Home » tips on raising teenagers from “in the arena”

tips on raising teenagers from “in the arena”

by Shawni

(and happy NOVEMBER!!!)

Teenagers are confusing.

And frustrating.

And tricky.

But they are also pretty dang awesome.

I wrote this right before we recorded the teenager episode of “In the Arena” that we published last week (a little late posting, and obviously it was back when I had more teenagers in the home…):

I had two interactions with my teenagers last night that I’m still kicking myself about because I don’t think I handled them very well. 

One teenager said a kind of not-very-gracious remark and I got defensive and gave her a lecture. I outlined all the things I’ve been doing for her lately and asked incredulously if she really thought I would do what I had done intentionally. (super mature, right??)

The other started tearing up because the shoes we had ordered together online arrived, and were not the exact ones she had been hoping for (her other beloved shoes had been worn right through to the ground). She’s quite a particular girl and doesn’t do change very well. Once again, (this is within 15 minutes of each other), I got frustrated. Didn’t she realize I was trying my best to help her? 

Of course, these are things that happen all the time as a mother of teenagers. Because we’re human right?

And we get tired.

And frustrated from time to time.

But last night as I lay in bed with Dave I was lamenting about how I had done that all wrong. Of course he reminded me that we’re going to make mistakes all the time. And that is true. But I do think we can work to change our reactions and our intentions little by little as we think and ponder about them.

Since we were going to be recording the podcast that day, these interactions got me thinking about how it was being a teenager in our growing-up family.

Our parents for sure had their weaknesses, but I personally think they were pretty great at raising teenagers.  Why is this? What kind of magic did they work? 

Our dad dished out guilt trips like nobody’s business, (he’s kind of famous for that:), and our mom was often so busy with all the little kids that I don’t remember her sitting with me in the depths of my teenage worries. Maybe these are things that made them so good with teenagers rather than being the things that our society today strives to steer away from?

But in the podcast we go into details about these things:

Tips for Raising Teenagers

Teach teenagers to reach outside of themselves.

In the podcast we talk about how the best thing we can do in raising teenagers is to help them turn their vision outside of themselves. We tell the story of my Grandma Hazel telling my mom to reach outside of herself all those years ago and how it has influenced our family so much. I thought I’d share this picture to go along with that story, can you spot my mother?:

(More about that story back HERE.)

Be a durable object.

I think our parents were really good at this: not getting flustered or too sensitive when we flung our emotions at them. Teenagers are just trying to figure themselves out. Learn to take yourself lightly.

Do your homework…”Get Curious!”

When you really “know” your kids, you can relate to them so much better.

I love so many of the ways our parents did this that we talk about in the podcast, one of my favorites being interviews which we touch on in the podcast but I talk more in detail about back HERE.

Another way to keep yourself aware of your kids and what they’re good at is the “initials on fingertips” thing my dad did:

More about this back HERE.

And isn’t it interesting the time they want to talk the most is when you’re the most tired, in the middle of the night??


But isn’t that the best? Miss those days!

Use less words.

We don’t have to lecture! Sometimes the fewer words the better. In the podcast I tell the story of when my Dad happened to drive by the school parking lot when my friends and I were driving the van a little crazy…tune in to hear that one.

The bottom line is that teenagers, (like everyone else in the world), want to know they matter. This is a time in their lives when they are trying to figure things out. Remember their frontal lobes are still vastly under-mature. They can surprise us one minute and we think, “they are so amazing!” and the next they can be teasing their sibling or pouting about having to do a household chore while their friends are out having the time of their lives.

So, for those of you with teenagers out there, YOU ARE AWESOME!

And so are they 😉

Do me a favor and love them up a little extra for me today!

Remember they’re just learning and growing. Get to know them. Get to know their friends.

Catch them in their sweetness:

And focus on the good things. Do your best to try to ignore the annoying/not-so-great things and they will start to believe the positive things about themselves more than the negative ones.

How do YOU remember what’s most important when you’re frustrated with teenagers? I would love to know.

You can listen to the podcast exploring all this teenager jazz over HERE.

Let us know what you think over HERE!

Other posts on teenagers:

Ten Ways to Manage Pre-Teens

Stages of Motherhood

Bitter/Sweet — From Babies to Teenagers

You may also like


Anne Marie November 1, 2022 - 7:36 am

I am loving these podcasts so much! I love hearing your experiences and thoughts
You asked a question at the end of your post about how to maintain perspective when we’re frustrated with our teenagers. (I have two young adult children and two teenagers). Probably one of the most important things that has helped me with my teens is to keep myself well rested as much as possible (get enough sleep, exercise, meditate, eat right). Easier said than done! And obviously we all have times in our lives when there are extra stresses that push us to our limits, but I consider the sleep of a parent truly sacred and to be protected as much as possible. When I am not exhausted, I respond to my teens from a more balanced, grounded place. My reactivity is lower, and I can see things more clearly. So I have definitely left some activities and pursuits by the wayside through the years, but I feel calmer and have more often been able to act as a refuge instead of one more place in my kids’ lives that is spinning out of control. I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but thanks for the question!
I sure appreciate all the wisdom you and your sisters are sharing!

Shawni November 1, 2022 - 4:59 pm

LOVE this insight, and it’s so true! An exhausted mom doesn’t have nearly as much bandwidth to be able to connect as does a well-rested one! Thank you for sharing!

Amy+Stokes November 12, 2022 - 10:42 pm

I have 2 teens girls, a preteen boy and a toddler girl. My son is by far the most emotional and dramatic! Sometimes it’s hard to imagine him as a full-grown adult because he has so far to go in personal growth, responsibility, and self control. Kids are a work in progress of course- heck, we all are, but I struggle to set aside worry, not sure when I need to step in and guide him through emotions and situations or when to step back and let him figure it out. Always a hard balance, and I so much relate to the late night musings of how it all went wrong that day, how I reacted too much in the moment, or lectured everyone when I didn’t need to.
I haven’t checked out the podcast yet but hope to soon. Thank you for all your generous posts.


Leave a Comment