Should You Allow Your Teenagers to Drink Coffee?

Many of us adults grab a cup of coffee to help us kickstart our day but coffee consumption among teenagers is growing and, as a parent, you may be wondering if that’s a good thing. The common perception is that coffee is bad for adolescents. So, should you allow your teens to drink coffee?

The simple answer is yes but strictly in moderation as an excess of caffeine can be dangerous.

How much coffee is too much?

Many, me included, drink two, three or even five cups of coffee daily to keep us all day functional. Of course, our interest is not so much about the coffee but its caffeine content.  

The effects of caffeine are different for each person. Some people might feel jolted and jittery from a single cup of coffee while others will feel nothing from drinking three cups. The best amount of coffee depends on your personal tolerance levels to it.

That being said, no doubt that there is a daily maximum consumption limit of 1 cup for teenagers that you should not surpass regularly. Teenagers should avoid consuming more than 100mg of caffeine in 24 hours. 

How does drinking coffee affect growing teens?

It is easy to think that coffee will affect teenagers the same way as adults, but it isn’t necessarily true. It is believed that teenagers are more likely to develop a caffeine dependence by drinking coffee regularly.

There is further concern that regular coffee consumption can affect the emotional development of teenagers. Caffeine inhibits neurotransmitters in the brain, and it is possible that these neurotransmitters may be permanently damaged by overdosing on coffee.

Excessive coffee drinking is also a known factor for losing the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Caffeine tampers with the chemicals in the brain that are responsible for helping us feel calm and peaceful.

With too high a coffee consumption, the benefits of the brain’s chemical messengers are denied them and the excess caffeine may make them anxious and agitated.

However, drinking coffee in moderation is not a problem and can have plenty of health benefits.

Drinking coffee in moderation is healthy for teens

Coffee is the world’s favourite hot drink, with an estimated 2.25 billion cups consumed every day globally. The famous French writer Voltaire is renowned for drinking up to 50 cups of coffee every day and lived until the age of 83.

If you are a teenager, there is no harm in sticking to only one cup of coffee in 24 hours. Make sure you don’t consume any other beverages that contain caffeine when you are on coffee (for example sodas and sports drinks).

Coffee boosts brainpower 

Coffee with sugar can turn you into a little genius for a while because the combination of caffeine and glucose activates certain sectors of your brain.

The caffeine in coffee acts as a mild stimulant to the central nervous system. This neuronal activity triggers the release of adrenaline that affects your brain and body in several ways.

Your heartbeat increases, blood pressure rises, breathing tubes open up and sugar is released into the bloodstream for extra energy. Depending on the level of intake it can improve attention and concentration.

Coffee can help you get better grades in class 

Coffee can be a saviour is school and can definitely help to manage hectic schedule if appropriately consumed. You should know the right way to consume caffeine if you are planning to use it during your exams or tests.

Caffeine, like most drugs, is subject to the effect of tolerance, and it works on many receptors inside your brain. When you repeatedly use caffeine on a regular basis, the body upregulates or downregulates these various receptors to maintain homeostasis. The body generally reacts to drugs or chemical interference by trying to maintain a balance.

The solution is only to use coffee occasionally to prevent tolerance. If you drink coffee daily, try to cycle your caffeine.

Caffeine cycling means a brief period of stopping or decreasing consumption to reduce tolerance. A good starting point for caffeine cycles is to go one to two weeks without consuming caffeine in any form, to reset your tolerance.

Coffee makes the immune system stronger

Coffee contains an abundance of nutrients and healthful chemicals that can aid your immune system. According to scientists from several counties, coffee reduces the risks of premature death.

This is because coffee alters your immune system, making it stronger and healthier. Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play a crucial role in cancer prevention.

Coffee also improves your liver, heart, and digestive system. The best option is to stick to natural and freshly ground coffee because instant coffee contains fewer nutrients and more chemical additives.

Coffee reduces stress due to the release of dopamine serotonin, which triggers a good mood and lower risks of getting depressed. 

Most parents would never think of giving their teenage kids a cup of coffee, yet many teens consume drinks with just as much if not even more caffeine than coffee.

The truth is that these caffeinated drinks could pose far more of a risk to our teens’ health than a daily cup of coffee.

Where do you stand on caffeine consumption for teens?

