January 2, 2014

The Ups and Downs of Raising Teens

By Lynette
Introduced by Amy

Well friends, the holidays are behind us, and it's back to normal, everyday life.  I love partying at Christmas time, but there's something soothing about the daily routine.  (Ha...I sound 70 years old.)  Plus, with a wild toddler, "normal" is not the same as "predictable" or "calm"...ha!  No way.  It's a tantrum-fest around here.  But, life is good and I'm pretty pumped for 2014...it's gonna be a good year.  :)  I can feel it in my bones!  

For this guest post, I am so honored to have an experienced momma, Lynette, share her thoughts on parenting teens.  She has 2 teens...along with 4 younger kiddios!!!!  I was so happy she agreed to share some of her ideas and tips--I mean, with 6 kids, this lady knows a thing or two!  Lynette and her husband are neighbors to my in-laws and they go to the same church.  Whenever we visit Patrick's parents we usually sit behind Lynette and her family...It's fun to see them filling up the whole pew.  I've always admired the kind, warm way that Lynette and her husband interact with their kids.  Here are her thoughts!  (Oh, and remember, with all parenting topics, everyone parents according to their own opinions, values, and their kids' needs...It's totally ok to have differences in the way we parent!  But, we can ALL be kind and learn from each other!  Thanks!)

What are the ages of your kids?

We have 6 children. Oldest is 16, then 14, 11, 9, 6, and youngest is 4.

What is the toughest part about raising teens? 

I think the toughest part about raising teens is when they won't talk to you.  How can I help you when you won't talk to me?  Sometimes our teens do this.  We have tried several things but I will tell you 3 things that have helped.

1- We do weekly interviews with all our kids.  They know it is coming.  My husband and I do this together.

2 - If they decide to always give the classic teenage answer "I don't know" or even just a shoulder shrug, we tell them that is not an acceptable answer and they will be expected to say something.  Then we give them the option to talk now or at a later time.  Sometimes there are other times when my teenagers will just talk and talk and talk.  This is when we tell them how much we love it when they talk and tell us anything and everything and it's ok if it's totally random and then we ask them all the questions we want and they talk.

3 - Sometimes it helps for us as parents to talk first and tell them about our lives and things we struggle with or how we feel.  It helps them open up.  And don't forget to pray.  God is so very much on your side!  He wants you to help His children just as much as you do!

What is the best part of having teens?

The best part of having teens is all the fun things we can do together, talking to them about the little things that go on in high school, taking them out to lunch, surprising them at their seminary class with a treat, getting to know their friends, helping at their practices, rehearsals, and classes.  We just love being there.  We aren't the kind of parents to drop them off and wait in the car.  We love to come in and get to know their coaches, director's, and be a part of their practices and rehearsals.  This is so fun!!  My husband loves helping them with their homework.  His talent is tutoring math.  Some nights are late but he loves spending that time with them and learning together.

How do you find the balance between giving them rules verses giving them freedom to make choices?

We are not perfect at this, but one of the best things we can do is teach them why.  Teach them why we have this rule and that rule.  Teach them the doctrine behind the rule.  For example, we teach our teen girls that in junior high or high school, you don't share your problems with boys.  Why?  Because talking to a boy about your problems leads to emotional intimacy and "closeness" which can lead to physical "closeness."  We encourage them to just be friends and have fun together!  If you have a bad day, tell your girlfriends, your siblings, or your parents about it.  So, we teach them why.  Then many times we tell our teenagers, "Now you watch the girls in high school and watch the ones who have boyfriends and see what happens." So many times this has taught the lesson better than we could.  We all know teenage relationships don't last; they bring so much drama and heartache and up and down.  When our girls saw this over and over again with their closest friends, it helped them realize how much they didn't want that.

I love the verse of scripture: "wickedness never was happiness."  It is so simple and so true.  If you go against the commandments of God, you will not be happy.  When our kids have questions we ask them "What does Jesus say about this?" or "What have the leaders in our church counseled us about this?"  Our kids have not been perfect and they have made lots of mistakes.  But hopefully they have learned from their mistakes. 

