Parenting teens today is HARD! I have a 19F and 15M and I have made a TON of mistakes. In fact, my next article should be “What not to do when raising teens”.
Technology brings a completely different element to parenting teens in today’s world but so does society’s perception. On one hand, you have super overprotective parents that are stunting their Child’s social skills and on the other hand, you have completely negligent parents who live by the mantra of “we were all doing it, I’d rather they do it here where they’re safe”.
I don’t judge parents either way as it’s their family and every situation is different. I do judge the second type of parents when it involves my children. If you fall in that category do not allow minors to drink in your home without consent from their parents. It’s not your decision to make. Also, it’s not the same. Back in the 80’s/90’s we didn’t have technology and roofies weren’t a thing yet. It’s a different world now.
Enough with that preaching…. Here are my top tips and tricks on parenting teens and how to stay 2 steps ahead of them:
***Disclaimer: this article will make my kids sound TERRIBLE. They’re really not, most of these tips are things I had to figure out during a 6 month rebellious phase.***
Make sure you know who your child is hanging out with. “you are who you surround yourself with” is very true.
Do not judge their friends by their outward appearances. I have seen some of the sketchiest-looking kids with the biggest hearts and moral values as well as seen some of the most adorable kids with pure ugliness inside.
You CANNOT control who your child hangs out with (or dates). The best thing to do is softly point things out about the other person and keep an open discussion with your child. When one of my children was dating someone I didn’t like a lot of people would say “You can’t tell your child you don’t like that person or else they’ll continue dating them out of spite”. That was laughable as if your child is half as stubborn as mine the reality is: if you pretend to like them they’ll get rid of them and find someone 100x worse, out of spite. So just remain neutral.
Remember children change. How they are at 16 is not how they will be at 19. So if one of those “bad” kids returns into your Child’s life, give them a clean slate.
This was a super easy fix for us when I realized one of my kids was sneaking out. I invested in an alarm system!
My house is not a fortress. I go to bed after 11 pm and my husband gets up at 4 am and that’s when the security system is armed. Also, both kids have a code to dismantle it. My security system includes monitors on every window and exterior door as well as a security camera in the front of the house and one in the backyard. I also have a ring camera. When I wake up I can check the system to see what triggered any of the motion detectors. Now, do I check the system every morning? Absolutely not! So for the kids, it’s essentially a game of Russian roulette on if I’ll find out if they snuck out or not.
I have a rule that iPhone locations need to be turned on. I honestly do not use this feature often and have my location enabled as well to keep things fair. The reason I request this is for a few reasons:
- If they’re uncomfortable somewhere and need me to pick them up and they don’t know the address
- If they loose their phone
- If I can’t remember their friends address and they’re not answering their phone when I call them
- If they’re walking home from work late at night and I just wanna be weird and creep their location to make me feel better that they’re not abducted
And, on the rare event, I have asked them not to go to a certain home and I feel like they have.
THIS is where I give you a warning! So one of my kids wasn’t allowed to go to a certain friend’s home as I wasn’t okay with what the parents allowed to happen in their home. So when they said they were going to a different friend’s home, I would track it. Everything was fine until I realized I was being tricked!
My child had obtained an old phone from a friend.
- They would go to the place they said they were going
- Sign out of their Apple ID on their phone
- Sign into their Apple ID on the old phone
- Leave the old phone at the location they said they would be
- Run off with their phone to the place they said they would be (they can still receive phone calls and texts)
How did I figure this out? My child forgot to return and get the old phone so even though they were home, their phone location was still at the place they were supposed to be at the night before.
KIDS ARE TRICKY! STAY VIGILANT!!!!
Alcohol and Drugs
Fun fact (and I learned this VERY recently) Your child can order wine and beer kits off Amazon. So If you happened to notice large glass containers and Home Depot-size buckets, your child may be as sneaky as mine!
Drug Tests can be purchased at Walmart. I do NOT recommend these unless you are perfectly okay watching them use them. If you’re at the level of drug testing your child, all trust has been broken and to think they won’t sabotage the test is just ridiculous. My child actually handed me a cold clear cup full. When I commented on the fact their urine was cold they tried to tell me that’s normal and they’ve always peed cold.
Know the smells and signs. This is really going to be your only way of staying ahead of them. Most kids WILL try alcohol, drugs, or vape. This is just the reality of parenting teens. The goal is to stay on top of it so they don’t get addicted or try worse.
Research what vapes and pods look like. If you smell cotton candy or any other sweet smells it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re vaping, but keep an eye on it. Also, if you find a vape and they say it’s their friends, it’s probably not! I found one and my child said it was a friend of theirs. When I reminded them their friend hadn’t been over for over a week they shrugged and said their friend just borrowed others vapes. So I asked why they didn’t bring it to school for their friend, and it was literal crickets.
This one is tricky as I doubt they’re drinking in their rooms. I did uncover one of my kid’s stashes in our downstairs wood fireplace. Not sure how they didn’t think I would find it. Also, pay attention to when they leave. If they’re leaving with a backpack find a way to move it so you can determine weight. Clothes don’t weigh much, alcohol does. I would always offer to hold it when they were putting their shoes on or something. Usually, they’re grateful for the help so the times they weren’t I would search the backpack.
Know your drugs. One of the biggest misconceptions is that weed has a distinct smell. It does! but now dab pens are a thing and you can load them up with weed and there’s no smell. The biggest signs of drugs are their eyes. If they’re glazed and red (they say allergies) or their pupils or severely dilated. Honestly, do your research to ensure you know what you’re looking for.
Also, please realize kids are trying drugs and alcohol a lot earlier than you think.
I swear I could write a best-selling book on when my child ran away. I’m Canadian so our laws are different than other countries (obviously). In Canada, the police will not do anything if your child still goes to school as it’s evident the child is unharmed. They DO go to CPS though as you’re neglecting your child. It’s a super fun process that adds a ton of additional stress you do not need during this time.
My best advice to stay ahead of this issue is:
- Know your kid’s friends’ parents’ names so you can find them on Facebook to find out where your child is and know they’re safe.
- Stay calm. They do come back.
- Check with the school to ensure they are attending. If they are, ask to speak with a guidance counsellor and ask them to just check in and make sure they’re safe.
- Reach out to them on their phone and be calm. Don’t threaten them with punishments, don’t manipulate them, just talk to them.
This one is fun. They will get around you on social media if they want to. I had a rule for when they were first allowed to have social media (fun fact: they already had it, they just deleted the app when they weren’t using it in case I checked). My rule was they had to friend me, and they did. What I didn’t realize was they friended me on their “family” account. They had an account that they would add to from time to time, but they also had an entirely other account that was their main account. They don’t use their actual name on that account so you can’t find them. I have yet to find a way to stay ahead of them on this.
Parenting Teens Don’ts:
- Don’t go through their phones. It’s an invasion of privacy. Not just your Childs, but their friends. Teens tell each other EVERYTHING and there’s something icky about reading another kids secrets.
- If they come home high or drunk don’t yell at them. Deal with that the next day. Whatever you say they won’t remember and if they’re on some drugs it will cause a “‘bad trip” which is not something you want to deal with.
- Don’t lose your mind when your teen tells you things. Pick and choose your battles. If they’re being honest with you about something, sometimes you gotta take that as a win that they’re allowing you in their world.
Parenting teens is freaking hard! Some teens are absolutely amazing and a walk in the park. Other teens are amazing but will put you through it for a hot minute, and other teens will require more work. Keep an open and honest relationship with your teens so they can come to you when they need help. Believe me, they will need help.
What are your parenting teens’ tips for keeping two steps ahead of your teen? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section!