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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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Ah, back to school time. The excitement of a new year for our kids and the impossibly busy schedule for their mamas. Anyone else get to the end of the day and think, "What did I even DOOO today, and why am I so exhausted?" 🙋

Luckily, finding a system to help you plan out your days can help reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life—which we are all for.

Here are eight planners we love that'll quickly take you from "What is happening?!" to "Look what I did!"

1. Day Designer

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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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A new school year is looming and while a lot of parents are looking forward to seeing their kids take the next steps in their education, many of us are not looking forward to getting everyone back into a weekday morning routine.

Mornings can be tough for kids and their mamas. One of our favorite celebrity mamas, Kristen Bell, does not deny that mornings with her daughters, 5-year-old Lincoln and 3-year-old Delta, aren't easy at all.

"It's miserable," Bell recently told POPSUGAR. "It's awful no matter who's doing what. And I'll tell you right now, the 3- and 5-year-old aren't doing jack."

Anyone who has ever tried to wrangle a preschooler out of their pajamas, to the breakfast table, then into their school clothes and backpack at seven o'clock in the morning knows exactly what Bell is talking about. She says some days are better than others, but it's hard to know what level of kid-induced chaos you're gonna wake up to on a weekday.

"It depends on their emotional stability, it depends on their attitude toward each other, toward life," Bell told POPSUGAR. "It depends on their developmental stage."

Luckily, Bell has got some backup. She's been open about how she and her husband, Dax Shepard, practice a tag team approach to parenting, and sometimes, Bell gets a chance to tap out of the morning routine. Unfortunately, Shepherd's later schedule means it doesn't happen as often as she would necessarily like.

"I don't want to say that I do more mornings than he does, but if you were to check the records, that's probably what you'd find," she told POPSUGAR.

If, like Bell, you're really not feeling mornings with the kids, there are a few things you can try to make things a little easier on yourself, mama.

1. Change the conversation

Instead of saying "hurry up" or "get in the car, right now,"try to mix up your vocabulary a bit.

If there's a need for speed, remind the kids that it's time for "fast feet" or that you're racing to the car.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, you might consider sharing that with your kids. Let them know that mama's got a lot to do this morning and that it would be a huge help if they could make sure their water bottle is in their backpack.

2. Make breakfast ahead of time

If cereal isn't your jam or your kids need something hotter, and more substantial in the morning, cooking up breakfast can be a major hurdle on hectic mornings.

Check out these Pinterest perfect make-ahead morning meals, like breakfast enchiladas or egg muffins, and make mornings a bit easier on yourself, mama.

3. Bring some Montessori into your mornings

Help your kids take control of their AM destiny by bringing some limited choices (like clothing) into the morning routine and allowing for natural consequences (like having to settle for an apple in the van because they missed breakfast) but also allowing for fun with mom.

"Try doing something simple, with clear boundaries, such as reading two books before it's time to start the morning routine. If they're ready early, you can spend more time together, which is also a great natural incentive," writes Montessori expert Christina Clemer.

Here's to a less stressful AM routine for Kristen Bell and the rest of us mamas. Just because it feels miserable today doesn't mean it will be tomorrow. There is hope, Kristen!

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It was a year ago when I was pregnant, parenting a highly-spirited preschooler and also working a full-time job while trying to maintain a part-time side business when I got to the point of I have had enough.

I can't remember exactly what the trigger was, but like most times, it wasn't just one thing but a build-up over time that culminates in a massive meltdown.

You see, I was not getting much appreciation or validation for all of my contributions. This was a time when my partner, too, was working full-time and in graduate school two evenings a week. It was stressful for everyone, but, as the wife and mother, I carried the family through it by tending to the little details: the pick-up and drop-offs, the shopping, the cooking, all the minutiae of everyday life.

So, after perseverating on my laundry list of seen and unseen responsibilities, I decided to sit down with pen and paper and make a "day in the life" list from wake-up to bedtime that showed my partner exactly what my day entailed—a day that supported two other people in the house and one in the oven.

Even I was surprised to see all of the things listed out in 15-minute increments. On paper, it actually looked even worse than it felt. I thought to myself about how much physical, mental and emotional energy I expend in this hectic season of our lives. And I didn't regret it for a minute.

However, back to my original complaint…I still wanted to be validated for it. I needed to be seen for both the implicit and explicit tasks and expectations in my day-to-day.

So I handed my list over to my husband, expecting him to be awakened to the fact I was indeed working in overdrive and for him to be grateful for all the ways that I take so many burdens off of him so that he can be successful in school and his career.

Instead of that, his response almost put me into a state of shock. He read over the list and then said, "I know. You are Superwoman."

His words, like kryptonite, left me speechless. Part of me knew that his intent was for this to be a compliment, but it felt so invalidating. It completely missed the mark, and instead of leaving me feeling appreciated, I felt less understood.

Superheroes have innate superpowers that I imagine they use with ease. In fact, they are expected to use their powers and perhaps that is their sole purpose. No one ever looks to a superhero and asks, "Do you need a break?" And as a feminist, I sure as heck believe women are strong and powerful. But the idea of being labeled a "superwoman" did not feel empowering.

I already know I am efficient, capable, strong and fierce. But, I am also fatigued, sometimes overworked and underappreciated, and worst of all expected to be the one that keeps it together for everyone else.

What I learned about through my research of who Superwoman really is was this: her powers always wear off by the end of the story. Turns out these so-called "superpowers" really are temporary. That I can relate to.

I am only human and there are days and weeks where I feel on top of the world, days where I can manage it all with ease. I can be up all night nursing a baby, take both kids to school, and show up on time for a 9:00 am meeting with a French pastry I baked from scratch. I can push through the exhaustion and demands every day…until I can't.

And it's not just my spouse who uses this label. I have well-meaning girlfriends who have also tossed the term out there as if it was meant to be a feather in my cap.

When things get tough, I appreciate the texts of support my girlfriends send me. Even when they are far away, it's nice to know someone cares when everyone in your house has the stomach flu while your partner is out of the country. It's comforting to be able to share the ups and downs of trying to balance a career with a growing family.

But when the text comes in and says something like, "I don't know how you do all that. You are a supermom!" I feel like there should be an auto-reply that says, "Connection lost."

The thing is, I don't want to be elevated to superhero status for living my life. It is not heroic and it's probably not too far off from what every other devoted partner and mother provides their family. But, this is what I think we need, what we are starving for. We need someone to say, "How are you doing?" or, "What have you done lately to care for yourself?" or, "Thank you for all that you do and who you are."

Those are the kinds of words that let me know I am seen and make me feel validated when I am working the hardest. They let me know that the people I love the most see me, and not a cape.

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