Raising Teens

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The Day I Switched Cell Phones With My Teenage Son

Teenagers using cellphones

Teenagers using cell phones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was dropping my son at school yesterday when he realized he left his cell phone at home. Tragedy! Big tragedy!

I told him he would make it through the day without his phone, but he explained that his AP History teacher gives extra credit points to students who put their phones in her basket when they enter the classroom.

“Please, let me use your phone today,” he begged.

“I will let you use mine, but I need to use yours,” I told him. So, we made a deal and he provided me his password to unlock his phone. “What a bonanza!  I legitimately had completely access to his phone!”

As soon as I picked it up and unlocked it, the phone already was buzzing and pinging with incoming messages.  Let me just say that my day quickly turned into a learning experience about teen cell phone useage, particularly what teens talk about and what goes on in high school.

First, my son received a text invitation to a birthday party. It was pretty high tech with lots of pop ups. I was impressed!

Next, he received a series of complaints about various teachers. Boy, kids complain about teachers A LOT! They complain about everything from their appearances to their demeanors to their attitudes to their fairness. I decided I don’t want to be a high school teacher.

From the messages that followed, I learned who made a new twitter account, who posted something funny to Instagram and who had made an awful musical.ly video. It made me wonder if teens can make it through a day without social media? Probably not.

What really cracked me up were the group texts. They had such hilarious names like APaulaDeen and FrackiesPlus2.  One clever message poster call himself Lord Farquaad, after the villain in Shrek, and had a lot to say about who he considered as hot as Princess Fiona.  Teens are quite creative and funny in group texts.  They also are busy posting all day long — even when they’re supposed to be participating in class.  I began to understand why my son’s  teacher had enticed her students to leave their phones in a box at the door.

I also learned  from text messages that teens are pretty helpful to each other as far as sharing info about homework assignments and what chapters the next day’s quiz is going to include. I started wishing we had cell phones when I was in high school.

On the flip side, my son saw all my text messages coming in. I’m sure he found them boring compared to his. Meanwhile, I couldn’t call anyone all day because I don’t have any cell numbers memorized. I realized I rely way too much on my contact list.

Still, I enjoyed a peek into the teen life — even if it was just for a day. I only can imagine what I would have learned if I had gotten to have my son’s phone for the night, too.  Oh well,  a mom can dream….

 

Cell phones and homework? The struggles of a parent of a teen

A few days ago, I walked into the room to see my son at his desk staring at his cell phone.  I yelled at him to put it down and get his homework done. But,  he insisted he was doing his homework. “Mom, I’m looking up my assignment,” he told me.

Lately, I’ve noticed a big difference in the way my youngest child Garret, a high school freshman, uses his phone and the way his older siblings used their phones .  Garret uses his phone for everything he needs to do his homework. He uses it to look up word definitions, check his grades, calculate math problems and research science terms. Of course, in between, he’s also liking pictures on Instagram and pulling up videos on Vine.

As a parent, I’m struggling with maintaining control over how much connectivity is too much, particularly when my teen is a digital native who considers a paperback dictionary “ridiculous” and “unnecessary”.

A big problem is that homework in my house seems to drag on for hours and I find myself nagging Garret to hurry up so he can get to sports practice on time or get to bed at a decent hour.  While I realize that teachers pile on the homework, I’m sure that some of the reason it drags on for hours is because of the distraction of electronics.

In a new study by Common Sense Media, half of the teenagers said they watch TV or use social media either “a lot” or “sometimes” while doing homework, and 76 percent said they listen to music while working.  Half of the teens also said that listening to music actually helps their work, while only 6 percent said they thought it hurt.

“As a parent and educator, there’s clearly more work to be done around the issue of multi-tasking,” said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, an organization that monitors youthful media use and gives recommendations to parents told NBC News. “Nearly two-thirds of teens today tell us they don’t think watching TV or texting while doing homework makes any difference to their ability to study and learn, even though there’s more and more research to the contrary.”

My friend Stefani is just as frustrated as I am. She took her son’s cell phone away from him a few days ago. She explained to me that he’s a kid who is easily distracted and whose grades have been slipping. “I blame that darn phone,” she said.

The phone is just one culprit in our teens’ addiction to devices.  New research has found that teens are spending a reported nine hours a day on media consumption, with tweens trailing not too far behind, dedicating an estimated six hours to their smartphones or tablets.

Steyer says that that statistic  is sad because it “shows you that kids spend more time with media and technology than they do with their parents, time in school or any other thing.”

