Understanding parent-teen relationships: 10 tips for parents with teens

Tom EkpoFamily, Friendship, Love, Parenting, Parents, Relationships, Teenagers 9 Comments

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Successful teenage parenting and a parent-teen relationship begin from the day the child is born. If not well managed, it goes sour and will be a pain-in-the-neck for both parents and teenagers. How can this season be turned into a source of joy, pride and laughter despite that teen years can be challenging, annoying and daunting? How can your relationship with your teenage child be improved? Ten tips for parents with teens will be of benefit to singles, single parents, new couples, couples who are yet to have children, couples with children and most importantly, couples with teenagers living with them. Who is a teenager?


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines an adolescent as any person between the ages of 10 and 21. This category falls within WHO’s definition of young people (individuals between ages 10 and 24). A teenager (or teen) is an adolescent or a young person who falls within the ages of 13 and 19.

Adolescence is the transition period between childhood and adulthood. This phase is characterised by cycles of physical, emotional, social and cognitive changes which causes anxiety for both parents and children. These changes usually lead to transformations in the teenagers’ relationship with themselves, parents, peers, male/female friends, and family. Hence, both parents and teenagers can be impacted by these changes.

Make no mistake about it, teenagers are beautiful people. The teen years can be wonderful if handled with wisdom, understanding and tact, but traumatic, challenging and frustrating if there is a lack of understanding of how to navigate this season.

Teenagers are trying to figure out a lot of things about themselves. They’ve just crossed the line of being children, but they are yet to become adults. Teenagers ponder on what or who they are. They wonder about the ‘new person’ they've turned into. It’s an extremely confusing season for them too.

"As they get to the teenage years, start thinking of liberating but guiding them through their decision-making process."

Meanwhile, you, as the parent, have little or no knowledge about what your teenagers are thinking. Most parents still think their teens are the little ‘children’ they have lived with all the while. Usually, parents are shocked to find out that their once ‘loyal’ and ‘obedient’ child is exhibiting some ‘strange’ behaviours and they can’t figure out where this ‘new child or personality’ came from. “Is this the child I gave birth to?” parents often ask.

This is why you need to learn and study the dynamics of the teenage years, understand it and equip yourself with the knowledge and attitudes to help your teenagers handle this season. If you have a deep understanding of what to expect from your teens at this stage, it will promote the healthy development of your teenagers.

I’m doubly sure that you’re not planning to have a six-year period (13 – 19 years) of frustrating experience raising your teenagers. Six years is too long a time to be frustrated, confused and clueless. Therefore, for you to avoid these years of frustration and be able to navigate the period of raising teenagers with less stress successfully, you should put the following tips to heart and practice them:

1.    Never forget you were once a teenager

Keep in mind that you had passed through the phase your teenager is passing through. Sometimes you forget you were once a teenager. Were you a ‘perfect’ teenager? I doubt that. This is the more reason you should be more understanding, deal with them with grace and be their coach. Always put yourself in their shoes and show empathy before you react.

2.    Know that you are the one in the driver’s seat

Enjoying or enduring teens parenting depends solely on you. Yes, you. Why? Because you are the parent or guardian. You are the one in-charge. You are their pillar of strength, help and inspiration. You must show them how to navigate through the teenage years and to provide them with authentic leadership. Help them to anticipate all the changes that are associated with the teenage years and support them throughout this period.

3.    Recognise their individuality and uniqueness

Trying to treat them like you were treated while growing up will always backfire. You need to understand that teenagers are unique, and their treatment should be based on their uniqueness. With wisdom, tact and determination, this is achievable. Again, don’t try to live your unaccomplished dreams and ambitions through them. It’s only pushy parents who try to live vicariously through their children, and I’m sure you’re not one of such parents. You are to guide them into the person God is making them become. Stop seeing them as an extension of yourself; it’s not helpful.

4.    Be real, please!

Parents, it is time to be real! Drop that fake life. It doesn’t last. For example, cry when you have to. Let them see you cry when something bad happens or when you’re hurt. That’s not a weakness; it’s humility! Don’t hide your emotions or your soft spots from them. Just be real. If there’s a need, cry with them, too. Tell them how you feel about situations and give your honest opinions.

