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Tips on Managing The Teen Mood Swing

When your teenager is grumpy, monosyllabic and irritable, do you find yourself taking it personally, and then, perhaps, even confronting them about it only to find it may have made things worse? Please keep in mind that their grouchiness almost always has nothing to do with you. The answer is to not engage, yet our temptation is to over engage! Here are some tips for staying out of our teenager’s moods and allowing them to get on with the important business of adolescent development:

  • Teenagers are often grumpy simply due to the incredible chemical mix of hormones careening through their bloodstream, not to mention rapid changes to their brain composition. They really can’t help it! Just keeping this in mind can stave off the temptation to take it personally.


6 Painless Ways to Stop Controlling Your Teen

Some parents find it downright liberating when their teenagers become increasingly
independent. Others find it unsettling, even threatening. Parents who crave control of their teenager often discover that allowing their teens to experience the world on their own is terrifying. However, developmentally, it is important to slowly hand over control of your teen’s life…to your teen.
You will always be their parent, but they are looking for – and needing -you to manage less of their day-to-day lives.


Teenagers: Who Are They?

There are many advantages to getting older, and I am actually a big fan of this, my fifth, decade because I can boldly say, “In over 30 years of working with teenagers…” and feel like I finally have the expertise to express opinions without any official statistics. So, here goes: In my 30 years of working with teenagers, I have found they often feel annoyed by their parents’ insistence that they “know them.” There are two themes that run through this resentment. The first is how counter this feels to the adolescent need for privacy and separation from their parents. The second is how rapidly teenagers change their minds, their interests, their direction, their values, their persona, and even their personality.


Teenagers: They are Hardier Than We Think

Our teenagers are hardier than we give them credit for. Hardiness, resilience, grit, and tenacity are qualities we know our teenagers need to possess in order to succeed in a competitive world. But often we act in ways that interrupt the growth of these vital characteristics. When we overreact to the curveballs thrown in everyday life, or over invest in the belief that all things should be fair and just, we are short changing our teenagers from learning the tougher lessons necessary to survive and thrive in a demanding society. Protecting our teenagers from realities, consequences, hurt, and injustices may feel instinctive, but is actually counter to building strong character. The problem is we feel their pain in a profound and overwhelming way, so not only are we trying to protect our teenagers, but we also try mightily to protect ourselves from a whole host of co-dependent feelings. The trick is to focus on our own reactions to their discomfort, let go, and have faith that they will handle their uncomfortable feelings on their own. Here are some tips on doing just that:


The College Storm: How Parents Can Help

No question, our children are precious and we want the best for them. Grades, athletics, community service, and test scores are all important, especially when considering college admission. Important but urgent? Life-or-death? Make or break? No way.

I am the Dean of Students at a competitive independent school where college is most definitely the end point of high school, and not just any college, but a “good” college according to the new experts, Mr. Forbes and Ms. US News and World Report.  I am here to suggest that we, as parents,  need to step back, take a few cleansing breaths, and relax. Anyone who has weathered a real crisis, the kind where you lose your job and have no money in the bank, or the sort that rubs up against near death, or even worse, death, and suddenly worrying about about an SAT score, or an 82 versus a 92, seems like a luxury of the mink coat variety. 

Here are four reasons to encourage the use of perspective when considering your teenager’s high school experience:


Parenting: It’s a Brand New Chapter for the Teen Years

Being needed, wanted, and adored is the parenting trifecta that gets us through the sleepless nights, the relentless demands, and the bodily functions of early childhood.  The helpless dependence, passionate attachment, and jubilant ardor offset the challenges associated with parenting youngsters. Moreover, we are in control. If our child isn’t complying, we usually can “make them.” This sense of control, coupled with those wonderful feelings, define what parenting is typically about before the tween and teen years. 

Even though we all know adolescence is inevitable, we often remain under the delusion that somehow our wonderful parenting or our child’s easy-going disposition will prevent the door slamming, sullen silences, reckless button pushing, poor decision making, and disrespectful dialogue typical of the teenage years. We hope that through studied intervention we will remain in control throughout our child’s at-home years.


Teens Don’t Think Like their Parents, and Parents Don’t Think Like their Teens

As parents, we are often frustrated that our teenagers do not get it. The it in this case is usually some version of adult responsibility or point of view. I am often struck by just how disparate the teenager and adult worlds are, yet, we grown-ups forget what it feels like to be a teen, and at the same time, expect teens to know what it feels like to be an adult, even though they haven’t experienced adulthood yet. Additionally, what drives, motivates, and worries adults is different than what drives, motivates and worries teenagers.


The Cousin Concept: Some Thoughts on Parenting After High School Graduation



Family Photos


Congratulations! You have a high school graduate in the house, and although there is much to be excited about, the teenage years are far from over.

In fact, many parents are surprised to find that they are still raising a teenager, even if their teen is an adult in the eyes of the law and is ready to take on college, a real job, or whatever “grown-up” experience comes after high school.

In order to survive life with your older teenager, expectations of the parent-child relationship will need to shift. Your ability to control their behavior and choices will become increasingly impossible, yet, take heart that the hard work you have done parenting them in years prior will be reflected in how they live out their adult years.

In order to live comfortably with one another, I suggest you consider treating your older teenager and college student like a wonderful, beloved cousin who is spending some extended time in your home. What follows are six examples of the cousin concept and how they might translate into reasonable expectations. (more…)

Tips on Reading a Report Card Without Freaking Out: What to do when your Child isn’t Succeeding in School

Naturally, when our children are in high school, we are focused on academic achievement. After all, grades begin to count for college and parents are abuzz with nervous anticipation about whether or not their child has what it takes to be accepted into a “good” college. However, two issues may arise that create tension for parents and their teens.


How to be a No-Drama Mama (or Papa)

You know the saying, “save the drama for your mama?” Many teenagers do just that. Teens are inclined to vent to their parents, using emotional hyperbole to drive home a point, so we can get a sense of exactly how strongly they are feeling about a subject…in that moment.

Many parents forget the ephemeral nature of the stories, concerns, upsets, and even devastations that their teens share with them. Rather than allowing their teenagers space to vent, they end up getting upset about situations that their child is probably ready to let go of. How can you be an understanding listener without taking on your teenager’s drama?

Here are some ideas to keep your reactions in check:


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