While it is sad, it also is reality.

Until now, I’ve been okay with letting my son use his phone while doing homework. He is doing well in school. But this survey has me wondering if I am making a mistake. Maybe I should make Garret put his phone in the desk drawer until his homework is finished. What do you think…should cell phones be part of the homework routine —  or banned until it’s completed?

I am frustrated by my teen’s cell phone addiction

Last night I was TRYING to find out why my daughter was in such a grumpy mood. When I went into her room to speak with her, it was as if she could only sort of hear me.

She was tapping away on the keyboard of her cell phone. When I brought to her attention that I was next to her in person, trying to have a conversation, she told me she was tired and didn’t feel like talking. I told her she was being rude and stomped out of the room.

Ugh, the life of a 21st Century mom!

Apparently, my daughter’s world exists on the little screen in her hand and at that moment, she didn’t want to make me part of it. That’s what we’re up against, parents. Sure we have an addiction to our cell phones, too. But get prepared because our teen addiction to their phones is about to get worse. The next generation is doing almost EVERYTHING from their cell phones.

One in four teens are cell-mostly Internet users, according to the Pew Research Centers Internet and American Life Projects Teens and Technology 2013 report. Moreover, one in three middle school students use mobile devices to complete their homework.

Did you know most teens sleep with their phones nearby — some even with their phones under their pillows —  just  in case a friend contacts them. Experts say this “on call” status has come to reflect obligation, anxious need, and even addiction.

Teens who use their cell phones to text are 42% more likely to sleep with their phones than teens who own phones but don’t text.  Let’s be real, here. Most teens these days use their phones to text. Teens are supposed to text in the middle of soccer games, music lessons, lacrosse practice or  karate classes  — but I’ve seen them try!

It’s become even more challenging at my house to enforce rules that everyone shuts off cell phones and no one texts at dinner, even if it’s just two of us sitting down for pizza. Still, I’m hanging tough and enforcing dinnertime rules  and that sometimes makes me the bad guy.

Some parents are enforcing cell phone curfews — no cell use after a certain time at night.  One mom told me that for her son, telling his friends that his cell phone was shut off after 11 PM actually gave him an out.

I recently read about another mother who suggested that her teens tell friends that all cell phones will be unreachable during the night as they will be on a charger pad. When her daughter voiced worry about a friend who was having a difficult time and might need someone to call – the Mom validated the concern but invited her daughter to give their house number as an emergency back-up. We all know no kid is going to call the house phone these days!

I think our kids need downtime from their phones. They just don’t know they need it. So, it’s up to us parents, and that’s not an easy job.

We have provided our teens with a high-tech world of endless connectivity. Now, we have to teach them the value of disconnecting — especially when mom is in the room!

Parents, how are you handling your teen addiction to their cell phones  and the need for constant connectivity? Do you think we as parents should embrace the new normal or should we try to encourage our kids to turn off their phones more often?

 

Taking away the cell phone

                                                              Should parents take away cell phones as punishment?

 

 

My youngest son has a foul mouth. It’s coming from the music he listens to and the You Tube videos he watches. Sometimes, he’ll walk around the house singing obscene from rap songs or  video.

The more vulgar the song, the more he remembers the lines. I’m constantly on him on about this.

I’ve banned him from You Tube but frankly, it’s too hard to monitor. He pulls it up on a friend’s phone when I’m not around.

Last night, I blew up. He was walking around the house singing a song and doing some gestures that had something to do with a girl humping a guy in the back of a car and trying to pin him down months later as the baby daddy. “Now I’m pregnant and you the pappy…say what?”

The best punishment I could think of was taking away his cell phone. It’s the one thing he really cares about these days. Yet, taking away the phone punishes me as well.  Today after school is the school dance and I want to be in touch with him for pick up.

In some ways, taking away the electronics worries me. The goal, of course, is to help my son learn from his mistakes, make better choices and demonstrate more maturity. We all know that for wired kids, the most impactful consequence is loss of digital privileges. But am I giving electronics more power by using them for discipline? Will taking his cell away make it something he wants to use even more?

I dont’ know about you, but I know how hard it is to enforce digital punishment.  A recent Pew Report found many parents don’t follow through on cellphone bans.

Some parenting experts believe we should use digital punishment sparingly. They say the most effective consequences grow logically out of misbehavior. A kid who sends an inappropriate text loses cellphone access or a kid whose grades suffer because she’s on Facebook instead of doing homework gets social media access taken away. The recommend saying the device is being grounded instead of the child.

