How Did Your Parents Parent YOU as Teens, and Did It "Work"?

Updated on May 21, 2012
R.J. asks from Seattle, WA
17 answers

Yep! Spinning off.

I've noticed a trend lately of toddler parents griping at the way older kids are being parented, tween parents griping at teen parenting, etc.. It all smacks me rather hard of non parents talking about parenting in general. I know the one thing a LOT of us have learned is that we CAN'T say what we'd do when we reach 'x' stage, if we haven't been there, yet. (terrible 2s, gradeschool, middle school, teen years, grand parenting, etc.)

There are also precious few teen and grown children parents/grandparents on this board (Please chime in with both you as a kid and your kids as teens!)

So I'm curious, how did your parents do the teen thang, and how did it work on you? If you're a parent of teens or grown kids, did you take a page from your parent's book? Or burn the pages?

Saturday morning musings!

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So What Happened?

My stuff in a bit. Typing on my phone irks me :D

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answers from Houston on

My dad never let me leave the house and as a result I snuck out almost every night to meet my friends and boyfriends over the years. This teaches me now not to be too strict., but too lenient produces similar results.

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answers from Austin on

Our daughter is graduating from college tomorrow!

We are so proud and thrilled.

We raised her the way my mom raised me. She was allowed to be herself and we followed her lead.

We knew her personality and what made HER tick.

We assumed the best behaviors from her. She lived up to this. When she had tantrums, melt downs, stbburness, we xpressed first concern by saying... I am sorry you seem so frustrated. Or we are sorry, you are not happy with your choice.

The other way we handled these behaviors was to say, we are disappointed that you are not behaving the way, we know you can behave.

Or asked her, how can you fix this...or how can we help you.

We were positive about her good behaviors. We made positive comments when we witnessed others, having good behaviors. She then understood what she was observing.

We listened to her, to her ideas and we encouraged her to try. If it did not work out, we did not tease or make a big deal.

When we made mistakes or had disagreements, we worked it out, we apologized, and we admitted it.

We spoke about an education from an early age with her. We spoke about the possibilities, and let her know, if she workd hard, she could do anything.

We also spoke about how negative behaviors caused people to lose privileges, to get into bad trouble. This could have an effect on her future.

We would point this out to her, by classmates, that made poor choices and got in trouble.. And as she got older, spoke openly about our own mistakes and regrets in our choices.

When she began middle school. We spoke about teen pregnancy and what the responsibility of having a child would do to her future.

We spoke about her dreams, what did she want for herself and how to achieve these goals.

We NEVER punished her for her grades. Instead we asked her to do her best.

If she failed at something or she was-not pleased with her work, we would ask, " did you do your best?" she was her hardest critic.

We told her we knew she was a good person and trust her choices. We told her she could go out with friends etc.. But if she broke our trust, she would have to work hard to earn it back.

She knew to ask us anything, to ask for help, to ask for what she needed. IF we could not help we tried to find someone to help her. We were honest about who we are. If we were a little nervous, we admitted it.

We listened to her teachers and trusted them.

We showed her how hard we had to work for the little we had, because we did not complete our educations.

We were not perfect and we admit this all of the time. But we also tell her to follow her heart and brain, take the high road and to take chances that she can live with...

We will always be on her team.

My husbands parents never did this. They always seem to expect the worst. They NEVER shared ther mistakes. They made threats. They had a list of rules. They were great at placing unreachible expectations on him that he has never felt like a success. I can never forgive them. My husband is a sweet soul. An honest man and very hard worker, but because he did not reach their education or career goals, they seem disappointed.

This put so much pressure on my husband, he is still a nervous wreck. we agreed we would never do this to our child.

Just do your best. Know your own child and what makes them tick. And use this to help them be the best of themselves.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My parents did nothing, really. I parented myself as a teen. It worked, for me. However, I was an unusually responsible teen. I don't think this would work with most teens. Most teens should not be left alone with no structure, parenting, affection, supervision, care, etc. I was lucky I cared about myself enough. The average teen with there, but totally absent parents...probably wouldn't go down a great path.