5.    Show them unbiased love

Love them unconditionally. Be generous with hugs and positive affirmations. Make them feel loved and wanted. They know when you’re pretending to love them. They see it. Actions speak louder than words. Telling them you love them is good but showing them love in an appropriate way is better. Love them when they do something good or bad. Love them when they are right or wrong. Love them regardless of their actions or inactions.

6.    Talk, talk, and keep talking with them

Start early to hold conversations with your teens about relevant topics and issues. Talk about everything. Keep the communication lines open.


And don’t just be satisfied with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response from them. No. Ask questions about how their day at school went, who made them angry, what they are currently doing, and what they plan to do.

Enter into their ‘world.’ Share your daily experience, growing up experience, mistakes, work experience, and everything ‘sharable’ with them. Take the initiative. Maintain open communication about spirituality, healthy relationships, sex and sexuality. Have some chitchat with them. Be their gist partner. Talk to them at home, in the car, in the mall or the church. Communication is key when it comes to raising teenagers.

7.    Listen, listen, and listen some more

Let them be free to express themselves. Listen to everything (the good, the bad, and the ugly) they have to say, whether it makes sense to you or not. Just listen. Still listen to them even when it appears what they are saying sounds stupid or foolish. Don’t shut them down when they want to talk with you or when they ask questions (even the stupid ones). By doing this, you are building trust and gradually earning the right to be their buddy. Be easily accessible to them.

8.    Be present

Give them your undivided attention. Create activities you could do together to bond and connect with them. Get involved in their lives from the very start. Be intentionally involved in their spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual and social lives.

Make them your priority after God and your spouse. Don’t let your work, job, ministry, friends or whatever you’re doing become more important than spending time with them. It’s not worth it in the long run.

9.    Learn, unlearn, and relearn

Take time and effort to learn about the dynamics of the teenage years. Be open-minded. Read and research on teenagers. Learn from parents who have parented teenagers. Ask questions. What you knew five or ten years ago may not be relevant now. Keep on evolving.

Be up-to-date, learn new things, unlearn wrong things and mindsets, and relearn the things you once learned until you get it. Humble yourself, adapt quickly and be flexible. Don’t stop learning about teens! 

10.    Liberate and guide them

You've had control over them from their childhood. They've depended on you throughout their childhood years, and you've had a committed, loyal audience in them. It’s time to release them. As they get to the teenage years, start thinking of liberating but guiding them through their decision-making process.

Your job is to give them wings, but you have to let them fly. Don’t cage them. Give them room to make their mistakes and learn from them. Give them responsibilities and support them as they develop independence. For you to be attached to your teenagers in the long run, you need to detach yourself from them in the short term. Teenagers seek independence. Don’t let them hijack it, rather give it to them. Rebellion only sets in when you don’t release them.

The years of raising your teens can be a fun-filled and learning experience for you if you put these time-tested tips into practice. Check out our post on ways in which your relationship with your teenagers can be enhanced.

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Tom Ekpo is a Teens Life Coach at The Citadel Global Community Church®, Lagos, Nigeria. He is a professional copyeditor, proof-reader, and a prolific writer. Tom is the CEO of TACT Editorial House® - a foremost editorial organisation  that 

provides professional content development, copyediting, proofreading and copywriting services for individuals and corporate clients.

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Comments 9

  1. Thanks for the article. Its instructive. Parenting should not be done by chance. It should be intentional and deliberate. We need to seek for knowledge. We are in a different and difficult times, hence we need to bond and befriend our children especially as they grow to become teenagers . God will help us.

    1. Dear Bukola, Thank you for your kind comment. Tom Ekpo shared incontestable nuggets on parent-teen relationships. We are glad you enjoyed the article! Stay connected to this platform. Thanks.

  2. This is the best article with practical steps on Teens Parenting that I have read. Thank you Tom Ekpo for sharing these amazing and timeless practical nuggets on parent-teen relationships. Dazzling Insights, your posts are unequivocally engaging, timely, most-needed, and of course, full of impeccable and dazzling insights. Keep the great work going.

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