If you’re here, then you must have a teenager in your life. Loving a teen is wonderful, challenging, frustrating, and often super exhausting. There are a few things that you need to know if you love a teenager.
Hang in there! Know that you can do this!
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Your teen won’t always like you back.
Hello, welcome to hell! Not always, but many days it feels like this to many of us.
Anger is an easy emotion for teens to (not) manage, and they will always hurt the ones they love the most. They know we aren’t going anywhere, so eye-rolling, horrible tone of voice, and slamming doors are all too common many days.
Remember that they are dealing with raging hormones, stress at school, and many social issues that are confusing. *This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.
You cannot take it personally.
This goes right along with your teen not liking you right now. Develop a thick skin because you will need it for the next few years. It is really hard not to get your feelings hurt by the things that your teen says and does. Eventually, you will both come out on the other side.
Do not hold grudges. Half of the time your teen won’t even remember being an a%#@*&%. The other half of the time they will wonder why we are so upset with them—seriously?!!
This is by far the hardest thing to know if you love a teenager in my opinion.
Don’t assume that you know anything about their life.
Even though we were once teenagers ourselves, it is different now. There is some similarity, for instance, the emotions, but that is pretty much where any likeness ends.
Because of social media, everything else in our kids’ lives is very different than our teenage lives were.
Choose your battles.
This is really hard especially if you like to be in control. I know I struggle with this! The moods of a teen are unpredictable to say the least. Be prepared for anything, and, for me, I know lots of deep breaths are helpful–but be sure to take these breaths quietly or you will offend your teen even more!
If you can ignore something without losing your authority, then let it go. I have gotten really good at pretending not to hear some things. But, again, be careful, because if your teen thinks that you are ignoring them, that can really annoy them to no end. Also, try not to nag…
Parenting a teen is like walking a razor blade embedded tightrope. Be super careful!
Do not pressure them to perform.
Witnessing parents who are really hard on their kids is very uncomfortable. This is something that we have seen so many times over the years. It is difficult to watch, and I am sure for those teens, really hard to live through.
Of course, your teen should try to do their best. They should always strive to do better. But, not being “the best” at something is totally normal, and being normal is very okay. If they are participating, happy, involved, and have good relationships then they are more than okay-they are doing great!
Be physically available.
This is so important! Even if you just had a fight. Even if you both just totally lost it about something really stupid, they still need to know you are around and available. I still hug my boys every chance that I get. Sometimes I have to put their arms around my waist and ask for them to hold on, but I will take what I can get!
Tonight, my gangly almost fifteen year old was restless on the couch. I asked if he would cuddle for a few minutes. Guess what?! He came over and crawled under my blanket for almost 30 minutes! It was the best, especially since most of them time when I ask, the answer is a strongly worded no.
Build a support system.
This one is for you! Find your tribe. Find those people in your life that are in the same boat, or maybe even a little ahead of you on their parenting journey. Find someone who will lift you up, listen to your current woes, and tell you that it will be all right. It might be another mom that you can grab a coffee with or a friend from college that you text and call all the time.
My four besties/roommates from college have been my support system for years. Hardly a day passes that one of us doesn’t throw something out into our group message, and I am so much better for these connections.
Loving a teen definitely has its ups and downs.
Hang in there. Give you teen space and time to figure things out. Give yourself grace, and know that this too shall pass! You got through the toddler years and potty training and you can definitely get through this. I think mothering teens is harder than mothering a toddler, although at the time, toddlers seem so hard!
The early teen years are the hardest, so set your rules and know that they will push against them and rebel in big and small ways. That’s their job. Your job is to stand firm.
Take lots of deep breaths and count to 100 if you need to. Know that many other parents are going through the same thing right now, so find someone that you can relate to and support. These are just a few things to know if you love a teenager!
Make reading happen in your home with great books for teens!
I haven’t written a book post in awhile, and boy do I have some good ones for this post! This is a list of the books that I have read in the past few months. There are so many great books for teens and their parents!
If you get the Parenting High Schoolers newsletter, then you know I have gone back into the classroom. I have immersed myself in young adult literature, and I am in heaven! Some of these are books that I have read for school, and others on my own.
I recently read about a book festival that Iceland celebrates in December. It sounds like the perfect night for me! It’s called Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood.
This holiday happens each year and is celebrated because the people in Iceland consider a book to be the best Christmas present that they can get. Maybe it’s time to start this holiday in the US! Get one or more of these great books for teens (and you!) and cuddle up for a long winter’s night!
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Get your kids to read at home regularly.