So what do you think about digital grounding? Have you ever taken away your teen’s or tween’s cell phone as punishment and if so, did it change the behavior?

 

Does taking away your teens cellphone really work as punishment?

My daughter’simages.jpg1 friend Tina recently got her phone taken away for lying to her mom and dad. When I asked her why, she said that she was driving a golf cart and accidentally hit her brother’s  foot. Well, her brother, Ryan, started crying and their mom freaked and wanted to know what happened. Tina,  for fear of getting in trouble, lied and said he ran into the cart.  Her brother said that was not not true, Tina ran into him.  Her mom asked a neighbor who happened to have seen the incident and she supported what Ryan stated. Well, Tina’s mom was not only disappointed in Tina for lying, but extremely upset because  she could have seriously hurt her brother.

Tina’s phone was taken from her as punishment and she does not know when she will be getting it back. Now, I understand what Tina did was wrong, but I don’t think the punishment fits the crime. I know every parent disciplines differently, but I would have at least told Tina her exact punishment — a day or two  without the phone —  or I would of had her do the laundry for  a week.

I told Tina she needs to apologize to her brother for hurting him and apologize to her parents for lying and hurting her brother, even if it was an accident. Accidents happen, but lying  will only hurt you in the end.

 

I have to wonder what punishment would Tina have gotten if she snuck out of her room and went drinking with friends at midnight. Would she  have the phone taken away for a month? It’s unrealistic and I don’t think would work.  If you keep taking the phone away as a punishment for everything your teen does, do you think it’s really going to continue working? For some teens, the first or second time their cellphone is  taken away  becomes their last. They realize it is too painful to be without it.  Yet, some other teens become immune to losing their cell phones. Or, parents give in and give the phone back.

So, I pose this question: Does taking away a teen’s cell phone really work as punishment?

 

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Watchdog over Kids’ Cellphones?

My husband recently sent me this article on  software that will monitor your teen’s where about, calls, texts, etc. I found it fascinating and wanted to share it with all of you. I’m not sure what your teen would think of this, but I can tell you my daughter would think I am invading her privacy. However, like the parents in the article state, it’s our jobs as parents to protect our children. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Software keeps dogged watch over kids’ cellphone activity

By Nicole Brochu, Sun-Sentinel, Staff writer 4:25 p.m. EST, January 14, 2012

When Matthew and Angela Sima bought their middle-schooler her first cellphone, it came with a wake-up call. A stranger started sending their little girl unsolicited text messages.

So, the Jupiter couple took a proactive step: they turned to parent monitoring software to track their daughter’s cellphone activity. Just like computer monitoring software, which became all the rage once the personal computer proliferated in American homes, cellphone monitoring software for parents is growing in popularity in a world where the average teenager has a cellphone within reach 24/7.

Using My Mobile Watchdog in the three years since, the Simas can not only monitor the texts, emails and photos sent or received, the applications downloaded and Internet searches performed on their daughter’s phone, but they can block applications and control the times she uses the phone. Even better, the Simas said, they get instantaneous alerts whenever contact is made by or to a phone number not on a pre-approved list.

“There’s no such thing as privacy in our family,” Angela Sima told her daughter when she objected to the extra set of eyes. “Our job is to protect her.”

A 2010 Pew Research Center study found that 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have cellphones — up from 45 percent in 2004. More of these devices are smart phones, the high-tech variety with Internet access, media players and the amplified cyber-dangers that come with them. “Kids didn’t used to have smart phones. Now, they want a smart phone more than a laptop [computer] or a bike,” said Robert Lotter, CEO of eAgency Mobile Security, the makers of My Mobile Watchdog. “The smart phone market has increased the threat [to children] dramatically, so there is definitely an uptrend” in parents’ buying monitoring control products.

In a July 2011 study, the Family Online Safety Institute found that 25 percent of the parents surveyed used parental controls to monitor their kids’ cellphone use; 44 percent restricted kids’ ability to download games and applications; and 70 percent checked their kids’ cellphone for sent and received text messages. “Our kids are vulnerable. That’s why we protect them,” said Greg Schiller, a Special Victims Unit prosecutor for the Palm Beach County Sexual Predator Enforcement Program. “This kind of software allows parents to be there and make sure no one is taking advantage of their child.”

