and think they are great too!  Teenagers still need support and guidance, I try my best to offer when it’s asked for.

 

My teenager needs to be listened to

There are times when he needs time to himself.  But there are time when he wants to talk.  I try to be there when he needs to talk.  My job is to listen and ask questions and take an interested in what is going on in his life.

 

My teenager still needs boundaries

While I respect my teenagers need for privacy and I completely understand the changes in his body, he still needs boundaries.  For example, staying safe online is extremely important.  We have certain boundaries but we also explain why we have them in place.

 

My teenager wants/needs to be different

My son recently asked me to help him dye his hair.  My first reaction was to say no!  But that was more to do with my issues than his.  So I decided to say yes, in fact I helped him!  I guess this reaction to doing things different is him trying to see where he fits in this big world.  I am doing my best to be supportive of that.

 

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4 WAYS TO SAY CONNECTED TO YOUR TEEN

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It can be difficult to stay connected to your teen as they grow and become more independent.  The relationship we as parents once had is different especially as they grow from being a child to a teen and that can take some getting used to!  I know this from experience – it took me a while to realise that my kids still needed me but in a different way.

 

For me, it was and continues to be extremely important to stay connected and communication on a regular basis with my teenager.  Below are 4 ways I’m attempting to stay connected to my boys.  I hope these tips help you stay connected too.

 

Ask questions AND listen

There are times when my teen just doesn’t want to communicate but it’s important that I show him how much I’m interested in what he does.  I often ask how his day at school has been and I also ensure I pay close attention to his answer.  I often give him my undivided attention.  It’s counter productive if you ask a question and don’t listen or sit on your phone while your teen is talking.

 

Watch movies or a TV programme together

We do this as a family – we watch the Walking Dead and when that’s on a break we watch a movie.  I feel it is extremely important to spend time together and watching a TV programme or movie and discussing it afterwards is an excellent way of doing this.  It also gives my a way of forgetting about the stress of homework or exams that may be coming up!

 

 

Doing Chores together

There are chores I hate to do, and chores I know both my kids hate to do.  I try and do some of these together.  For example my tween and I mowed the lawn the other day together.  It was a great way to bond and it’s a great lesson to show how to maintain a home!

 

 

Give them a Hug everyday & remind them you love them

It can be difficult to get your teen to hug you but I highly recommend it!  It’s important for us as a family to hug each other every day and to express how much we love each other.  This is a great way of bolstering your teens self-esteem and a hug also helps you relieve stress!

 

Are you finding it difficult to communicate with your teen?  I’d love to hear your views.

 

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6 SECRETS EVERY PARENT SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TEENAGERS

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Teenagers can be a mystery at times and as a mummy to two lovely boys, one is a teenager, the other a tween, life can be fun!

 

Approaching the teen years my hubby and I were a little scared to say the least but we have found that friction between teens and parents is not inevitable.

 

If you take time to read up on what your teenager’s body is going through and why they act the way they do then you too can take courage knowing it doesn’t have to be scary.

 

Of course, we are not perfect parents but we have tried our best to be honest, open and loving so that the teenage years allows our son to find his way in the world and define his own path with the honest answers to questions he asks.

 

We let him know how much we value his opinions, how much we respect his views even when there are times we don’t agree with them.

 

I hope the following 6 ‘secrets’ help you on your parenting journey as your child reaches the teen years.

 

A teenager looks grown-up but they are not

The part of the brain to do with planning and organising is very much unfinished during the teen years.  This is the reason so many teenagers become distracted or forgetful during this period.  Knowing this will give you as a parent the empathy to guide your teenager during this time rather than shouting at how forgetful they are being – truth is they really can’t help it!

 

No matter how much you feed them, it is never enough!

The teenage body is developing more during this period than at any other stage of life so this growing and developing requires a lot of nutrients, hence more often than not teenagers eat more during this period.  Of course every teenager is different but this has been our experience.

 

Teenagers are messy

What can I say; it is a fact of teenage life.  This often goes for both girls and boys in my experience.  Again this is emblematic of the teenage years and is a personal disorganisation brought about by the growing and as mentioned about the part of the brain to do with planning and organising being unfinished.  Of course the untidy room will drive you as a parent nuts but my advice is to relax – it is not an affront to your own personal domestic prowess nor is it about disrespecting you as a parent – it is simply a fact of teenage life.  My advice is not to allow the messy room to become a power struggle between yourself and your teenager.  Instead make it part of earning extra money for extra chores but remember – give them one task at a time!

 

Teenagers want to be understood

There are times when teenagers want to be left alone, they throw out words such as stay out of my business or leave me alone.  While there are times your teenager does need space they do however want their parents to know how they are feeling and what drives them.  Teenagers will continue to challenge you as a parent but remember this is all part of them growing up and finding out who they are.  My advice is to stop and listen to your teenager, be patient and you will learn more about your teenager than you ever thought possible.

 

 

Teenagers are under a lot of strain from peer pressure

There are times when I laugh this off but it is serious for teenagers. Peer pressure is a big thing in their life – from school, from friends.  It is important to steer your teenager through the peer pressure but do it with a bit of sensitivity.  I’ve found involving your teenagers in a club or sport will divert their attention at times.  I would also encourage you to praise your teenager as much as possible which will encourage them to continue to do the action they are being praised for.

 

Teenagers are night owls and not early birds

There are times when teenagers won’t go to bed at a reasonable hour and of course you can’t then get them up in the morning.  Did you know there is a biological basis for this?  During the teen years the circadian clock is programmed differently from adults – it is usually about 3 or 4 hours difference.  So don’t worry about this it will pass but as a parent you should be aware that your teenager may be grumpy and sleep deprived so perhaps if they argue with you it has nothing to do with you at all just the mood your teenager is in.

 

I do hope you have found these tips helpful.  There is no manual on how to raise children, but as parents we try our best to understand how our children act as they do.  We also try to guide, love and cherish them through all stages of their lives.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on raising teenagers.

 

Lisa x

 

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