One thing that I will say as the mother of boys and teens in particular, is that you can get them to read. Start early when they are young if possible. It will make so much difference to their future. In fact, experts say that by reading an average of five books a day to your child before they enter school, they will have a million word advantage over those kids who aren’t so blessed.
Younger kids and reading
In elementary school, there are many classroom activities for kids to keep reading. One thing that I would recommend is to set a reading time at home for all of your school age kids to read together, including parents- they need to see you reading! Make a snack, a reading fort, or any other fun addition to this activity-especially for boys, who can oftentimes be reluctant readers.
Teens and reading
As your kids become tweens and teens, there are many distractions to them reading at home. Their activities increase, there is now social media to compete with, and it’s just not cool… Don’t despair! Don’t let these things change the way you are doing things in your own home. You need to stand firm against all of this to keep any sort of family time anyway, and reading should still be a priority.
Reading is the number one indicator of testing success in their future. Do your research, find books that your child/teen is interested. Give books as gifts, and hold your children in your lap for as long as they will let you for reading time-it makes the entire experience better for both you and your little one.
Read out loud to your kids/teens
You might think that reading together ends when your kids get older in middle school and high school. Here’s the thing, they might grouse about it, but they secretly LOVE it! In my middle school classroom, we start each period with our read-aloud book. They are so into it!
At first, my students complained, but guess what? I was in charge of the book I picked to read for each class. I chose high interest, complex stories, and they are very upset when we miss a day due to an assembly or some other issue. They beg me to keep reading even when our five minutes is up, and I need to actually start the lesson for the day.
Don’t let your cool tween/teen fool you! They still love a good story, so insist upon reading aloud to teens, both at home or in your classroom, if that’s where you encounter teens. There are so many great books for teens that this shouldn’t be a problem!
How much time is enough?
Schedules are hectic, and our teens have sports, jobs, homework, you name it. Here’s the thing. This doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. Set aside five minutes each evening if that’s all you have. That’s all I can give up in my classroom, and believe me, it’s enough! If you have time, then read longer.
Just do it! You and your kids will both love the time together, and with all the great books for teens available out there, it shouldn’t be a problem. Start with a genre that you know your teen will enjoy, and expand from there. *This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.
Here is a story about friendships, family, and a mystery to boot. Pearl and her mom, Mia, move to a new town, and they rent a townhouse from Elena Richardson, a seemingly perfect mom with a seemingly perfect family.
There are four Richardson teens who are all completely different from one another, and each begin their own relationship with both Pearl and Mia. There are twists and turns throughout the story with all sorts of complications that layer on top of each other concerning all of the teens and the two mothers.
The story spirals around and around until a final event which changes everything. Hang on for a great ride. This book would be good for older teens and adults.
This is the first book in a five book dystology. The story is amazing and freaky all at the same time. It follows three teens who are scheduled for “unwinding” which is a process of using all a person’s body parts for transplant into other people’s bodies.
After the Second Civil War, where the The Bill of Life is written to make all sides happy. Children between the ages of 13 and 18 can be unwound by their parents. It’s an eerie and realistic premise for a book.
Read to find out why these kids are supposed to be unwound and what happens along the way as they try to avoid this fate. This book is twisted and I could not put it down. This is a great book for teens-and I personally cannot wait to read more of the series.
Haley has been adopted from China. She loves her family, but she wonders about her roots. Back in China, Li-yan wonders about the daughter that she gave up long ago.
Li-yan is from a back hills tribe in China, and until she is a teen, her village has never had contact with the outside world. A chain of events occurs that sends her out into that world with life-changing results. She manages to survive by her wits and knowledge of tea, which is a complex and intriguing world.
Haley comes to her American family with a tea cake as her only possession as an infant. That tea cake will influence her choices all through school and into her future.
The story follows these two characters, and the result is such a great story! Good for older teens and adults.
I don’t typically love memoirs, but this is a great one. I loved watching the Little House series when I was younger. To be honest, I still love an occasional rerun when I am cooking! This book is hilarious.
The back stories that Arngrim tells about playing Nellie, being friends with Melissa Gilbert (Laura), and being enemies with Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary) is so much fun to read. Did you know that Michael Landon never wore underwear while the show was filmed?
She also shares stories about growing up in Hollywood, which is a whole other interesting saga.
If you ever watched this show, especially back when it was really on t.v., you should put this on your list. Good for anyone, but more likely to be loved by those who grew up with Laura, Mary and Nellie!