The idea, too, is to protect kids from themselves. “You hear so many stories about kids going off with the wrong crowd, or sending inappropriate pictures back and forth,” said Mae Belgrave, 33, a Boca Raton software developer and mother of three. “You think you know your kids, but they’re like totally different people when they’re around their friends. So, you just worry about them, and the cellphone gives them so much freedom these days.” Her 12-year-old’s phone has Mobile Spy, which allows Belgrave to keep up with her texts, phone calls and — thanks to a GPS tracker — movements.

“That’s a wonderful feature, to be able to check to see she went where she said she was going to,” said Belgrave, who is even more confident in her daughter’s trustworthiness after a year of seeing nothing amiss via Mobile Spy. “She’s responsible. We just wanted to take that extra precaution.”

Detective Rich Wistocki handles Internet crimes against children for a suburban Chicago police department and, as a private consultant, travels the country speaking to parents about how to avoid cyber-dangers. Topping his list of recommendations is My Mobile Watchdog, which is used not just by parents but by law enforcement agencies that have found it vital in tracking down predators and drug dealers. Wistocki credits the product with helping his department capture about 15 sexual predators and 50 drug dealers in the past three years.

“My Mobile Watchdog allows parents to be in their child’s life,” he said. “Other companies say they do what [My Mobile Watchdog] does, but I haven’t seen it.”

But there are plenty of competitors, mostly spyware companies such as Mobile Spy. Whether one is better than the other is up for the consumer’s interpretation, but there’s no question they offer different products. One of the biggest differences is in the spying. Spyware can be installed on anyone’s phone — a child’s, a spouse’s, an employee’s — without their knowing. My Mobile Watchdog is only for parental monitoring of kids’ phones, and a periodic notification is sent to the kids’ devices telling them they’re being monitored. Lotter said the difference is intentional, because he has a moral objection to spying on anyone, even children.

While some people may think such extensive monitoring sounds intrusive, experts say it’s a responsible, and legally viable, means of keeping close watch over kids, whether parents tell them or not. “One hundred percent,” said David Seltzer, a former cyber-crimes prosecutor and now a cyber-crimes defense lawyer in Miami. “I recommend it to all my clients.”

Stealth monitoring of such activity may be a technical violation of Florida’s wiretapping statute, Seltzer said, but it’s not prosecuted in such instances. “Unless the child is an emancipated adult, you can monitor their activity” on the cellphone without their knowing, he said. Whether parents should tell the kids they’re being monitored, he added, “depends on the child.” Belgrave, though, said she and her husband opted to tell their daughter about the spyware: “If she wanted to have a phone, that was going to be how it goes.”

No matter what monitoring device they use, it’s critical in today’s hyper-connected age that parents stay plugged in, said Mary McLaughlin, a cyber-security analyst for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Computer Crime Center. “Parents need to make sure they are as involved as they can be in their child’s digital life,” she said. “They need to stay on top of what their child is doing.”

 

 

My teens don’t budge when the phone rings, do yours?

A few days ago, I was clacking away on my keyboard when the house phone rang. Of course, the cordless in my home office was nowhere to be found. All my kids were home and I figured someone would answer it.

What a naive mother I am!

When I was a teenager, my sister and I would jump over the couch and knock each other out of the way in our race for the phone. Each of us wanted, needed, to be the first to answer, because we were 100 percent convinced it would be our friend or a boy calling for us.

Fast-forward to 2011….phone rings, kids don’t budge. Worse, they don’t even seem to hear it. Suddenly it hits me…they have no need to answer the house phone. In the age of cell phones, if a friend wants to reach them, they will call or text on their cell phones.  My teens’ attitude is why bother getting up from Xbox or detaching from the computer screen when the caller couldn’t possibly be for them.

“ANSWER THE PHONE,” I scream.

Only my 9-year-old seems to hear. He answers the house phone just as the answering machine picks up.

Lately, he’s been wanting a cell phone, too. Looks like I’ll be holding out a few more years. I need someone to answer the phone.

(FYI: If you haven’t read this piece by Stephen Yoder of the WSJ on the cell phone contract he made with his son, it’s worth reading. I plan to make the same contract when I finally give into the cell phone plea the third time around)

My teens don’t budge when the phone rings, do yours?

A few days ago, I was clacking away on my keyboard when the house phone rang. Of course, the cordless in my home office was nowhere to be found. All my kids were home and I figured someone would answer it.

What a naive mother I am!

