Two things our teenagers need

I’ve been the mother of a teenager for about five months now. It’s been mostly great, but Alia and I still have our moments. She’s trying to figure out that transition into adulthood, and I’m trying to accept the fact that I now have a daughter who borrows my clothes.

This is my 13-year-old daughter, Alia. (She does like to borrow my clothes, but this dress she is wearing is her own . . . .)

This is my 13-year-old daughter, Alia. (She does like to borrow my clothes, but this dress she is wearing is her own.)

Seriously, though, parenting teens is something I’ve been afraid of for years. Everyone has warned me how hard it would be, and pretty much every teen-related article in the news is full of bad news — studies about violence, drug and alcohol abuse, wild parties … you know what I’m talking about.

But now that I’m officially a mom of a teen, I want to do it right, so I’ve asked my daughter (and now I’m asking our Power of Moms community) to help me.

For starters, I sat down with Alia and asked her to share her initial thoughts on what teenagers need. (We recorded this discussion as a 12-minute podcast below.) Here are her first two pieces of wisdom:

1. We need to give our teenagers extra responsibilities.

I know. This was counterintuitive to me at first. Don’t teenagers want us off their backs?  Don’t they want freedom from responsibility? After all, “You Only Live Once.”

But, no, from my daughter’s perspective, at least, teens don’t want to be treated like children anymore. They want to prove they’re useful and get the chance to do hard things.

In the podcast we recorded, Alia will share some examples of extra responsibilities she enjoys doing. I’ve also included some photos and links in the Show Notes below. (I couldn’t get by without this girl.)

2. We need to know our teenagers better than ever before.

We need to know what frustrates them, what they’re excited about, what kind of music they like, how they like their hair to be and what’s happening with their friends. According to Alia, now is the time this matters — way more than when our children were little.

But what do you do if your teenager doesn’t want to talk with you? Alia shares her ideas on how to make ourselves available, how to be persistent (without being annoying) and how to set up an environment where talking is totally natural.

podcastbuttonClick here to listen to the podcast, “What Teenagers Need.”

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QUESTION:  Do you have any additional ideas to share about what teenagers need?

CHALLENGE: Listen to this podcast with your teenager and find out how he or she feels about these ideas. (This could be a jumping-off place for a great discussion!)

Show Notes:

This is the garden Alia and her dad planted (referenced in the podcast):

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When I had to be out of town, Alia helped put on a birthday party for her 11-year-old sister Grace:

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This is a Popsicle stick sculpture Alia was asked to make for our elementary school’s 100-Mile Club.

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And if you’d like to see some of the product reviews we’re doing on Power of Moms, Alia is now helping with Power of Moms Giveaways.

Music from Creations by Michael R. Hicks.

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