This book is very different. These are a number of interwoven stories of people whose lives are connected to the trees around them. It’s a story about people, but also the way we are influenced and affected by the flora and fauna in our vicinities.
It’s really hard to explain, but you will be immediately love the people and the trees in their lives.
Wow is all I can say about this one. This was a heart-wrenching story about a young woman, Tara, who has to fight for everything she gets in her horrible life. At the age of 17, she is finally able to get herself to school. Tara has been brought up by crazy, survivalist parents, and they have completely cut her off from what we would consider the “real” world.
As a reader privileged enough to encounter this book, I realized just how blessed I was to have a “normal” upbringing, and access to school and books my whole life! Read this if you have not had the pleasure, and you will know that your life has been blessed as well. Great book for older teens and adults.
And, what a role model this woman is for anyone who takes education for granted…
I am NOT a lover of superheroes. But, I will say that this version has me reconsidering. In this modern rewrite of the classic Superman story, de la Peña creates a really believable version of Clark Kent as a high school senior. There are many familiar characters from previous versions, but some new ones as well.
Clark is coming into his powers as an older teen. Some of his powers have been around for awhile, but some are new or are gaining strength in new and unusual ways.
There are many mysteries surrounding a mega-business in Smallville and the Mexican-American residents in the local community. As Clark and his best friend, Lana, start digging around, they get deeper and deeper into some serious trouble. This book was a fun read!
My non-reading middle son still says this is his favorite book that he read in junior high. I now know why. After assigning it to a group at school, I finally read it, and this was a great book for teens!
The compound is an underground shelter where a family has taken refuge from a cataclysmic event that happened six years ago. There are several things starting to go wrong, and Eli is increasingly unhappy.
As Eli starts to question some things in their home, he begins to wonder if they are even safe in the shelter. What can he do? Is it possible to survive anywhere?
My students and I count this as a great book for teens! Here is the sequel! Good for 12+.
I could not put down this book! Gratz is an author that I see my middle schoolers read over and over in class, and now I see why! He writes a realistic version of many high tension situations.
The premise of this story is that Kamren, a senior in high school who has it all, finds out that his brother is a terrorist. He and his family find this out, along with the rest of the world while watching the news on t.v.
As soon as this happens, Kamren’s life completely falls apart in every possible way. The one thing he knows for sure is that his brother, Darius, is innocent. He sets out to prove it which is very difficult to say the least.
Hang on for a very suspenseful and exciting ride. The obstacles that Kamren must overcome are numerous and it is difficult for him to know who to trust. The students who chose this book in my class loved it! I am in the middle of his newest book, Refugee, which is amazing so far as well. Great book for teens.
Kate has traveled back to her family’s vineyard in France to study for the Master of Wine exam. This is a huge test based on multiple levels of wine knowledge.
Of course, she learns a lot more than info for her exam. Plus, bonus, she runs into an old flame. She also discovers an old diary while cleaning out the cellar with her cousin’s wife, who is actually an old school mate of hers.
All of this is a perfect combination to make a great read. So, grab a glass of wine and curl up by the fire and enjoy!
I almost had to stop reading this because I got so mad. Talk about a mind twist! Jessica is trying to make extra money to help out her parents. She takes a psychological exam under false pretenses for money.
Because of her interesting answers, she becomes involved with the doctor running the test, but not in the way that you might think. I had just read The Silent Patient, which was a little much all together.
If you like thrillers with a twist, then this is the book for you! For older teens and adults.
Such a sweet story. A young girl moves south to her mother’s hometown in ’60’s. She has a younger brother who is deaf and a dad who is out of the picture that she is desperately missing. She suffers through the move, which includes finding out that her grandma isn’t well, and her mom having to get a job.
Their neighbor is an elderly woman who needs some help with her dog. A friendship begins between the neighbor woman and the girl that is funny and sweet and wonderful at once! All ages would love this!
Talk about a psychological thriller. Not scary, but suspenseful and intriguing. A doctor who is interested in a patient gets the opportunity to be her psychotherapist. The one main problem with helping her is that she won’t speak.
She has been convicted of the murder of her husband, and she is now in a home for psych criminals. There are twists and turns throughout the story. I really enjoyed this book! Great book for older teens or adults.
Enjoy reading great books for teens! Many of these books are great for anyone.
I hope that you enjoy some of these books for you and your teens. I love teaching middle school and enjoy the opportunity to help my students get to choose good books to read.
There are so many great books for teens to read, so don’t give up on trying to have a reading time at your house, even for teens. And, enjoy some time to read aloud even with your older kids!
