Getting through with teenagers can be tough. It is tough in a very different way to the baby/toddler years. Babies and toddlers can be demanding, yes, but I found that developing a routine really helped and that THEY don’t answer back! With teenagers (mine are 17 and 15), we face some different, more complicated issues, concerning school, dating, self-confidence, alcohol and drugs, to name but a few. Sibling rivalry also rears its ugly head, particularly with same-sex teenagers.
One issue that’s been around for a few years with my two is homework. At age 13 they are given around 1 to 1.5 hours a night, increasing to maybe 2.5 hours per night by age 15 or 16. I tried to be firm with them when they came home from school, asking them to do it straightaway while everything was still fresh in their minds and they weren’t too tired. “But we ARE tired Mum, we’ve just got in from school,” they’d say. Or in summer: “All my friends are going down to the Badi – don’t you like me to be outdoors?” Clever stuff. And then there are the extra-curricular activities like football training, guitar lessons etc., that interfere with the evening routine. I guess we get through (or rather muddle through) as best we can.
Our 17 year-old now has a group of close friends who venture out locally, and also in Zurich, to bars and clubs at the weekend. Oh, how I sometimes long to be back in toddler times, when I was at the centre of his little universe. I knew back then exactly where he was! Now, I have to let him go, to some extent, and sometimes have to accept I don’t know exactly where he is. However, he always has his mobile phone with him and switched on which helps. What must it have been like for our parents, in the pre-handy days? I guess they just “got through”, just as we try to, using what they had available to them.
I would love to hear other stories of “getting through” with teenagers, and coping strategies that have worked for you.
By Heidi at Teen City
Heidi is a forty-something mother of 3 boys aged 17, 15 and 8. She hails from Wales but has lived on the edge of Lake Zurich for 17 years and has now become Swiss too! Heidi loves music, travelling and family life with her boys.