I’ve entered stage four of parenting homeschooled teenagers. (My fourth (& youngest) child turned thirteen last year…so stage four).
I’ve been in this parenting thing long enough to offer you ten ideas to support your teens.
I won’t be the mom to tell you that teenagers are so hard, that teenagers are so easy, or that teenagers are so fun. (But I will be the mom that gives you ideas to support your homeschool teenagers so you can feel at ease.)
I will say this: whoever your teenager was when they were two, well, they are still that in their patterns and tendencies.
And whoever you were when they were two, (well, hopefully, you’ve been growing), your struggles continue into your older parenting years too (unless you’ve rendered them already).
Here’s what I’ve learned about how you can supporting homeschool teens:
Be super flexible.
If you were once familiar with a comfortable routine that worked for you, you’ll discover that that comfortable routine won’t work for your teenager.
Somewhere in their teen years, she/he will declare they would like to do things differently.
- They’re not interested in doing a morning readaloud with the other kids.
- They’re not interested in doing unit studies as a group.
- They’re not interested in taking adventures with you as often as they once did.
Give them as much space to do things their way as you can possibly muster.
This desire for independence is a shift away from the family and a shift towards themselves. It’s normal and good.
(It’s hard to accept that they’re growing up, of course, but it’s part of the parenting story: they will indeed grow up, so let them learn how).
Oh, and they’ll want to come back to you later too!
Assume that your teens’ aptitudes and curiosities have purpose and long-term value.
And of course, we moms want to encourage that, right?
But sometimes our ideas of who we think they are is different than who they think they are.
We have to gradually hand over the reins of assuming we have them figured out and let them figure themselves out.
Teenagers want to be separate from you, so find a way to give them as much separateness as you can.
Teenagers might tell you that…
- they don’t want to go on a family hike,
- they don’t want to participate in family travel,
- they don’t want to go to a movie together,
- they don’t want to do morning read aloud (No!! Not the morning readaloud!)
Find a way to transition so you spend special time with that child.
- find a movie that just the two of you can watch together when the younger kids are asleep,
- read together a book that she/he likes in their room at night,
- find time to do a hike or weekend trip away just with that one child.
And even accept that sometimes they will want to do things entirely away from you too.
Listen to where your kids are really at: get curious & ask directly.
We often assume we know what someone is thinking based on their facial expressions or reaction toward us.
I know I did for most of my life.
And I get this. I really do.
I’ve had plenty of opportunities to misread someone.
But who else can we learn from more than asking the teenager themselves?
- Sometimes teens aren’t adept with their emotional expressions.
- Sometimes they’re still learning their emotions too.
- Sometimes they need a little help to process what is going on in there (pointing to their heads).
- And sometimes they don’t want that help.
Listen closely to what they are saying and what they aren’t saying.
But always ask them directly, accept their answer as it is, and let them know you’re available to chat if they like.
Be available at the end of the night for teen chat.
Not all teens get chatty at the end of the night, but expect that some will feel a whole lot more vulnerable and interested in getting your thoughts about their lives, their friendships, their ideas, and their dreams at the end of the night.
(When you’re done with the day, ready to snuggle into bed, and hit the hay, you might have someone knocking on your door.)
Who knew that your parenting days with each of your kids would be bookended with fatigue? (You’ve been told!)
Don’t fear your teenager’s time for solitude.
Some teens have a tendency to stow away in their bedrooms till adulthood.
Well, they arrive on kitchen shores for regular sustenance, of course.
But they do enjoy their separateness from family time. Let them relish their separateness for as long as they need.
And recognize all the benefits:
- They’re contemplating who they are.
- They’re contemplating who they are not.
- They are learning to be comfortable by themselves.
- They are enjoying time with themselves.
- They are considering what their purpose in life is.
Give them plenty of space to just be.
Encourage them in exploring their curiosities.
The beauty in homeschooling is that there are so many opportunities to learn about themselves, through all sorts of avenues.
Whatever they’re interested in today might not be what they’re interested in tomorrow, but that’s a useful piece of information for them for the future.
Then they’ll know what not to pursue.
Assume that what they’re doing today might contribute to something in their future, but it won’t necessarily be their future.
Share your professional skills with your teens.
Homeschool provides this beautiful opportunity to connect with our teens by sharing our world.
I know I’ve learned from one of my teens as I first began my speaking journey. I felt so awkward in front of the camera. My fifteen-year-old daughter? She was completely relaxed. Since she had practiced for her YouTube channel, exploring what life was like as a homeschooled teenager, she was well-versed with speaking to a camera, editing her mistakes, and watching herself through her recorded videos. She’s taught me a lot about video.
My husband and I have also been able to share our interests and professional skills with them too. I can’t tell you how many medical procedures my husband has explained to my kids. Our kids were well-versed with obstetrical emergencies well before they even hit puberty.
They’ve seen me:
- me write a book
- develop a homeschool life coaching business
- start a podcast
- open a bed and breakfast
- design and build a homestead
- raise chickens
- raise goats
- raise a Large Guardian Dog
What can you share with your kids?
Deschool your Homeschool Journaling Workbook
Deschool your homeschool journaling workbook that aids in your self-exploration, to get clear on how to bring freedom & individualization.
Encourage their self-exploration.
This is the time of their lives when they’re extra curious about who they are.
And what they do is directly tied to who they are.
They get to try on all sorts of identities:
- becoming a theatre person as they participate in plays,
- becoming an academic, learning how to structure their class routines and activities,
- becoming a chess master,
- learning whether technology is their thing
- exploring different subject areas in online or in-person college classes.
The sky is the limit. They get to discover their interests and decide if that identity feels right to them.
So give them a wide berth to explore.
More is caught than taught: your children are learning from you by watching the things you actually value, the things you don’t say but actually believe.
Parenting is an evolution in ourselves as much as our children.
We can come to the end of our parenting journey with a child and realize that there were all sorts of things we wish we knew before we parented our children (my hand is raised to this one!)
And though we can gaze at ourselves in wonder that we should have figured these things out earlier, we didn’t.
So we’ll have to accept our humanness and learning in our parenting journey too.
Turns out, this parenting thing was teaching us to grow up too.
But one thing we can be certain of, as we do this parenting thing, our kids learn what we actually believe, more is caught than taught.
It doesn’t matter that we want to believe in certain values or think certain ways about the world, our kids learn from who we actually are and what we actually think.
So it’s awfully valuable for us to look at what we actually believe as we walk this parenting journey.
To approach our parenting journey and our lives with an intention toward growth.
“Children do not experience our intentions, no matter how heartfelt. They experience what we manifest in tone and behavior.”Gordon Neufeld, author of Hold Onto Your Kids