3) We Listen Way More Than You Realize

I can’t even count how many times I have completely rejected my father’s advice in the midst of an argument, only to sheepishly follow it later when he wasn’t looking. Sometimes, we know you are right, but we aren’t going to accept it until we’ve made absolutely sure that we’re wrong. Again, it’s a time in our life where every idea must stand trial. And we test our own ideas just as thoroughly as we test yours, which is why by the time kids hit their mid-twenties, they are back asking their parents for advice. If you tell us what we want to hear, if you agree with us in an effort to keep us happy, we are going to test those words just the same as if you had disagreed. Be warned: if we find that your suck-up advice was faulty, you and everything you’ve taught us will lose credibility. So always give us real advice; we can handle it much better than you think, and we will receive much more of it than we are willing to let on.

Just realize that every teen possesses the world’s greatest poker face. Your words could be touching the deepest parts of our hearts, but all you’ll get is an indiscernible glare. Again, you have to be the rock, and you have to be secure enough in yourself and your words that you can withstand the full brunt of our apparent apathy. More often than not, we really are listening.

Now Let’s Put It All Together

If you’ve been watching for themes, you’ll have noticed a trend. The answer to reaching your teenager is simply relationship. We want you to be you, and we want you to allow us to be us. If you don’t remember a single thing from this article, remember this: If I know that I can ask you any question at any moment, about anything, without judgment or manipulation, you have completely, unreservedly succeeded 100% at parenting.

As a teenager, I don’t know what to think, but I have reached the age where it is imperative that I think for myself. I need my parents to allow me to think for myself, to offer perspective rather than dictate it. I need my parents to believe in me and to affirm me as I seek to understand for myself what they already know. I need my parents to let me make mistakes (to an extent), because I learn a lot from them. How you respond to my struggles, screw-ups, and random ideas will probably determine whether I constructively learn from them or reach frantically in even more extreme directions. And this affects everything – from driving to dating to career aspirations.

All this to say, if you were a great parent when we were 5, you can be a great parent when we’re 15. Just remember that we are the same kids. We may act different, but the same hearts you connected with when we were much more adorable are still sitting inside, craving connection with your heart. We need you to be the same parents you’ve always been. Understand that we are the one’s changing, because it’s part of our biological development. You, on the other hand, have the opportunity to be our rock, and we value your advice way more than you realize. Ultimately, it all comes down to relationship. If I know you are more interested in loving me than you are in controlling me, I will always come running back to you.

What are your thoughts on parenting? Give us your best tip in the comments below!


  1. I think an important thing to note is that you need to allow your children to make some of their own decisions, and realize the consequences from a much younger age than most parents allow. Little Timmy needs to realize when he’s five that natural consequences exist well before he hits the teen years. Frankly I think this results in more responsible teenagers. I by no means argue that it’s a difficult period of life to grow through, but not all teenagers are out of control rebels. Some of them are very responsible, and a lot of that is because they’ve been handling responsibility their entire lives.

    • That’s a great point. The goal is that strategies and lessons implemented in your child early on will remain intact when they become teenagers. And I think you are correct, if you empower your children to be responsible and allow them to think for themselves and experience consequences, this will produce fruit when they are teens.

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