Life with Teenagers: A Few Good Reads

I wrote this post years ago when our children were teenagers:

Life with teenagers can be a tumultuous time. Many parents find themselves navigating through what seems like a myriad of minefields. Being a parent during this time certainly isn’t what it was when they were toddlers. At this pivotal stage, teenagers need their parents to be present.

I am a student of child development and so I read, read and read.  Currently, I am reading Nurturing Your Teenager’s Soul by Mimi Doe.

Of the many books I’ve read, all encourage parents to connect to your children, your spouse and your self.  In this hurry-up-and-go-go society, it is a very challenging thing to do – connect.  And, as my children spring into teen-hood, I’m finding it more and more difficult to connect with them.

However, in this book Mimi suggests acknowledging and accepting disconnection:

“Spiritual practice isn’t about always being connected with Spirit; it’s about continually reconnecting.  We all have moments when our nerves jangle, impatience surges, or we feel low and alone.  Pretending otherwise perpetuates these feelings; acknowledging them diminishes their hold on us.”

I had to read that again and again.  Wow! How true for me right now.  Spiritual practice is about continually REconnecting.  Parenting  is about continually RE-connecting.  I must keep reminding myself of that . . .it reminds me to be present for my kids.  If it didn’t work one minute it will the next.

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Well, what can I say…we have teens in our house and I’m not adjusting to it very well. Our means of communication has changed dramatically. This book offers the following:

  • assures me that this is normal
  • gives me the tools to communicate more effectively (Post It Notes*)
  • reminds me that no matter how well we think we are communicating, we will still have our ups and downs

* Post-it Notes are a wonderful invention! The book simply suggests to use notes (my choice, of course, Post-it Notes) as gentle reminders to pick clothes up off the bathroom floor, take the trash out, feed the dogs, cats, fish etc., or even to arrange some time together. The use of the notes is very non-confrontational, non-nagging and if used with a sense of humor can be a fun way to communicate with your teen:

  • “OMG, how long must we (the clothes) lay on the gross bathroom floor!”
  • “I’m going to melt if I’m not put back in the fridge.”
  •  “I’d like your company while fixing dinner!”
  • “The cleaning fairy has died (gone on vacation, is on strike etc.). Please pick up your____.”

Wonderful Ways to Love A Teen . . . even when it seems impossible by Judy Ford 

Short and sweet.
Neat little things a parent can do to connect with their distant teen.
So far the best advice I’ve read is:

  • “Teenagers often resist OVERT attempts to have “quality time”.
  • “Take every opportunity to hang out . . .it can happen in the backyard, the kitchen, or the car.  It can be a few minutes . . .or an entire day.” 
  • “The key is to DROP EXPECTATIONS, roles, rules and notions about what is supposed to happen.”


Between Form and Freedom: A practical guide for the teenage years by Betty Staley reassures me that what we are going through as a family with teens is normal and we are trying to do all the right things; being patient, loving, flexible, forgiving, supportive. Betty points out, interestingly so, that teenagers spend hours upon hours in their rooms not because they don’t want to be with the family but rather the teenager is working on his or her inner self, oscillating between childhood and adulthood. There is an inner challenge where the teen tries to balance his feelings and emotions with their emerging identity. Their newer awareness of themselves in relation to the world begins to move to the forefront of their consciousness. To paraphrase the author, ‘teens lose the world to find themselves’. Thus, a reason most teens seem withdrawn from the family. Teens are searching among their physical world and their spiritual world feeling pulled in both directions which can cause great tension within themselves and not to mention within the family too.

“They need to move inward, to offer the world something of value requires time for introspection.” says Betty. This move inward may be mistakenly seen as rejection, aloofness and tempermentalness. It is difficult not to take this personally. Moving inward and given space to reflect, question, explore points of view, wonder, read, draw, listen to music all “offer the young person an opportunity to enter into a dialogue with his own soul. Such dialogue is the furnace in which ideals are forged.” Teenagers are in a stage between form and freedom.

For more parenting books check out my post: Books! Oldies but Goodies