Though I’ve already raised a teenage boy, my 11-year-old daughter, Samantha, is a whole different creature . . . boys truly are “snips and snails and puppy dog tails” and girls are the “sugar and spice and everything nice – along with a touch of drama.”

Due to my lack of knowledge with my female preteen, I decided to interview one of my teenage students to get the scoop on what I can be doing now to help meet my daughter’s needs.

Me:  “Jessica, being a teenager yourself, what would you say are things parents could do that would be more helpful with a teen growing up?”

Jessica: “Mrs. Aitken, I would say the number one thing NOT to do is YELL at your kid.  Even though this may make you [the parent] feel better, it sticks on the kid even after the argument is over.  Also, don’t stress your kid out!  Just because the parent is stressed, a kid seeing their parent calm actually helps the kid listen and respond better.”

Me: “Those sound really good Jessica. You know . . . unfortunately there is no manual that comes with our kids, and sometimes we just raise our kids the way our parents raised us,  or if we had a tough childhood, we maybe try to do the exact opposite.  What do you think about that?”

Jessica:  “Well, I think privacy and trust are REALLY important to a teen.  Give your kid their own room if you can.  Don’t always assume they’re up to no good. “

Me: “Sometimes, I know that I feel nervous or scared that some of the bad things of our culture will cross over my daughter’s phone or pop up from a ‘friend’ or something like that.  I think all parents want their kids to have successful good lives.  Do you agree?”

Jessica:  “I think parents need to BE what they want their children to be.  And even when a teen acts like they don’t want to hang out with their parent, you [the parent] still should.  Especially if the parent is interested in what their teen does.  I like to shop! “

Me:  “Well, Jessica, this gives parents some good things to think about.  Any last words you’d like to say before we go?”

Jessica:  “Yes.  Don’t say no to everything!”

Me:  “Thank you Jessica.  You have definitely given us as parents plenty to think about.”

Dearest Parents . . . I am certainly learning as I go along, but one thing I am learning . . . my job is not to keep my children from harm, my job is to show them how to grow closer to their Heavenly Father, and rely on Him.  Making mistakes is part of the growing process.  Figuring things out with the help of parents acting as guardrails can be more effective than keeping children overprotected.  It’s a balancing act that I am still learning, but with God’s help, I have the courage to try again just one more day!

Article Written by: Cindy Aitkin