Burn the pages, baby!! I don't even have a teen and I KNOW I will be different. It's kind of impossible not to be. I do help raise my niece who is a teen, and boy do I do things differently with her.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Parenting philosophies ought to be consistent from toddler to teenage. It's just the implementation that changes as the child grows.

My parents raised us to be independent. This meant giving us a lot of responsibility from a young age.This naturally carried over into our teen years.

To do this, they gave us 1) a lot of trust, 2) a lot of room to make mistakes, and 3) experiences that nurture maturation.

For example, at 17, I got a traffic ticket. My parents didn't get upset, but they did require that I pay the ticket fine myself, find and register for the nearest traffic school, and communicate with our auto insurance carrier. That was quite a tall order! But I learned how to work with the DMV and auto insurance, not to get any more traffic tickets, and that my parents believed that I could handle all of this.

I think teens want to be viewed as bonafide adults, not like children. My parents treated us this way, even though they knew we would get into trouble sometimes. But the result is a mutual respect, expectation, and trust.

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answers from Dallas on

My parents parented my brother and I very similarly to the way that Laurie described, and my husbands parents did too. We are doing the same. We do have a teenager now, and things are going well, so far.

With both of our children, we have high expectations because we know what they are capable of, and they meet those expectations. When they do misbehave, we use the consequence as a teachable moment. The punishment fits the crime.

I think my mom was/is a wonderful parent, but I do think she was too lenient with me. She didn't have very high standards for me in some areas, such as with boyfriends. She assumed I would have sex as a teenager, so she just gave up that battle. If she had talked to me about the consequences of having sex before you're ready, I would have listened. I really respected her, even as a teen, but she didn't even have the discussion. That's one area where we are different. Overall, though, our parenting is similar.

My husband and I had/have good relationships with our parents, and now we also have good relationships with our children. So far, we seem to be on the right track. Communication and consistency seem to be key.

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answers from Biloxi on

Hmmm, this got long -

Oh, God Bless my parent's, but they were just different. Of course, mom was bi-polar and could not help it, and Dad wound up raising two teenage girls after she passed away, and he was clueless. Poor guy.

As a young child, when Mom was with us, we spent a lot time hanging out in the art department of the university she attended - this was back in the 70s and "tamed" hippies were very much our friends - we were exposed to many things that our peers were not. I actually thought it was normal to have picnics on the quad and wave at the streakers that often came to our house for dinner (with clothing on). Eh, what was a little nudity amongst friends. LOL

When I was in high school my poor father really was not sure how to handle us. My sister was something of a wild child and since I was, honestly, better behaved, I had massive privileges. I had too much freedom. I was an excellent student and it took very little effort for me to maintain my grades - so I skipped my way through High school scrapping the limit on absences and demerits. Not a pretty picture.

Fortunately I was one of those teens that with too much freedom quickly became bored and found developing a structure for myself was preferable to random abandon. I began to spend a lot time at my Grandmother's - who also spoiled me, but expected more from me also. So I evened out. But, the entire teen years left me somewhat aimless. Without a strong parent behind me to help me build goals and dreams I was rather rudderless through my 20s.

I am now the parent of an almost 16 year old boy. I found while raising him, that I did many things differently than my parents. Especially when he entered high school (he just finished 10th). I set boundaries, limits, expectations, and goals. We talk about the future - college, marriage, adulthood - I encourage him to dream and realistically discuss ways to make those dreams reality.

He does have massive privileges also, but he understands that with those come responsibility - he is expected to pay for his auto insurance, etc. when he starts driving. (things I did not pay for as a teen). He is expected to get a job as soon as he can - in fact this summer, once he turns 16 it is either a job, or he will be cleaning and re-organizing our house all summer. He will work, one way or another. :)

I do expose him to many of the things my parents exposed me to - art, music, literature, cultures - but in a milder manner - not with the desperate intensity that my mother imparted to it all.