Why Mums Should Hang Out With Their Teenage Daughters

As our daughters hit their teens, it sometimes seems as if parents are surplus to requirements.  Sometimes we are invited into their lives but on many others, shut firmly out.  Moods swing from elation to misery according to the throw of the hormonal dice – and that applies for both mum and daughters!

It can truly feel as if you are being tested and, worse, as if you just don’t have the parenting strategies or ‘magic’ solution to repair the fractured bonds which used to be impenetrable.

There are, I believe, two schools of thought.

There are those who think that hanging out with your tween/teen girls all the time is not a great thing.  It is mum cramping their style and living vicariously through her daughters.  You may remember a documentary about ’embarrassing’ mums who went clubbing with the daughters and competed with them for attention both on the dance floor and off – much to the chagrin of the girls.

But then there are those whose daughters become their new best friends and for whom time spent together just serves to bring them even closer.  They seem to have found the solution to the constant, knackering drama-fests that can envelope a hormonal household.

It’s always going to be a challenge where you have mums and daughters with equally strong personalities and especially if either one of those personalities is inflexible.  My mother had a very specific set of rules for behaving and doing things around the home – passed on to her, of course by my grandmother. From hospital corners on beds, to meals served at set times, my mother has always thrived on routine and structure.

Ours was never a ‘laissez-faire’ household where bedtimes varied and the occupants kept whatever hours they chose.

It’s only natural, I suppose to want our daughters to be like us and I’m guessing that, as they age, many of them will turn out like us – but that is no consolation during the tempestuous teen years.  In truth, it is surely far better for our daughters to be different, to be adventurous, to be rule-breakers and non-conformist.

Lots of us innocently push our own agendas on to our daughters – from the hobbies we tell them ‘they are sure to like’ to the books they ‘should’ read.  We only want what’s best for them – the best academic results to ensure they get a job for example.  The best job so they have a chance at saving a deposit for a place of their own. The best partner for a committed loving relationship and on it goes.

We forget that we got to be who we are and where we are through the lessons life taught us – and how many of those were from our parents?

But back to today – and what do you do if your relationship with your daughter is like living in a war zone – or at least prone to door slamming, tantrums and sulking (both sides!).

Do you ever catch yourself talking to your kids and realise that you are basically just issuing instructions?

“Clean your room”

“Do your homework”

“Put your clothes in the laundry basket”

“Make sure you eat a proper breakfast”

There’s not actually a lot of conversation or even relating going on.  Of course, sometimes if you ask ‘how was your day’ you don’t get much of a response but at least it’s an attempt to share their experience.

What we are not doing in this situation is actually seeing our daughters as individuals.

The adolescent brain has an undeveloped prefrontal cortex and a dominant limbic system which translates as being prone to drama. I’m sure you’ve noticed (!)

But this isn’t the only factor at play.

To quote one study, “childhood and adolescence is the core risk phase for the development of symptoms and syndromes of anxiety that may range from transient mild symptoms to full-blown anxiety disorders.” This includes depression.

So what is going on?

Environmental factors such as the pressure to conform by social media or to get 5 A* A-Levels may play a part for some.

Heavy social media use is actually linked to depression in young people, according to a study published in “Computers in Human Behavior”.

As women we are surrounded, still, by so many pressures no matter what we read about a new ‘woke’ society – made all the worse because so many opinions and views are sat upon and any sensible discussion immediately curtailed lest someone’s feelings be hurt.  It’s the unthinking ‘cancel culture’ of Twitter and the red mist descending over mature discussion in many other quarters.  History is to be rewritten rather than learned from which, to me, invalidates all striving, fighting and hard work of those who have trodden the path before us.

Teen girls are truly under pressure to perform which must make focusing on just ‘being’ extremely difficult.

And for us mothers, the worry about how our daughters will cope with all this creates a stress which makes us all the more prone to react with panic and censure.

When you have both mothers and daughters living in an atmosphere where there is a permanent threat of not fitting in, not making the grade and not ‘getting it right’, it’s no wonder fireworks occur – and that’s without hormones.

Some of our kids are working so hard with school work and extracurricular activities they literally have no time to themselves.

So what can we do about it?

Spend more time together just ‘hanging out’

Whether it’s watching a movie together, listening to music or a spot of online shopping, just spending some time without having to be, do or behave in a certain way can help.  Step out of the mother / daughter roles for a bit and just relax.