When I was a teenager, my sister and I would jump over the couch and knock each other out of the way in our race for the phone. Each of us wanted, needed, to be the first to answer, because we were 100 percent convinced it would be our friend or a boy calling for us.

Fast-forward to 2011….phone rings, kids don’t budge. Worse, they don’t even seem to hear it. Suddenly it hits me…they have no need to answer the house phone. In the age of cell phones, if a friend wants to reach them, they will call or text on their cell phones.  My teens’ attitude is why bother getting up from Xbox or detaching from the computer screen when the caller couldn’t possibly be for them.

“ANSWER THE PHONE,” I scream.

Only my 9-year-old seems to hear. He answers the house phone just as the answering machine picks up.

Lately, he’s been wanting a cell phone, too. Looks like I’ll be holding out a few more years. I need someone to answer the phone.

(FYI: If you haven’t read this piece by Stephen Yoder of the WSJ on the cell phone contract he made with his son, it’s worth reading. I plan to make the same contract when I finally give into the cell phone plea the third time around)

Raising Teenagers: When parents disagree on teen discipline

parents arguing over teen discipline

 

It’s midnight and I’m pacing around my house waiting for my 16-year-old son to get home. His driving curfew (according to the law for 16-year-old in Florida) is 11 p.m.  I’m fuming. My husband is sound asleep. I have a tracking app on my phone but it has stopped working. I am not sure why.  For the last hour, every time I thought about calling or texting Garret, I stopped myself. The last I could tell he was in a part of town where the streets are very dark and lined with canals. I am terrified about distracting him from the road. Ugh, raising teenagers is not easy!

When Garret finally arrives home, he doesn’t seem the least bit concerned that he’s an hour late or that I have been awake worrying.  I’m livid. I start screaming at him about how he should have called or texted me. He calmly responds: “If you want to know where I was, why didn’t you just track me?”  As we are arguing, my husband screams from the bedroom, “Can you two keep it down. I’m trying to sleep.”

I wanted to kill both my son and my husband.

I told my Garret to go to bed and we would discuss his punishment in the morning.

When I woke up the next morning, I still was angry and filled my husband in on what had happened. My husband did not have a curfew growing up and thinks that curfews are unnecessary.  Of course, he goes to sleep when our teenagers are out at night driving and doesn’t worry. I, on the other hand, can’t sleep until they are home safe.  I ask my husband to help me come up with an appropriate punishment. He thinks I should just tell my son to be more conscious of his curfew. I don’t agree with that punishment. Most of my son’s friends are 17. At that age, the driving curfew goes later, until 1 a.m.  My son often negotiates a later curfew when he isn’t driving. So, I think the punishment should be he has to be home by 11 p.m. and not one minute later, regardless of who is driving —  until Garret can prove himself trustworthy.  My husband thinks I am getting carried away with the punishment and making it so Garret will rebel.

We argue.

I win.

This is not the first argument my husband and I have had over how to discipline our teenagers and I’m sure it won’t be the last. My friends  tell me they, too, argue with their spouses over teen discipline.

My friend Jennifer punishes her teen daughter by taking away her cellphone. When her grades slip, the cell phone gets taken away until her grades improve. Her husband is completely against that form of punishment. He thinks taking away the cell phone is more of a punishment for them as parents because they can’t reach their daughter when they are running late to pick her up or need to tell her something.  They are constantly arguing over how to discipline their daughter, Jennifer told me. (Not long ago, Raquel wrote a post that questioned whether taking away a teen’s cell phone really works as punishment)

When my children were younger, my husband and I argued a little over how to discipline the kids. — should they go to time out for hitting a sibling or maybe get put to bed earlier? However, the issues were small and the stakes were low. With teenagers, finding the right punishment for the crime and being on the same page as your parenting partner is a HUGE challenge. Teenagers  test limits and sometimes they ignore your rules just to see if they can get away with it. They love dividing parents and playing one against the other.

What are friends doing for teen discipline?

Feeling agitated by my weekend’s parenting clash, I call my friend Stef, who has mentioned to me in the past that she and her husband often argue over how to discipline their teen sons. Stef explains to me that she disciplines with words and consequences, where her husband yells and slams doors.

“He has a shorter fuse than I do and he doesn’t tolerate disrespect,” she told me. “We try not to let them divide us and come off to them as if we’re coming from the same place, but it’s hard.”

