This post: 4 Things Teenagers Need Every Single Day
Written by: Ali Flynn
Is your teen fickle as anything one minute, calm and collective the next? Adoringly sweet and happy one minute and then, almost out of nowhere, nasty the next? Helpful and considerate one minute, then unobliging and selfish the next?
The back and forth behaviors and emotions of raising our teens are enough to give us emotional whiplash.
The constant state of excitement, blessings, love, and the sheer awe we feel as we capture glimpses of who our kids are becoming, mixed with heaping spoonfuls of frustration, discord, and insecurities (both ours and our teens) can leave us feeling worn out to the absolute core.
Honestly, when our kids become teenagers, sometimes, all we can do is buckle up, hold on tight and brace ourselves for the wild ride ahead.
While raising teens, I have learned many important lessons along the way. Each day, the little humans I raised, who now happen to tower over me, teach me something.
You see friends, raising teens requires a great deal of flexibility, patience, time and lots and lots of listening – not only to what they’re saying verbally, but also to what they’re not saying – to their quiet non-verbal cues – the ones that if you’re paying close attention, often turn out to be the most revealing.
They may have reached full-on puberty, spend countless hours writing college essays and drive around town until there isn’t a drop of gas left in the tank, but their inner child at heart still lives and thrives within their newly grown bodies.
Whether they admit it or not, there are certain things most teens still need and desire even though, at times, it’s awfully hard to decipher in between the eye rolls and heavy sighs.
After countless hours overthinking how to best support and love my teenagers, I have found that these four basic needs still resonate with them, regardless of how old they are. These are things they need to feel cherished, loved, accepted, and valued. Here are 4 things teenagers need every single day.
4 Things Teenagers Need Every Single Day
My teens may not want to be hugged as often as I’d like to wrap my arms around their sweet souls, but they know there are two times each and every day when they have to cave in to their mama’s desire to love on them, even if it is for a mere couple of seconds – before heading out the door and before they go to bed. (If can sneak in a few more hugs throughout the day, I’m doing cartwheels on the front lawn!)
Do they roll their eyes and sigh heavily when they’re rushing out the door not wanting to pause for a quick hug? Sure, sometimes. But they also know it’s part of our routine and one that happens to be very important to me. It’s funny though, I find if I’m busy and not at the door when they leave, they now seek me out before grabbing the car keys.
That brief hug is the inner peace and comfort I need so when they press the car accelerator and leave the safety of home and my arms, they always leave feeling loved.
When our kids were younger, we passed out daily praise like it was candy. So often, however, when our kids become older, we simply overlook or forget how much our kids need to hear our praise.
But let’s be honest. It’s not always easy. My kids are in and out of the house so often in between school, activities and social engagements with friends, some days it’s hard to find one on one time to share how proud I am that they passed that hard test or that they didn’t forget to put their dirty clothes in the laundry. Praising my teen isn’t hard. What is hard is sneaking in those praises when life and our overly busy world gets in the way.
When life gets busy and I can’t share my thoughts or words to boost them up, I rely on little things like texts, quotes and GIFS to remind them of how proud I am of them and that they’re always on my mind and loved.
When my teens were little, I did everything for them. EVER-Y-THING! As they grew older, I slowly pulled back and did far less for them.
Sure, our teens are capable of making their own bed, doing their own laundry and, if they drive, running their own errands. But I realized with my own kids that as their schedules became busier and overloaded with too many responsibilities, if I could do a few small things to lessen their load and take the weight off their shoulders, not only did it make them feel more relieved, it strengthened our relationship.
Maybe it’s doing a load of laundry, so they don’t have to. Maybe it’s running an errand for them that’s been weighing heavy on their mind. Or, maybe it’s a small surprise like having their favorite dessert or snack waiting for them when they walk in the door after school. (Just recently, I surprised my teen by buying them a new water bottle since the old one dropped and broke while lugging their 50-pound backpack through the crowded halls of school.)
Whatever that “little thing” may be for your teen, take notice and lend a hand when they need it. Their cups are overflowing with pressure and stress and it could be that one small thing you do for them that allows them to avoid pouring from an empty cup, but rather proudly pouring what is being filled up.
If you’re anything like my family, we spent countless hours with our children when they were young. But as soon as they hit the teen years, that quality time we looked forward to and cherished dwindled more with each passing year.
As parents, we need to accept one very important truth. Sure, it’s necessary for our teens to branch out, explore and spend time away from home navigating life in a young adult world, but trust me, they also want and need time with us.
Time with your teen doesn’t have to be hours upon hours. In fact, even half an hour can be just enough to fill your teen’s “love” bucket to the brim. Rather than feeling you have to carve out an entire day, grab a few minutes each and every day.
Spend a few minutes with your teen after school, watch a Netflix show together, cook something your teen loves together or go on a hike or even a quick walk around the neighborhood between your teen’s homework assignments. Honestly, whatever you can do to connect with your teen, do it. Put everything aside and cherish this time.
I’ve also found the less expectation I have, the better. If we get through half of a show together, there is always tomorrow. If their friend FaceTimes them while we’re out for coffee, I take a break and step outside to give them space. If plans change and time alone with your teen is abruptly canceled, don’t do what I used to do and freak out (that stresses them out and makes them not want to spend time with you). Rather, simply let them know it’s okay, that you’re flexible and that you can’t wait to spend some time together soon.
I offer you these tips as a mom who sometimes struggles with my teens growing up and leaving their childhoods behind. Through it all, the one thing I’ve learned is that the more I loosen my grip, my world of raising teens runs more smoothly. There is a deeper understanding of their needs and how they too often struggle with the push and pull of holding on, while gently letting go.
From my heart to yours, I hope your journey, while parenting teens, is all you expect and more. You got this!
About Ali Flynn:
Ali Flynn is excited to share with you the joys and hardships of motherhood with an open heart, laughter and some tears. Ali is a monthly guest contributor for Westchester County Moms and has been seen on Filter Free Parents, Grown and Flown, Today Parents, The Mighty, Her View From Home and His View From Home, where she shares inspirational stories about motherhood while keeping it real. You can also find her on Facebook or Instagram.