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6 Things Every Teenager Needs to Hear From You

Teens are notorious for thinking that they know everything. And they’ll tell you how little you know – communicated through a complex pattern of eye rolls, bad attitude, and sometimes even the profound words, “OMG you are so…” (Fill in the blank here with your teenager’s favorite words.)


As much as you thought your teen would never be one of “those” teens, they are. And that’s perfectly normal. Developmentally they are going through amazing physical and emotional changes. Based on brain size alone, they are technically smarter than us. Their brain is at its biggest and highest capacity right now. So they reach this level of knowing it all pretty naturally.

Sadly, what they don’t know, and few of us can articulate at just the right moment, is that their brain is big but not completely developed. They feel passionately about all kinds of things and their sense of justice and what needs to happen at home and school and the world is often turned on full blast. But the fine tuning of emotions that needs to happen is still a work in progress. It’s like they have a gas pedal but no breaks.

Teens need to learn how to tap the brakes on their emotions and learn to regulate themselves. They need to practice using their emotions at the right time, at the right speed, and in the right situations. Here are six things you can say to help. 

1 | I’m proud of you.

Find a way to say this as often as possible. Be proud of their knowledge and be proud of things they do or try. Go to games, go to competitions. Go to their plays and shows and concerts. And when you’re done, even though they’re walking four feet in front of you and acting as though you may possibly be the most embarrassing person on the planet, tell them you are proud of them. Maybe wait until you’re in the car, but tell them!

2 | I’m wrong.

This one hurts, but it’s the very foundation you need to build an adult relationship with your child. They act like you’re a moron and don’t know a thing, but the truth is their whole lives they’ve been watching you and counting on you to be their guide.

This is a time when teens start to figure out that you are not, in fact, the world’s greatest lasagna maker, or that their friend’s parents do things really differently. At one time you were their entire world and now they’re exposed to everything and anything and they need to see you in a different light.

That starts with an “I don’t know,” or “I was wrong.” This shows them that you’re fallible and doing the best you can, too. And isn’t that a great message to send to a teen who’s doing the best they can but still struggling every once in a while?

3 | You’re wrong.

Telling your teen that they’re wrong or could do better is a critical message to send to your developing teenager. They are not always right. But it’s not about proving wrong or needing them to have a better attitude about being wrong. It’s about having conversations that are honest. Include lots and lots of #1 – I’m proud of you – but also be honest.

There is no point in sending your soon-to-be-adult into the world believing she or he can literally do anything. Can they achieve their goals? Yes of course! But can they be a pop singer and make millions, not if they can’t sing to save their life! They probably aren’t going to find happiness as an accountant if they really hate math and love being around people all day. Praise them and steer them. Praise what is good (not everything) and steer them somewhere that fits for them (not where you want them to go). They need guidance. Give it. 

4 | I’m listening.

Teens range between talking nonstop and not talking at all. There’s rarely a middle ground – the whole gas pedal but no brakes concept. All or nothing. So when you do get a rare moment of non-stop talking, put down your phone, turn off your computer, hang up, stop whatever you’re doing and listen.

Wait… let me clarify. Whatever you do, don’t act like you are intensely listening. Keep stirring something or doodle on paper, or drive around the block a few more times. The trick to keep them talking is to act like you are only halfway listening. But don’t really be halfway listening or you’ll offend them. They need to know that when they do have a question or thought or idea, you are there and excited to hear what they have to say.

5 | This is all you!

This is your responsibility. This is something you can handle. You got this! Don’t do for your teens. Just like they need to master freshman English speech class and Drivers Ed and ACT/SAT, they need to master life skills and emotional skills. Let them do the life skills; laundry, menu planning, shopping, cleaning, etc. Those are good skills to have.

But what’s so important and seems to have so much less focus than all the other things we just mentioned, is emotional skills. They need to handle drama with friends. They need to follow-up with a teacher or neighbor who’s disappointed in them. They need to call grandma and apologize for forgetting to drop that thing off. They need to cry when something is scary or sad. They need to laugh when something is funny. They need to feel guilt and shame and sorrow and any other tough stuff life throws at them. And it’s really hard as a parent to sit by and watch without fixing. Let them know you are there, and will always be there, but they can handle it.

6 | I love you.

Every day in the world of a teenager is full of emotion and change. They are pedal to the medal all day long. Teens are in constant contact with their world through social media and literally have the world at their fingertips. It’s more important than ever for your teens to know that you are there, are proud of them and growing right along with them, are excited for your next steps in the relationship. And that can all be communicated with the words, “I love you.” So even if they roll their eyes, or pretend they don’t hear you speaking, or respond with a grunt, say it anyway!

Raising teenagers is not an easy job, but you’ve got this and I am proud of you!

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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