Hello, and welcome to Talking Teens with Jo Bainbridge
My name is Jo and I have three teenagers. I have slightly more grey hair than before, and I have noticed a little tic lately, but overall I think I'm doing ok! Parenting teens is piss easy, didn't you know that? Well, maybe not; but it isn’t as bad as many think.
Lack of helpful information... One of the biggest challenges for parenting teenagers is the lack of helpful information out there. The tidal wave of information available to parents of babies and young kids has dried up by the time our kids are approaching 10! As a parent of teenagers you are on your own! Sure there are some great support resources for serious concerns like drugs, mental health and so on, but what about normal day-to-day living advice and support?
Teenagers are awesome... Parenting teens was the bit I was excited about the most as a parent. I think teenagers are awesome!
Sure, they are frustrating, infuriating and often confusing, but they also have far more to offer than we give them credit for. It breaks my heart when I hear parents saying they dread the teen stage! I want to challenge parents to think differently and perhaps take on some accountability for the challenges of teenagers.
It can be an isolating stage for parents... There are times where we find ourselves lonely, bewildered and confused as to what is happening. We often resort to what we know when we are unable to access quality information, and so it is with little surprise that we resort to our most vivid memory of what parenting teens involves: when we were teens. That, in my mind, is not necessarily a great thing. The problem is we know what we did as a teen and so we project that onto our own children! The parenting technique we were brought up with: 'do as I say not as I do’ is not suited to the current generation of teenagers, or parents for that matter.
Based on real life experiences...Talking Teens is designed to share my musings on trends and topics related to teenagers. I base it on real life experiences and may hopefully challenge some norms, and make you giggle along the way. Do I have all the answers? Certainly not. I am not a sales person and have no gimmick ‘secret’ to sell you. What I offer is realism and a space where parents can get support before things get overwhelming.
But where is the 'big stuff'?
Talking Teens is not solely focused on 'the big stuff' - SEX, DRUGS, DEPRESSION and so on. It is not that these are not very real concerns for parents, but I believe these things are symptomatic of other things like communication, trust, growth, exploration, identity and so on. One of my key points with Talking Teens is to challenge parents to address the 'big ones' with a broader perspective and to look beyond just the behaviours. I will certainly cover the 'big ones' as they are important, however, I am not focusing on just the activity but the rationale behind it. I hope you enjoy the mind stretch! There are some great support and resources out there that I can point in towards if you really need some heavy duty support x
What I believe:
We bring baggage into this stage. Baggage such as our own experiences as teens and the ways in
which our parents dealt with us during that time. Baggage can be years of dread: how many times
have you looked at your four-year-old daughter asserting herself and thought “Oh god, what
is she going to be like as a teenager?!” Baggage such as a standard belief that teens are 'terrible'.
The baggage we carry changes OUR behaviour. It is not just the teenager who is going through a 'stage’. The supportive, nurturing parent suddenly (and often without just cause) starts to think their darling is doing 'who knows what' and must be wrapped in cotton wool immediately or locked in a cage.
Teens need their friends, and that might drive us crazy at times: what do you mean 16 year old Steph knows more than me? Our role as parents needs to back off from the authoritative director role to
more of role model. We need to practice what we preach. Yes, they still need guidance, but they also need to be trusted and be able to trust. That won’t happen if you position yourself as the know it all.
Teenagers are awesome. You will hear me say this – a LOT. We need to give them more credit and
treat them like the adults in training they are; not the sulky and defiant cliché we all know. We panic about things they are exposed to, assuming they are naive and at risk, whereas they generally know
how to deal with things much better than us. We didn’t put in all that work from birth to 10 to raise
ignorant people did we? Time to start giving credit to them, and to the way you raised them.
It won’t be easy. But no stage of parenting is. The difference with this stage is that as parents our mistakes are witnessed and we are vulnerable to not getting it right. When they were younger, if you made a bad call they didn’t really notice, but teenagers are different; they know more and will pull
you up on it. It could even be a game-changer. They will test you and push you as they wade their
way through; not always getting it right. But neither will we.
Lastly I believe this is the payoff stage. After all that hard work raising the children, you can now sit
back and enjoy conversation, insight, humour, new and exciting things, a refreshed view of the world through their eyes (before the world becomes a big bad place) and you also get some time to yourself. Conversely, this could also be the stage where the years of treating your daughter like a princess and reinforcing the importance of beauty have repercussions, and you discover your daughter has unhealthy expectations of body image.
How is the Talking Teens website structured?
From what I have experienced and from talking to other parents, I have a few core 'themes' that stand out as areas of concern and confusion for parents. There are probably a million other things to explore, but these are good round basecamps to start with. Understanding ages and stages, building on strong communications are key things that help with all the common teenage issues.
You are encouraged to see if there are some familiar concerns or thoughts about a topic. I encourage you to explore the things that worry you and digest some different points of view and hopefully become less fearful of that issue. Or better still, be prepared to face that issue armed with greater insight and maybe the trip won’t result in a fall (no promises)! It may challenge you to think differently about that topic and that is a good thing!
Talking Teens also allows groups of parents to come together to have a chat. It is not easy to talk about issues, concerns and problems in our personal circle of friends and so it can often be a lonely place to find yourself. Knowing others are going through the same things as you can be what gets us through. Remember going to the new mums' group where we all shared the reality of no sleep and the very real acknowledgement that we had no idea what we were doing! Talking Teens offers the teen version.
Perhaps you want some one-on-one time where you can explore a particular concern and how to best go about dealing with it? Talking Teens offers what is essentially parent coaching; like business coaching! It's about helping you to not just get through the teenage stage, but to really enjoy it and see these amazing human beings in a different light; a light that shows them as positive and aware people who deserve far more credit than they are given. Teens are awesome x
So enjoy the website, explore and contemplate. Please feel welcome to contact me directly. This is a new concept, so if there is something you are after that is not present, let me know! The important thing for me is that parents of teens have somewhere to go to pose the question…WTF?
love Jo xx