While I want my son to grow up - I did not want him to grow up as fast as I did. So, I have slowed it down for him. In some ways, he is young for his age - he maintains a naivete that is charming - and that I am trying to move him away from as a natural part of the maturation process. Because now it time to focus more on the man that he will be in the future.

The groundwork is laid - honesty, commitment, strong moral compass - but now it is time for me to teach him how to use all that.

So, I guess, in answer to the question - I burned the book that my parents' wrote. They were amazing, talented, tortured people, whom I loved desperately - but I wanted to write an easier book for my son to read.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We were kept very busy. We did activities in school and after school. We were expected to excel in our schoolwork and we did. We were expected to be home at night for dinner unless we were at school -- and we were. We always had a family meal. We didn't have our own cars. We didn't have TVs in our rooms. We had lots of friends. We could get away with nothing as everyone knew us and knew our parents. We expected to behave appropriately and the number 1 rule was: Don't shame your mother.

My children: 1 in college and 1 rising senior in high school
They are both very busy. They are both expected to behave appropriately. The oldest has a car, but it is in my name and since I pay for the insurance, I control it. I can take that car back at any moment. :-) I have not had to take the car back for anything except for the one time (his 3rd outing alone with the car) he forgot to call when he got to his destination -- he never forgot again.
I have always been consistent with rules and discipline. I've always been available to them. I am involved in their school, their activities, and their lives. We have a family meal almost every night - even if it's a quick trip to McDo. We connect as a family. My husband and I are supportive, loving, and with one year left, ready for the youngest to spread her wings and head off to college in a year.
The one thing you have to remember is that if you can't control them at age 2, then you won't be able to control them at age 17.
Be consistent. Be firm. Don't ever let them see you sweat. And always present a united front.

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answers from Sherman on

i burned the pages,

my mom died of cancer when i was 11yrs old and my dad checked out early when it came to parenting a tween, he married a women who hated me from day one and her only goal in life was to see me/(the threat gone) like i was able to do anything, so at 13 my dad asked me to move out and i spent the next 5 yrs bouncing from house to house, at one point being homeless, and i swore no matter what i would never raise my kids the way i had been raised

now that being said, i would say im a ride the fence kind of mom, i let my kids get away with way to much and spoil them until i cant stand when we are able to, but i have this thing with i dont wont them to have a bad child hood, but to be fair i have some pretty great kids, i may not agree with or do as other parents, parent but i want to be somewhere between MOM and best friend to my kids.

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answers from San Francisco on

My parents divorced when I was 9. My mom's energy went to working and recovering from a cheating spouse. Yes, she was around but I got away with a lot in my teens. In part, because I had to be so responsible at a young age. You name it, I tried it. Learned what I wanted and got a degree so that I would not be stuck like my mom.

Now I only work part-time but have a spouse who balances our family life well. We try to let the kids be responsible but still be kids. They know we are in charge of the house. Break the rules and there are consequences. They also know they do not get handed every little thing they want.

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answers from Eugene on

I burnt the pages! My parents did the best job they new how, I believe, but I've never thought that verbal belittlement and spanking with a belt resolved anything. I remember it leaving me feeling resentment and anger. Working was mandatory when I was a teen and we had to just "figure out" the school portion. Luckily, I was a good student and liked being independent. I wasn't into any kind of party scene and my friends were much like me that way.

With my daughter, I have taken parenting on a completely different route. Communication has always been open, supportive, loving and encouraging since she could speak. As a teen (senior in High school now), that hasn't changed. We discuss each day and if she is facing challenges with school, friends or life, we still take time to talk about how it makes her feel, ways to resolve it and the lessons she can learn from it. I tell her what I would do or would have done, share any similar experiences when I was her age, what she could do or wants to do and the ramifications of all, to all involved.

Our relationship is a very close one, and while some would say I am too much a friend to my child, that doesn't mean that she hasn't been raised without firm direction. She knows right from wrong, respects my authority as her parent and is respectful of other adults. She has clear rules and always has. Breaking those rules results in consequences and will be implemented.

