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Tips for Parenting Teens

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Teaching young, nearly adult people to be responsible is important to help them be successful in their adult lives. This guide contains tips for parenting teens.


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May 6, 2009

We got a simple little alarm clock to put in the living room near the front door. Before either of my teenagers goes out in the evening, we make sure it's set to match the cell phone time, and that the alarm is set for the time I want them home. It's the teenager's responsibility to turn off the alarm before it sounds.

This way, there's no confusion about whether a child was home on time or not, whether being on the porch "counts", etc. Either they're inside and turn the alarm off, or it makes a noise and they're late. If they were to call and need a legitimate time extension, then I could reset the clock for them.

For the record, they've not been late even once with this in place. It's a charm!

Source: A friend of mine told me his mother did this years ago, and he liked the simplicity as a teen.

By Weavre Cooper from Pennsylvania

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By 2 found this helpful
April 14, 2015

Hi, I have gone through these upsets. If the doctor has checked for drugs and depression, then go into how the youth feels. Some people have been bullied in to doing things that are life changing ,so tell your youth how much you love them and how worried you are and how not one thing in this life could stop your love and understanding. Let that filter in for a bit then take your youth out for a treat and a chat.


Find a quiet park or beach to walk and talk, do not stare. Then no matter what comes out, be quiet and calm faced. Ask questions like "Is that all you are willing to say?" or "Do you need more time?" Be sure you have all the information before you offer advice or talk of examples. Be kind. No matter how much you hurt, this is about the youth not the parent.

I had a boy teen that had a health problem start showing only after the hormones climbed high. The doctors could not find it at that time, but now it is easier for them to detect. Love helps with all kinds of things but you must make the overwhelming steps.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 21, 2010

Does anyone have any ideas on how I can encourage my teens ages 18 and 20 to cook for themselves? They are both in college and not working at this time. A friend told me I should buy a lot of microwavable foods like Hot Pockets to make it easy for them. I will be purchasing a George Foreman grill and a Fry Daddy this week to help them. I am just getting tired of cooking everyday for picky eaters.


By Onesummer


September 21, 20100 found this helpful

You may not like my response. If I were in your same situation, I would lay down the law and not cook for them. They will definitely cook for themselves or go hungry.

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September 21, 20100 found this helpful

If they live at home and eat with the rest of the family there should be no problem if you cook for the whole family. The rule would be eat what is fixed for everybody or find something on your own. If they live in apartments, they should be able to figure it out for themselves. If you bring food to them they never will figure it out.

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September 21, 20100 found this helpful

I would plan and post my menu at the beginning of the week, I would either tell them, or post a note, that THIS is what will be served. If whatever is being served does not suit them, they are free to fend for themselves. You could make a list of alternative suggestions: sandwiches, hot pockets, frozen pizza, etc. that they can prepare for themselves. (And make it clear they must clean up after themselves.)


I think I might avoid the fry-daddy as 1. no one needs that much fried food, and 2. they are likely to create a big mess with it that I cannot imagine they'll clean up.

The other bonus with a menu, you can make specific request for things they can help with, if you are not home when it is time to start meal preparation.

But they will never develop any independent skills if you don't force them to!

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September 21, 20100 found this helpful

This might sound bad, but are they lazy and unwilling, or just kind of ignorant (about cooking) and don't know what to do/where to start?

If they're just being lazy and picky, I think you should cook whatever YOU like, and that's that. Perhaps even fix foods you know that they don't care for. They can learn not to be picky, or get off their bottoms and fix something for themselves.


If they don't really know what to do, include them in your cooking. Teach them how to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Can you believe . . . when we got together, my husband made "grilled cheese" by toasting bread in the toaster, then microwaving it with cheese. That was 20 years ago, and it was okay to him. I wouldn't touch it! Now he knows how to make a real grilled cheese! Get a box of Hamburger Helper, and supervise. Or have them make tacos with you, they'd not only brown the meat, but have to chop up the lettuce, and make them grate the cheese (not buy the pre-grated stuff). Teach them how to bake a potato in the microwave for convenience. Or something in the crock pot (pulled pork is super easy and good guy food). These sorts of things are simple, and can serve as stepping stones for learning something more like home-cooking. And while you're at it, show them how immediately loading the dishwasher and quickly cleaning up the pots and pans makes everything easier.


I agree with Jilson about not getting the Fry Daddy. They're probably going to make a big mess, and if they don't know what they're doing it can be dangerous.