How do you talk about the tough stuff - morality, sex, etc...?

My advice here is do it ALL THE TIME and start when they are young.  We talk about this every week in our interviews.  Tell me all the boys you like - think are cute, have a crush on, like to be around etc...  We talk about their body and how it is changing and what questions they have.  We talk about sex and marriage and pregnancy and having babies.  Sometimes we just teach them one thing about their body or about sex.  Then they can ask more if they want.  But when we bring it up every week, then they know it is a common subject with their parents and when they are wondering about something, they can ask!  And again, teach the doctrine.  Teach the sacredness of your body and of marriage.  It is all given to us by God and don't let the world ruin it and pollute it!

How do you encourage them in their interests?

This is fun!  We love to allow them to try new things so they can explore their interests.  We like to take them places so they can explore different careers and hobbies.  We try to help them sign up for things and still have the balance of family time at home.  We try to praise them for their efforts and participation.  We also try to teach them about commitment.  They get to choose what they participate in and get involved in, and then they have to follow through and can't quit.  It's so fun to see them try things and grow.  I have to remind myself why we do all these things for our kids.  I have to think about why we are here on earth and what is really important and find the place for developing talents without letting it get in the way of other important things.  And we talk to our kids about praising God in all we do and recognizing that our talents come from Him and we have talents to praise and serve Him.

How do you work with your husband in teaching your kids?

Doing our weekly interviews together is really good because we both know the current needs of each of our children.  My husband is so good at things that I struggle with.  He is better at talking to our kids much of the time.  And his priesthood blessings (a special kind of prayer that the Father gives to a child through the inspiration and direction of the Spirit) really help our kids.  It also helps to talk privately as husband and wife about each child and how to help them.  Then we are more united on helping them.  And God inspires us to know what to do as we discuss their needs.

Reading stories with Dad on Father's day.

Thank you so much Lynette!  There were so many good ideas there!  I appreciate how deliberate, mindful, and prayerful they are in their parenting.   I also love their tactic for talking about the hard stuff....just do it!  Frequently and comfortably!  Then your kids know that they are safe/ok topics and that they can talk to mom and dad about anything.  Brilliant. :)  

Oh, and...I totally remember saying, "I don't know." when my parents would ask me what was wrong...ha!  *Sigh...I had some bratty moments....like my whole junior year.  :)

What do you think?  Mommas, how do you balance rules vs. freedom with your kids?  How do you talk about the tough subjects?  (Whew...I'm feeling glad that the toughest subject my son and I are dealing with right now is how it's not appropriate to put our blanket in the toilet!)  How do you work as a team with your husband?  And ladies, what about your parents--did you have a really open relationship them?  Do you wish they had been more or less involved in your choices?  How did they help you in your choices?  We'd love to hear from you.  :) And, if you loved this post, please Like/Share using the buttons below! 

Also, if you're new here to SOM, welcome! :)  Be sure to "Like" the blog on the upper right to get facebook updates when we have more awesome posts!  We have a lot of fun around here.  :)

P.S. Check out this awesome wisdom from my mother-in-law about finding balance in a busy family with lots of extra curricular activities...she's knows what she's talking about too, cause she has raised/is still raising 5 teens. :)


  1. I love the idea of weekly interviews. What kinds of things do you normally ask your kids? Is it the same for everyone or do you personalize it depending on each child's specific needs or a little of both?

  2. Kayla, great question. I have a list on my phone of things to talk about at interviews - grades, friends, talents, interests, goals, how they are doing with their personal prayer and personal relationship with God, questions they have about their body, their budget and teaching them to be wise with their money.... things like this. Then often times throughout the week I think of things I need to address with a certain child. This last week I noticed my 11 year old is having trouble with honesty and thinks its ok to say he did something when he really didn't. So I talked to him about it and I told him I was going to pray about it and ask God how to help him and I asked him to also pray and ask God for help with this. Then I told him we will talk more about it at interviews. Many times throughout the week God gives me little thoughts of things I need to talk about with this child or that child and I try to write them down so I don't forget to talk about them at our interviews. I hope this helps ;-)


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