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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Kelly

Parenting Teenagers: Embracing The Challenges With Love


Father and teen

Parenting often feels like navigating through a maze blindfolded, especially when our kids transition into the unpredictable world of adolescence, brimming with their own thoughts and perspectives that sometimes clash with ours.


It's a journey filled with twists and turns, where the terrain can often leave us feeling disoriented and overwhelmed.

 

In today's world, information about parenting is everywhere.


From books and articles to social media and well-meaning advice from friends and family, there's no shortage of guidance on how to be a great parent and raise well-adjusted teens.


Amidst this sea of information, there's also a tidal wave of conflicting opinions and expectations.


This abundance of guidance, while well-meaning, can often lead to feelings of inadequacy and confusion as we strive to do what's best for our children and families.

 

As parents, we're bombarded with messages about what we should or shouldn't do, how we should discipline, what activities our kids should be involved in, and even what foods they should eat.


It's easy to feel pressured to live up to these standards, and to measure our success as parents based on external markers of achievement.


Coupled with the pressures of societal expectations, the influence of social media showcasing only the highlight reel of parenting, and the weight of historical norms and experiences, it's no wonder that many parents feel overwhelmed and second-guess their every decision.


Family spending quality time together

There's no handbook or one-size-fits-all approach to mastering parenthood or guiding our children unscathed into adulthood.


Every child is unique, with their own strengths, challenges, and personality quirks, defying easy solutions or quick fixes.


What works for one family may not work for another, and that's perfectly okay. Yet, as parents, there's an unspoken expectation that we should have it all figured out, that we should navigate the twists and turns flawlessly.

 

But let's remind ourselves that we're not machines programmed to follow a set of instructions; we're human beings with flaws, emotions, and imperfections.


Life rarely unfolds as neatly as it does in a book or a social media post. We all stumble, make mistakes, and grapple with doubts along the way.

 

Instead of striving for unattainable perfection or comparing ourselves to impossible ideals, let's focus on creating a nurturing and loving environment for our children.


Let's embrace our humanity and acknowledge that it's okay to not have all the answers.


Let's highlight connection, communication, and understanding.


Let's embrace the messiness of parenting - the moments of joy, the challenges, the mistakes, and the growth that comes with it.


Let's approach parenting with compassion, flexibility, and an open mind, understanding that what works today may not work tomorrow.


Let's prioritize love and safety above all else, knowing that our children need a nurturing environment where they feel valued, supported, and secure.


Teens working on schoolwork

So, let's be kind to ourselves as parents, forgive ourselves for our missteps, celebrate our successes, and navigate this journey with resilience, empathy, and a whole lot of love.


It's important to remember that we're all doing the best we can with the knowledge and resources we have.


There's no shame in seeking support, asking for help when needed, or admitting that we don't have all the answers.


Parenting is a journey of learning and growth, not a destination of perfection.


Let's celebrate the small victories, learn from our mistakes, and above all, show ourselves and our children compassion and love every step of the way.



Bonnie Kelly is a Registered Provisional Psychologist specializing in working with families and teens struggling with identity, gender, relationships, and school. She is passionate about helping people better understand and express themselves, find their strengths, connect, and thrive. Bonnie provides affirming online therapy for individuals, families, and couples in Calgary and across Alberta, especially for neurodiverse, gender diverse, and 2SLGTBQIA+ folks.

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