I hope they learn soon. I know that it's annoying to fix something for everyone, and someone will complain but not be motivated enough to fix something that they like. Best of luck to you!

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

At 18 and 20 they should be cooking for you, at my house I do not ask what they want to eat, I plan the menu, I cook it, they have the choice to eat or not eat, no eating just what you like and ignoring the rest, they choose not to eat, they get nothing until breakfast. My kids are 14,14,12,11. I started that right from the get go, they eat anything I put down, my 14 year old girl can cook a meal by her self, her brother simpler stuff, the 12 and 11 year old have to help prepare the meals, then they have turns at cleaning up the kitchen, I no longer do that.

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

I am not trying to be mean but I have to ask, "Are you kidding?" I was cooking for myself by the age of 12, except for Sunday family meals together, and my parents did not teach me! I learned by following recipe directions and adjusting to my own liking and we didn't have a microwave and my parents did not buy frozen foods for my brother or me!

18 and 20 and don't have added stress of a job outside of going to college? I think it's time they learn to be independent! Swim or sink and go hungry! If they don't want to cook they can learn to eat lots of raw fruits and veggies ;-)

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

Sorry, I agree with the others-you shouldn't have to encourage these 2 young adults to cook for themselves, they should be doing it by now anyway. If they don't know how to cook, that is a disservice to them, what are they going to do when they go out on their own?

Do you have younger children at home that you have to cook for, or just the older 2? If it's just the older 2, then you should think about setting certain days-like Friday and/or weekends where they are on their own.

Tell them you will teach them some basics if they are interested. Buy them cookbooks to help them, there are a lot of easy books & even cookbooks for kids that teach everything.

If you are willing to buy their food, then tell them they need to make a grocery list for what they need.

My kids have always been on their own for lunch on the weekends. Even my 12 yr old knows how to make ramen noodles, grilled cheese, mac & cheese, etc.

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

Easy. Don't cook for them, they will figure it out. You are not doing them a favor by spoiling them this way. It's the same as enabling. Just Stop It!

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

Quit cooking for them, throw out leftovers, buy parsnips, cauliflower, potatoes, squash, carrots that need peeling, cabbage. You get the idea. You can leave out a basic cookbook and they can figure out how to buy and cook for themselves. Oh yeah, don't give them money for food.

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

I have to agree with the other responses. You have created the "monsters" By doing everything for them. I started cooking when I was a very young child. My mother knew that it was part of her being a responsible parent to encourage me to do so.
Stop cooking for them. Start letting them grow up. And please don't buy a lot of unhealthy microwavable food. Buy fresh ingredients and get them a cook book....

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful

Ok, you got slammed so this post will be positive. I have a 19 year old grandson who lives on his own, works, and goes to school. And yes, he basically lives on pizza, but wants to do better. I compiled a cook book for him of meals that have 3, 5 and 6 ingredients. They are tasty, fast, and healthier than fry daddy's.
This is a good place to start:

It's long, but it covers a lot and there are more sites you can visit to get great ideas than you will ever need. Also, you can do the same at the library, and it just might inspire you to try them at home, then if they like them, they will take them with them when they fly the nest.

Another good idea is something I do. I have a veggie night, a salad night, a pasta night, etc. Then, I can plan my menus and shopping lists and and not have to shop so often.

Don't give up. If they develop good habits and food likes now, they will be healthier and happier when they do leave.

Good luck dear. Remember, they can't take away your birthday!

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September 23, 20100 found this helpful

Even though you've had an earful now about what you should have done, let me tell you it is NOT too late. Forget the Fry Daddy. And forget most of the frozen dinners. These young people both need to get on with LIVING, without your taking care of their nutrition every day. If they are not working, they have time to learn to cook. They know how to eat. Have them fix soup and a sandwich, scrambled eggs with bacon cooked on paper towels in the microwave. Grilled ham and cheese. About the easiest dinner to make is a pot roast in a crock pot. Brown the meat in a skillet on the stove, before putting it in the crock pot. Now add an onion, chopped, or a package of onion soup mix. Add a can of mushrooms and a can of diced tomatoes and let it cook on low for 5-6 hours, then add carrots, potatoes, celery, and finish cooking. If two college students can't make this, we're all in big trouble. And mom, Tough Love is over due. GG Vi

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Answer this Question...

