Today we tackle three things your teens wish you knew – advice and knowledge from Aly Pain – family coach and educator and our latest speaker in our Mojo and Moxie monthly series.
I’m going to start todays blog by telling you all how happy Danni and I are that we decided to run our Speaker Series – What I wish I knew!
Our speakers have been as varied as they are interesting.
So far, we’ve featured Amy Johnston – who spoke with us about Fitness over Forty and then we tackled #thevaginadialogues with menopause advocate, Shirley Weir. Two completely different topics equally relevant to our stage of life.
Last week, as I already mentioned, we featured Aly Pain whose TikTok “Three Things your Teens Wish you Knew” went viral and inspired the theme for our conversation. As promised, here is a quick re-cap of our conversations with Aly. We really hope you didn’t miss it, but if you did – here is a recap on the Three Things your Teens wish you Knew!
1. They Can’t Always Describe what they are Feeling
The first thing our teens wish we knew, is that they can’t always describe what they are feeling – and they need us (the adults) to be understanding – or at the very least, aware of that.
Teens have not yet worked their emotional vocabulary muscles – and they need us to be patient, and to help them learn to express their feelings as they mature.
Aly suggests we support our teens by asking open ended questions, and celebrating when they ARE able to tell us how they feel. Questions like, “What’s wrong?” are difficult for teens to answer, because sometimes they just don’t know how to articulate how they are feeling.
She recommended a wonderful resource – The Feelings Wheel – as something we can print out and place on our fridge to help our teens articulate what they are feeling.
Something like “Tell me about your day at school” will get you more response and maybe deeper conversation.
In addition, teens struggle with feeling judged by their parents. Ally suggests that we avoid judgement or comparison with others, and that we pay particular attention to tone. If you are worried with how things are going in a conversation, Ally suggests using, “tell me what you heard me say” as a great way to understand where communication with your teen is going awry.
2. Don’t Pretend you were the perfect teen
I have to admit – I laughed when Aly spoke about parents pretending they were perfect teens.
Don’t we ALL want to reflect back on our teen years and erase some of the mistakes we made – thinking hopefully that we can guide our teens to make better choices?
I was not a particularly mischievous teen, but I certainly can still recall some of the feelings and misconceptions I had growing up, as it related to my parents and their understanding of me. I try so hard to channel some of this into how I react to my own teens. Of course, the truth is, as adults we have things like life experience that help us understand situations differently – and teens just are not there!
The prefrontal cortex of the brain is the area of the brain that allows us to think about the future, to understand consequences, and generally make better decisions. Not surprisingly, the prefrontal cortex of teens still has a lot of work to do to grow into adulthood – so we need to give them some slack.
So – because we can’t change brain development in teens, we need to be honest with the mistakes WE made. By doing this, we show ourselves as vulnerable and human.
Teens are more likely to share their ups and downs with you, if they feel you have also made mistakes. We did not get through our teen years making all the right decisions and dealing with every situation perfectly. Ally suggests that although we want to encourage our children perhaps to make better choices than we did – or shield them from the hurt and mistakes we made, this is not the best way to forge relationships with our teens.
No one is super excited to share all the missteps made in adolescence, but I don’t know about you – if it means having a closer, more trusting and honest relationship with my teens, I might have to just go down that road and suck it up…
Support your daughters in standing up for themselves
The last of the three things your teens wish you knew, applies perhaps more to our daughters, than our sons .
Aly suggests that we need to encourage our daughters to find their voice as teens and to learn to question authority – in a respectful manner. It is most important that our girls are comfortable in their own homes to speak their mind and ask for what they need in an assertive but controlled manner and to celebrate her for doing so.
Dads – and other male figures in the home – can help with this by validating their daughters in their efforts. Ally suggests that our teen girls need to learn that, in life, their opinions may not always be endorsed, but they will be heard. The important part of the learning, is that they share their opinions and feel comfortable doing so. In other words, they won’t always be right, but they will be heard.
By creating an environment where our girls feel empowered to do this, not only do they seek out more positive relationships with other boys / men in their future – they are equipped to face uncomfortable situations with more confidence.
I know as parents, we are always trying to adapt and learn and grow in order to do our best for our teens. There are so many parenting books out there telling us to “to this” or “try that” – and of course it is great to suck up all the info we can get. I have to tell you though – at my stage in life, with one more teen left at home (and not feeling like I’m getting any better at parenting) it sure is great to have a resource like Aly to refer to.
I LOVE checking out her insta or TikTok because when I’m feeling weary, or just need a “parenting pick-me up” she offers some quick insight and advice – perhaps a laugh – and more likely a little something for me to think about.
If you want to check out Aly – she can be found HERE – all links to her social media accounts are available there for you to follow.
Here’s to learning to be the best parents we can – and to knowing we are doing the very best we can… 🙂
We got this!