To me, communication is key. At all ages and stages of a child's life. It encourages thought about others as well as oneself. Instead of acting on impulse and gut reaction (which can be a dangerous thing with raging hormones) she takes times to reason it out and come to the best conclusion for her and others.

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answers from Boca Raton on

Though they did many things "right" and I'm so grateful for them, my parents were way more hands-off than I am with my teens (18 & 14). In some ways it was OK for me and in other ways it wasn't. I think it took me a long time to feel OK about myself. I got into an early marriage that was completely wrong relationship-wise, other than the wonderful son I got from it.

With my own teens I am very present, and probably overly-involved, in their lives. The upside is that I KNOW they both feel loved, and they're secure. I don't see them doing the stupid stuff I did at their ages.

The only downside I see is that they are not as motivated to leave home and spread their wings LOL. And I'm fine with that! I was chomping at the bit to go as far away from home as possible, and that's not always a bad thing, even if it is for negative reasons.

I pray alot for my children. Ultimately it is in God's hands. I just thank Him for entrusting them to me.

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answers from Chicago on

My parents were pretty laisse faire, although they THINK they were strict. We were latchkey kids, so they really couldn't enforce their rules. We were, um, how shall I say....LUCKY to have survived our adolesence with clean records (except for my little bro) and to live to tell about our adventures.

What will I do? To start, I am quite blessed to be able to be a SAHM, so I will be able to do things that my mother was never able to--like, host my kids' friends at our home so I know what they are doing, etc.

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answers from Norfolk on

My Mom raised my sister and me the same way.
It worked well for me.
My sister went nuts.
Neither of us dated till we were 16, but she dated a lot of guys, got a reputation for being particularly spiteful during break ups (she egged the inside of one guys car) and then got involved with a pot smoking guy who was beating her and she was inviting him into our house to rob the place.
We both lived at home for college - we could not afford to live on campus.
I earned my degree.
My sister dropped out in her freshman year to spend more time with the pot head.
My Mom had to have her evicted when she turned 18.
My sister rented a room (pot head didn't take her in and dumped her) and she worked 3 minimum wage jobs for a year and a half before she went to live with Dad where she eventually earned an accounting degree, and Dad had to have her evicted, too.
I got a job in my field a year after college (worked at Wendy's for resume money) and 3 years later married my high school sweetheart and we bought our mow home later that year.
My Mom did the best she could but my sister just cuts off her own nose to spite her face.
My sister tries to be a friend with her daughter, who at 12 is now starting to hit her and she's cutting herself from time to time and sees no less than 3 counselors.
My son does well in school, is popular with out caring a lot about it, has a black belt, plays clarinet and is very close to us but we're his parents, not his friends and we say 'No' when we think it's appropriate..
I do pretty much the same with him as my Mom did with me and it's working fairly well.

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answers from Austin on

My parents weren't overly strict, and I wasn't very rebellious. So I guess I turned out OK. Mostly they just set a good example of a quiet, stable, educated, churchgoing family. I went to a private high school where I was able to focus on schoolwork and avoid the bad influences and drama. It helped me prepare for college because it had some self-paced classes, night classes, and some boarding students. I lived at home, but got to see the dorm room life style without getting sucked into it. Overall, my parents provided a peaceful environment with plenty of books, music, art, and nature which suited me perfectly.

What I wish they had done differently was let me drive more in high school, so that I could have had a summer job. Instead, I didn't get my license til I was 19 and am still not a confident driver. During the summer, without a car I might spend a whole week at home without going out anywhere except to church. Maybe they should have encouraged me to get out more. Since I wasn't able to get a job without a car in high school, and they didn't want me to work during college because I'd lose my scholarship, I didn't get the job experience that would have helped me later.