*I’m in the process of reading U Thrive: How to Succeed in College (and Life) written by Daniel Lerner and Alan Schlechter, MD. They teach a course at NYU on the “Science of Happiness” which is one of the most sought after courses on campus. Their book is chock full of positive parenting techniques!
It’s a “how to” guide for thriving in college and beyond. I think that it will also help me improve my parenting techniques, a win-win! *This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.
Yes, positive psychology is all around us and it’s probably because our culture is thirsty for it. But, let me say, by page 30, I was hooked. This book really should be used in our schools. But, schools don’t really have a class on how to be happy, so it falls on us, the parents to teach them how to make choices that will improve their mindset.
(This was written by my former blog partner, Ann, so don’t get confused when she mentions a daughter!)
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Parenting is hard!
As you know, parenting is the hardest job ever and there is no real “how to” book. So, even though this book is focusing on thriving in college, it is definitely transferable to parenting. While reading, I thought to myself, “I wish I knew this when I was my kids were younger”.
Wait I still can! Even though my kids are 22, 19, and 15, and I’m in my mid-50’s, I can honestly say, this book can really help everyone, no matter what stage of life you’re in. I don’t think it’s ever too late to be better at your relationships.
As I read this book, I’ll let you know my “takeaways”! Here’s are the first 5 positive parenting techniques from Chapter 1.
Raise your mood before every opportunity or challenge by thinking about something positive for 30 seconds. I told my daughter, Kelly, to try this before taking her tests during finals week.
She looked at me kinda weird and asked me why? I quoted from pg. 18 “Positive emotions prime you to perform your best”. In the book, they continue, “Good feelings are a fantastic learning aid: they help you retain more information and stay on the ball in group discussions; they improve your test scores and your grades; they boost resilience and help you deal with stress more effectively”.
So Kelly tried it, she thought of a funny memory that made her laugh and thought about it before she took a test. Kelly told me, “It was so much easier, I wasn’t focusing on how hard it was going to be. I just breezed through it. And it felt good!”
The end result- she got a B on her math test. It worked.
Focus on the Good!
Tell your kids 3 things they did well and 3 places to grow (or less according to Kelly). In the book, they detail a story of a student who only heard negative feedback from his theatre professor. The student had a hard time believing in anything he was doing well. He had lost his confidence.
Lerner and Schlecter (authors of the book), suggested to the student to ask his teacher to tell him what he was doing right. The professor agreed to do this. The student then started his own peer group to share feedback together on 3 things they were doing well and 3 things they each needed to work on.
Hmm. Could I do this as a parent? Sure, and would have, but I can tell you I didn’t. I was always asking my girls, “Hey did you do this?” I was focused on what they may have missed not what they did well.
Ugh. I had focused on what they could have done better, which unfortunately doesn’t recognize what they were/are doing well.
My takeaway on this is no matter where you are in your parenting journey, focus on 3 good things and according to my daughter only 1 or 2 things where they can grow. Much better parenting technique! Also, better message for our kids!
Write Down Why You’re Grateful
Write down daily what you’re grateful for and why they matter. The theory behind the gratitude journal is it “qualifies” your positive emotions which can translate to higher GPA, better social relationships, better sleep and less depression.
When you make a habit to scan for the good things during your day, it rewires your brain. So keep a journal or a gratitude jar and slips of paper next to your bed. Write down 3 things that bring joy that day and put them in the jar.
This is what I do, and I’m looking forward to seeing to the end of the year when I can reflect on all the things that brought me happiness.
Perform Random Acts of Kindnessconsciously (pg. 29)- A little difference here is that you are thinking about what you can do nice for someone else AHEAD of time. This act gives you a boost of happiness that can last for months.
It isn’t so much about being proud of yourself as it is to focus on how it made you feel- ask yourself, “What did I do today that was kind and how did it feel?” Replay the scene in your head.
What Makes You Happy?
Pay attention to what makes you happy. This is such a great idea! We can all do this, but for those of you with younger teens, ask them what they’re interested in. This is a crucial step in figuring out a potential career. Have them experiment with different classes, extra-curricular activities or even job shadow.
For us moms, it’s never too late to pay attention to what lights you up. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to start a blog. I have a B.A. in Communications and never did anything with it. This blog allows me to rekindle my skills and learn how it’s done today.
So what makes you happy? What makes you feel good or what activities do participate in that you don’t even notice that time has passed? Take the time to really think about this, and try to add something into your day that will make you smile. It will make you happier, AND improve your parenting techniques!