This post: 20 Most Stressful Things About Parenting a Teenager
When our kids were babies and toddlers, we thought we were in the midst of the most challenging years as a parent.
The sleepless nights, the temper tantrums, the constant trips to the doctor’s office for everything from a raging ear infection to an unknown rash that even baffled the doctor – we were exhausted to the core – physically, emotionally and mentally.
When we finally made it through those years, we actually looked forward to the teen years. After all, how difficult could it be? By then, our kids would be far more independent, capable of having more grown-up “ish” conversations and God knows teenagers sleep a lot, so at the very least, we’d finally get some much-needed rest.
Little did we know…
A recent study of 1,000 parents of teenagers found 75% think the ages of 13-19 are the most challenging years raising kids, with one in three (32%) admitting they were “unprepared.”
It turns out parenting teenagers isn’t quite the breeze parents thought it would be. In fact, most parents agree, the teen years are throwing them for a loop. According to the study, here are the 20 most stressful things about parenting a teenager.
20 Most Stressful Things About Parenting a Teenager
1. Coping with their Mood Swings
35% of parents claimed that dealing with their teen’s mood swings was the most challenging aspect of parenting. The good news is, as teens get older, research shows that they get a better handle on their ability to control their emotions, conflicts with parents simmer down and they generally learn more adaptive ways to deal with their moods.
2. Helping Them Make Important Life Choices
32% of parents admitted that helping their teens make important life choices stressed them out. What makes the matter even more challenging is that during the teen years, kids have to make countless decisions about school, their friends and their future. However, the part of the brain that controls decision-making doesn’t fully develop until early adulthood, thus, a teen’s developing brain puts them at greater risk of making poor decisions and being less able to consider the consequences of their choices.
3. Allowing Them to Make Their Own Mistakes
Sitting back, holding their tongue, and allowing their teen to make their own mistakes tops the number three stressor on the list for parents (31%). Yet, experts agree it’s a necessary part of a teen’s development. Letting kids learn from their mistakes helps build resilience and is essential to raising confident, capable, happy, and successful young adults.
4. The Fact That They Spend So Much Time on Technology
With 50% of teens admitting they feel addicted to their phone and 71% claiming they spend three (or more) hours a day streaming videos, it’s no wonder this is a major concern for parents.
5. Helping Them Manage Their Emotions
It’s normal for our teen’s minds and bodies to react to the challenges of life. In fact, everyone feels stressed out, angry, frustrated or anxious every now and then. What’s stressful for parents, however, is trying to help their teen manage those emotions so they don’t adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms.
6. Dealing with Hormonal Changes
As a necessary and important part of teens’ physical and sexual development, the surge in hormones takes hold of their body and impacts everything from their emotions and moods to sexual feelings and their behavior. Some parents admit that when their child entered the teen years, it felt as if they were parenting an entirely different child.
7. Helping Them Through Exam Stress
Three in ten parents find it difficult to help their teens through the stress of exams. Two-thirds of parents believe their child reached a point where they felt unable to cope with school, exams, or the pressure of their education. And, those teens who were feeling pressured also became more argumentative (37%) or angry (36%), and 32% lost sleep.
8. Trusting Them to Make Their Own Decisions
Parents agree, that letting go and allowing their teen to make their own decisions contributes to their worry and stress. But experts agree that’s how they learn.
9. Helping Them Plan and Make Decisions About Their Future
Go to college? Join the military? Launch a career? By the time teenagers reach the age of 17, they’re beginning to make big decisions about their future that in many cases, they’re not quite ready to make. With parents jumping in to assist their teens in the decision-making process, it lays the foundation for plenty of sleepless nights and stress.
10. Worrying About Them Doing Well on Their Exams
Getting good grades is the top school worry according to 45% of parents, along with major worry about what happens if their child fails (36%). Over a quarter of parents (27%) believe they are more stressed out about their child’s exams than their teen – with one in five (20%) going as far as saying they have a hard time coping with the stress.
11. Them Wanting More Independence than Parents Want to Give Them
With teenagers fighting for more independence and parents desperately trying to hold on to protect their teens, it oftentimes becomes a heated battle of the will which triggers stress and anxiety in both teens and parents.
12. Helping Them Deal with Their Body Image/Making Them Feel Confident
Considering the vast majority of teen girls experience a 30% drop in self-esteem between the ages of 8 and14, it’s no wonder parents are constantly worried and concerned about ensuring their teen holds a positive self-image. Although boys experience a drop as well, the data shows it’s nothing like what girls experience.
13. Communicating with Them about Sensitive, Tricky or Embarrassing Subjects
When it comes to sensitive subjects, many parents tend to touch lightly on certain subjects, but refrain from diving in deeper. Teens, for instance, don’t want to talk to their parents about sex any more than parents want to broach the subject. But experts are in agreement that no matter how awkward it feels or how reluctant a teen is to talk about it, no subject should be taboo with your teen.
14. Fears About the Impact Social Media Will Have on Them
With their teens on social media hours a day, parents are worried and stressed about the impact it’s having on them. From disruptive sleep and rumor spreading to fake realism and peer pressure, their teen’s heavy use of social media keeps plenty of parents up at night.
15. Worries They Will Be Bullied
Considering nearly 20% of all students ages 12-18 have experienced some form of bullying including cyberbullying, being the subject of rumors/lies, being threatened, being made fun of/insulted, being tripped, pushed or shoved, etc., parents’ concerns and worries about their teen being bullied is justifiable.
16. Guiding Them Through High-Pressure Education
27% of parents think exams are too stressful for teenagers and one in three believe there is too much pressure placed on their teen’s education. Additionally, 29% of parents polled felt powerless to help their teens through exams but did their best to alleviate their stress by simply talking to them, giving them space, making sure other areas of their lives are calm, and ensuring they had a healthy diet.
17. Them Getting into Boys/Girls – Navigating Romantic Relationships
The prospect of their teen beginning to date is unnerving for many parents. The fear of their child getting in too deep, feeling pressured to have sex, being manipulated, or experiencing heartbreak weighs heavy on the minds of parents of teens.
18. Helping Them Cope with the Huge Amount of Schoolwork
Almost half of parents (47%) think the huge amount of schoolwork their teen has impacted their mental health and another 44% believe it has affected their self-confidence.
19. Watching Them (and Helping Them) Learn Who They are as a Person
Every parent’s main goal is to raise a child who is confident with who they are. But there are a lot of driving forces that hold the power to derail teens’ efforts to figure out who they are as a person – and, this causes parents plenty of stress and worry.
20. Worries They Will Do Drugs
By the time kids reach the pre-teen and teen years, parents begin to worry about all the new risks and temptations their teen might be faced with. And, with good reason. Half of all 9th through 12th graders have tried marijuana and 2 in 10 12th graders admitted to using prescription medication without a prescription.’
Of course, this list of the most stressful things about parenting a teenager isn’t all-encompassing. There are plenty of other things parents of teens stress about including their child developing an eating disorder, their child engaging in self-harm, or becoming depressed and rebellious, however, these things top the list.
Regardless of what you’re worried about with your teen, experts agree the trick to allaying your worry and fears is to have frequent honest and open conversations with your teen. Talk to them about everything from their school day and their friends to pornography, drugs and drinking. The more you talk with your teen, the stronger connection you’ll have which can greatly impact your positive influence in their lives.