How Do I Parent My Teen?

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Relationship, Teens | 0 comments

Being a parent to a teenager is:

  • challenging

  • overwhelming

  • confusing

  • insightful

  • fulfilling

  • joyful

If you read that list and thought to yourself that I must have hit my head and become disoriented in the middle of the list, I encourage you to continue to read.

In parenting a teenager, you have undoubtedly asked friends, family, and maybe even some professional experts for wisdom. Additionally, you have probably googled something similar to:

  • “How do I talk with my teen?”
  • “How do I get my teenager to listen to me?”
  • “Is it normal for teens to…..”
  • “How do I motivate my teen?”
  • “How do I know if my teenager hates me?”

I am sure that you have even more questions beyond this list.  Parenting is hard!

In this blog, I hope to provide some insight and support with the roller coaster ride of raising a teenager. I promise you that you are not alone in feeling lost. I promise you that the love you felt when you first looked into your baby’s eyes is still there for both of you. And all of those hopes and dreams you had for your baby to be happy can still come true.

The reality is that being a parent is not for the weak AND that being a teen is also not for the weak.

Let’s explore connection, grace, and some truths in parenting a teen.


Human beings crave and need connection. Sometimes you may sense that your teen is avoiding connection with you, other family members, peers, or society in general. This pushing away from others can be the result of wanting to protect themselves.

Why would a teen feel the need to protect themselves?

It is often an unconscious action that can be the result of past challenges or trauma and/or even the result of their own insecurities.

If a teenager is confronted with difficulties in relationships with peers or family, they may limit interactions. This act is born out of fear of judgment, rejection, or hurt feelings for themselves. If your teen feels criticized or rejected (even by you as the parent), then they will want to avoid continued judgment and avoid the relationship(s) or situation(s) where this occurs. Avoidance equals protection.

They may also take some steps back in relationships to protect others from rejection or confusion in regards to their own struggles and insecurities. A teen struggling with finding their voice and identity may stop actively seeking connections because they do not know where they fit in. As they journey to finding their identity, their beliefs and interests will vacillate which impacts relationships and connection.

Let’s be real, the teen years are riddled with judgment and confusion.

In trying to build connections with your teen, it is important to take a serious look at them as individuals. Try seeing your child through the lens of who they are now vs. the vision of who you think they are. Observe what activities they engage in, what classes they do well in, what they talk about. I know, for some teens, it may feel like they don’t ever talk to adults.. so this can be challenging and you may have to listen a little harder and more intentionally. Observe and see if they leave a few breadcrumbs to guide you on your path to connect.

As you pick up those breadcrumbs, it may guide you in connecting with your teen. Maybe ask them to join you at the record store, art show, book store, or whatever they are interested in. Learning about new things and engaging in activities together helps build connection.


Grace is a loaded word for many and it may seem unattainable at times when you are the parent of a teenager! I propose that you extend grace to yourself, your teen, your parenting partner, and your family.


What do I mean by grace? The definition offered by Miriam Webster’s Dictionary says it best:

  • disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
  • a temporary exemption : REPRIEVE

Sometimes by allowing some grace and space to process and problem solve, we can uncover strengths and goals for ourselves and others.  So, if we remove ourselves from a situation or slow down and take the time to examine our goals and needs, we can come up with an alternative route to the same goal or even change our goals altogether. Flexibility may be the key with teens and ourselves!

Additionally, grace applies to the notion that we are all human. As humans, we are perfectly imperfect. We all make mistakes and misunderstand things. These “oopses” provide the opportunity for growth, change, and character development- not just for your teen, but also for you. We are always able to learn and grow- it keeps life interesting! And having a teen is always interesting!

Some Truths

There is no absolute right way when you are parenting.

The right way is what works best for you, your teen, and your family. What happens and works in one home will not always work in the house next door. Heck, what works with one of your kids in your family may not work the same with another one of your kids in your family.


As a parent, you may feel the pressure to always be the authority and to always be right.

Sometimes what is right is acknowledging the need to change directives and agendas. In exploring the need to alter the current path in your relationship with your teen, you are modeling and teaching your teenager problem solving skills and grace. Parenting a teen can be very humbling and insightful.


Your kiddo is at a tough age.

During the teen years, they are expected to respect and abide by all of the rules. Also during these years, they are learning their voice and developing an understanding of who they are. In trying to make sense of the world around them, they are asking questions to learn more. This may appear argumentative and disrespectful as they question. This may be a good time to connect with them and help them to ask the questions and get some answers.

What I Hope You Know

As you make this journey of parenthood, you will laugh, rejoice, cry, scream, and so much more. You will wonder if you are doing it right from the moment you learn of the pregnancy. Your concerns will transition as your child grows and the challenges and joys happen with each age and stage.

At some point, you will be the parent of an adult aged child.

In the time between pregnancy to adult aged children, the parenting role becomes similar to training wheels. Those training wheels will need to come off. You go from being solely responsible for their survival to a supporting role.

The teen years provide the opportunity for your child to explore, learn, and develop an understanding of their world while you, as a parent, are still there to guide them. It’s kind of the point where you may transition from two to one training wheel to build confidence while still being there as a support if they fall. As your teen moves through this stage the ability to offer connection and grace can make a huge impact.

Hang in there! Stay connected! Give yourself and your teen a bit of grace!


About the Author- Kathy Davis, LCSW

Kathy Davis, LCSW provides virtual therapy at Resolve Counseling in Texas. She works with families, children, teens, and adults providing online therapy for anxiety, depression, grief, and trauma. She earned her Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin and has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Child Development, also from the University of Texas at Austin.