Stef said the biggest disagreements with her husband are over the degree of the punishment. One time when her son mouthed off to her husband, he wanted to revoke all driving privileges for two weeks. Stef felt the punishment was too severe. “I had to take him aside and tell him that if he did that, he was going to be the one driving our son to school and home and anywhere else he needed to go.” They worked out a compromise of two days of no driving.

By now, I have learned that teens can either pour on the drama over even the slightest punishment, or be masters of looking like they don’t care about any discipline we dole out. I’m not sure which is worse!

Explaining the reason behind teen discipline

I read this bit of advice from Rosalind Wiseman on YourTeenMag.com and it stuck with me: She says the conversation with your teen about the punishment is more important than the actual consequence. “Focus on what you want your teen to learn from the experience,” she said, adding that while it can be so much easier to yell or disconnect, these conversations can be the most important you ever have with your teen.

Like most parents, I just want my son to grow up understanding respect and to become a responsible adult. It may be that I don’t always agree with my husband on how to make that happen. I would imagine this is even harder if you are divorced. If you and your spouse or partner or ex disagree on teen discipline, how have you handled it? Please share your experiences with teen discipline in the comment section below.

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How to Know When Your Teenager Wants to Talk

Last weekend, my teenage son Garret and I were driving to a food festival. My cell phone rang and I answered the call. It was my daughter at college with a big story to tell me. As I spoke to her, I didn’t notice how annoyed Garret was getting until he screamed out, “Enough talking on your phone mom!”

I hung up with my daughter and asked Garret what was going on. He told me he just wanted to talk to me. “I don’t understand why you have to be on the phone when we’re in the car together,” he said.

I felt like a bad mom. I had totally missed that signs that Garret want to talk to me. He actually had something specific he wanted to talk about, but I had no idea when we got in the car. Usually, Garret blasts his rap music when we are driving somewhere together. A lot of the time when I want him to open up to me, he gets annoyed by my prodding.

Because Garret is my third child, I should know the signs by now when a teenager wants to talk to his or her parent. But even as a seasoned veteran, I was off my game.

talking to a teenager

Seize the moment

If you want good communication with your teen, it’s important to seize the moment when you can to have a conversation rather than a lecture. Car rides are great places for that opportunity — and by talking on the phone, I had almost squandered it.  The next car ride alone with your teenager, turn off the radio, don’t answer your phone and it’s likely your teenager will surprise you with candid conversation.

Do something together

Another sign your teenager wants to talk is when he or she asks you to do an activity together. When my son Jake was home from college, he asked me if I wanted to go on a bike ride. Jake rarely opens up. But during the bike ride, he had lots to say and actually talked to me about his girlfriend.

When I watched the television show “13 Reasons Why” one of the things I found scary was how the teenagers shrugged off their parents’ efforts at conversation.  At times, my teenagers have shrugged me off the same way. It feels as if they want to talk when they want to talk and they don’t want to talk when you want to talk. The definitely don’t want you asking them questions.

Be available

A spontaneous conversation in the car or in their bedrooms late at night — any time when you’re not rushed — can make for some of the warmest, most rewarding moments with a teenager, according to Laurence Steinberg, an expert in adolescent behavior.  I have learned that those moments happen when your teen can tell they have your attention and when you listen more than you speak.

On WebMD, Steinberg said. “I think for parents, one of the key parts of having good communication with kids is being around enough to capitalize on these moments that invariably don’t come up when you expect them to.”

Be aware of location

As toddlers, the spontaneous hugs and “guess what mom?” seemed to come so easily. Now, my teenagers have a life that I’m not fully a part of and connecting is much more complicated. I noticed with Garret, and with my older teenagers, that they don’t like to have those deeper, bonding conversations in their bedrooms. It’s almost like I have invaded their personal space. So, if Garret comes into my bedroom or my home office or into the kitchen while I’m cooking, it is a sign he has something to tell me or is  open to conversation.

As parents, I feel we need to know what our kids are doing and thinking. Teenagers see it differently.  They don’t want us to know everything going on in their lives.  Still, the teen years are such a crucial time and just because they aren’t willing to open up to us as much as when they were younger, doesn’t mean we can’t keep working on ways to have those important talks. Next time I’m in the car alone with Garret, he gets priority over phone calls.  While, it took a harsh reminder  to get me to realize it, not only do those bonding conversations mean a lot to me, they mean a lot to our teenagers, even if our teens don’t always admit it.

Related:

Are you a Spy Mom? What some moms have learned about their teens on Facebook

Why are teens so annoyed?

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