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answers from Honolulu on

For me when I was a Teen: (my kids are not teens):
My late Dad, had ALWAYS fostered a "relationship" with his children. Always. It was not him being a "Buddy" to us, but a Parent. But, he treated each of us as individuals, and respected "who" we were and knew us VERY well, and accepted us for who we were. He was not judgmental, but also taught us things, via verbally and through real life examples. He'd even take us as children, to his high powered business meetings. He was always an open book. He explained to us, why he does what he does... why he says what he does, why he chose certain things versus others. He talked to us about how he grew up. He taught us about our culture. He taught us about being empowered and to speak up.... and to know right from wrong, in an ethical sense. Not it being based upon personal or religious beliefs. Although he did teach us about his own beliefs. He taught us about world views. Not in a prejudiced manner. Thereby, respect for fellow beings, was taught. And he took us traveling all around the world, in order to educate us.

Again, he had a "relationship" with his kids. It not being based upon nor hinged upon, if we did as HE wanted, or upon punishments or rewards nor that everything we did was scolded. He knew, how to DISCERN.... his kids... and per their actions and per their outcomes both socially and per academics and interests/talents. And his "expectations" of us, was that we were self-assured children... who then, could also DISCERN, situations/people/friends/negotiations/problems etc.

That is how, I base my own child rearing upon. With my own kids.
Because my late Dad, was a great example of a "parent."
My Mom was too... but when younger, she was more cold and aloof and dictatorial. And judgmental type of parent.
Thus, we as children... and later as adults, were always closer to my late Dad. Because, he formed a relationship... with us. Not us just being a kid who either obeyed or not, and had to be a quota of what is wrong or right per the parent's ideals. My late Dad, knew we were all different personalities and had different needs and ways of expressing ourselves. He never.... "compared" us either, to other kids. Nor had the attitude of keeping up with the Jones'. He was himself. He taught his kids to be themselves, as well. That is golden.
He was not a follower. We were not followers. We knew ourselves and thereby, the "gift" of self-assurance, in his children, was gained and developed. As individuals.

And MOST importantly, he believed in us. Even when we made our own mistakes.
He believed in us. Never comparing.
We were not perfect. But, he KNEW that we could, conduct ourselves in a proper manner. Because, he knew us. And he could gauge us very well.
And, we as kids, would tell him anything. Because we knew we could. Because, of the way he viewed us and taught us.
We had a 'relationship' with him as well.
We knew, he always "liked" us as well as loved us.
And accepted us no matter what.

And, I am so blessed, that my own kids are very much like my late Dad. I teach them in a like manner. And per their own age-stages.

So to answer the question to the heading of your post:
Yes, it worked.

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answers from Seattle on

My Mom parented me away from trouble in my teens with one simple sentence when I was leaving the house to an event or whatever.

"Remember, a decision that you make today can potentially affect the rest of your life, buckle up and be safe, I love you".

Whenever I had a choice to make, I would hear her in my head...and I just never chose the wrong path. It worked for me...and I'll definitely use it on my kids.


answers from Philadelphia on

BURNT THE PAGES and ditched the ashes=)

My parents were young and had no role models. Both lost their moms at 9 years old and both had 7-9 brothers and sisters were 19 when they had my brother and 21 when they had M.. My parents both partied until I was 7ish. My dad was a physically and verbally abusive alcoholic, at times my brother stood between him and I with a knife to fend off my dad....not something I was to emulate.

My mom straightened up when I was around 7 and went to school for nursing and my dad drank away all of the money she earned. We often times had the utilities shut off, but he always had vodka and beer..anyway, yea I;m not going by their ways in raising my daughter. Also my dad was abnormally strict. I was punished if I didn't say hi right, if I looked at him wrong and various reasons...he was the drunk strolling down the blck screaming for M. 5 minutes before I had to be in. I plan to be more sensitive, connect with my daughter, be strict at times but not overly, and I plan to let her feel loved and love her even when I want to beat her (but never actually beat her=) )
I plan to make my own set of mistakes to which she will say she will never do, and I plan to never make the mistakes of my parents. I lpan to do the best I can=)

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