By 0 found this helpful
January 14, 2009

Does anybody know of any good online sites, magazines, or books that help you understand your teenager (female). There seems to be so many for raising younger ones but the teenage years can be hard on some of us parents. I'm kind of surprised there is not a magazine (that I can find anyway) on parenting teenagers although I know there are books - the ones I have browsed have not been helpful.

Marie from MA


January 14, 20090 found this helpful

Marie- I'm a woman of faith and anytime I need parenting help, I turn to Focus on the Family. They have excellent books on the subject and their website is informative as well. Just go to: then click on "Parenting". They also have magazines for teen girls; you can find these by going to: Hope this helps! :)

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January 14, 20090 found this helpful is devoted to Christian resourses and they have a magazine entitled "Living with Teenagers." It is wonderful! You can subscribe for yourself or some churches buy the subscriptions in bulk and they are free for those who wish to take one.

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January 14, 20090 found this helpful

My teen girls and I take a relaxing drive in the car and I open the "Can of Worms" with the simple question, "Got anything you want to talk about?" Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. But at least we talk! I think it has to do with the fact that they can look at the scenery while listening, instead of looking me in the eye!

They may be kids but they are people too and need to know they WILL be heard, and NOT judged. "You are not a bad person, this is just very bad behavior." Of course it depends on how drastic the problem is too, and some things don't go away without professional help, but I have found that when my (2 years younger) sister is in the car with us, and we (Sis and I) are talking about some adult subject that can be "tricky" when discussed around teen girls, that my kids are all ears and trying hard to look UNinterested.

HOWEVER, they will ask me voluntary questions about the same subject the following week or so, or shyly add their own thoughts.

P.S. Give the other adult the heads up that it's ok to discuss something like STDs infront of the kids, and that a tap on your knee means too deep into the subject-cease and desist! LOL that works well for me and Sis.

Share with them the pitfalls of your own life. How did you really feel when that other girl called the clothes you were wearing skanky, or you were dared to kiss the cute guy. Let them learn that you are only human after all, went through a lot of the things they will encounter in school, and life, and the lines of communication will, hopefully, open up.

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By (Guest Post)
January 14, 20090 found this helpful

Thank You. I will check into those - my daughter actually gets Brio magazine but I think I might start reading it too.

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January 16, 20090 found this helpful

My daughter swears by a book called "Parenting with Love and Logic", and she says there is one specifically for teens, too.

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By Bette (Guest Post)
January 17, 20090 found this helpful

Ditto on the Love and Logic. Their books give hands on practical ideas for how to deal with lots of different situations at all different ages. They also have programs for teachers and there are schools that teach their teachers how to use these easy, non confrontational methods for changing inappropriate behavior. Their web site is:

Good Luck

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By Steve B (Guest Post)
January 18, 20090 found this helpful

You may want to take a look at the teen toolkit. It specifically addresses parenting teenagers.

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December 23, 20090 found this helpful

Well I don't know any, but if you have any specific questions I could answer them for you. I'm 16 and I know my mom has trouble understanding me sometimes and she just asks me for what she wants to know. I know some aren't as open as I am to help out with this, but I would love to help in any way I can :) Just message me and I'll send you my email or something.

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October 2, 20140 found this helpful

I have concerns about a 13 year old girl and her 14 year old friend being dropped off at concerts/theme parks with no adult supervision. Are her dad and I overreacting or is this neglect?

I have a 13 year old stepdaughter (turned 13 in June) whose mom dropped her and a friend off at a theme park (when she was 12) for the day by themselves with no adult. Now we found out that she is dropping her and a friend (who is 14) off at a concert on Friday night again with no adult supervision. She has been dropping her off at the movie theater for a year now and we do not agree with that, but when we found out about the theme park and now a concert the movies seem insignificant (even though it's not).

Her dad has no say in any of this as it just makes the mom mad and it's an argument and she does it anyway. Mom's argument is that daughter is a responsible girl. We also figured out that daughter is not lying to her dad and I about these "ventures" she just neglects to tell us and then she slips and that's how we find out.

I need to say that I have grown children and I know that times are much different than when my children were young, but I am horrified on so many levels and just don't know what to do. The stress of worrying about these little girls is overwhelming. I personally feel like this is a form of child abuse/neglect.

My question is: Are her dad and I just being overprotective and overreacting or is this the way it is with teens these days? How many parents out there feel that it is OK to drop your 13 year old daughter and a girlfriend off at a concert or a them park unsupervised and pick them up when it's over?

By Oliver J

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