I think this is even more important where there are male siblings or fractious sibling relationships in addition to parental ones.

When there are no expectations to conform to the usual pattern of behaviour, it may be easier for mum and daughter to be open and honest with one another.

Let them teach you

Very often I’ll be writing a post or playing around with photo editing and my daughter will offer advice or show me a new way of doing something.  (One of the few positives of her social media use!).

You’ll be amazed what your daughters can teach you and it’s important that you let them share the world they are growing up in – it keeps you, in turn, younger and better equipped to relate to them.

The way to get through to our girls may not always be through conversation. Responding positively to the things they choose to share can develop bonds.  Caitlin loves to share funny videos (especially cats), memes and songs.

Rather than brushing these kinds of interruption aside – and it’s not so easy if we are working from home for example, making time for them can improve our closeness.

The trick is, of course, to focus on what she has chosen to share and not the maelstrom of clothes on the bedroom floor or rubbish that has missed the bin.

If you can master this, you may find that your daughter shares more with you more often.

Don’t Always Jump In With Advice

The urge to give advice is very strong isn’t it?  The problem is that it isn’t always wanted.  You’ll know from your own experience that the last thing you want when you are upset or feeling down is a lecture and a list of yet more things that you ‘should’ be doing.

A bit of kindness and empathy will go much further – as will listening without interruption.

Perhaps try a coaching approach – asking how she thinks should she should approach a situation may be more helpful that “why did you do that for heavens sake!”

The other thing to bear in mind is that you may not always know the full story.  If your daughter doesn’t trust you with her innermost secrets, any advice you give could be based on half the facts – and might actually make things worse.

Teens seem to amplify situations according to their moods – which seem to change from moment to moment.

What might be a nightmare scenario today may be just “whatever” tomorrow.

If we parents pitch in too soon we risk not only making it worse for our daughter but ramping up our own stress and anxiety too – and who needs that!

If you can implement these strategies you will hopefully see a reduction in the level of drama – or at least the frequency.  Start small with an hour or so dedicated to mum and daughter time that is sacrosanct and for you and her alone.

Of course there will still be battles and arguments but we are not powerless to create a different path.

For those of us lucky enough to still have a good relationship with our mother (and I am well aware that this does not apply for all), how you handle the teen years may be crucial in creating a strong and lasting bond with your own daughter.

3 Reasons Raising Teens and Tweens Is Challenging

If you’re a parent, you know how hard it is moving through the different phases of your children’s lives. 

They start out so little, and if you’re new to the parenting thing, it can be quite intimidating, but we figure it out phase by phase. However, there is something incredibly unique about the teen phase. Everything changes and your sweet child has morphed into some sort of bipolar person who just happens to be under the same roof. 

As parents, most of us think back to ourselves at that time and cut them some slack because we know they’re just trying to figure themselves out. 

Tweens can be challenging because they are just starting their journey through puberty, but teens more towards the end of the spectrum—around 17 and 18—are more challenging sometimes because they think they are an adult all of a sudden. 

Most times, they have to learn certain lessons on their own because they don’t think mom and dad know what they’re talking about! 

So, let’s check out 3 reasons parenting teens can be challenging, but most importantly, how you can survive it!

They Have To Keep Up With The Trends

We were all teenagers once. Which means we know how important it is to “be on-trend.”

If you have a teen, you’ve probably heard all about how your kid has to do something, or have something to avoid “social suicide” because being a teen is all about appearances. Who has the latest kicks? Who has the best hair? Overall, who is the most popular, right? It was the same when we were kids, and sadly, it hasn’t changed.

It doesn’t help that the price tags of these favoured items seem to keep increasing, but most of us try to get our kids the things they want. It’s okay to provide them with these things, just make sure it’s within your budget. If not, they’ll have to understand and make do with what they have or an alternative item. 

Their Hormones Are All Over The Place

We all know about those raging teen hormones that cause slammed doors and random outbursts of tears over the most minuscule things. Look at these times as those prized parenting moments you’ve been rewarded with because it’s only a part of life. When you see your teen is having a meltdown, offer them so alone time to calm down and reflect. 

Some Kids Are Bullies

Perhaps, one of the hardest things that parents and kids have to deal with is bullying. For our children, it’s hard for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, most of us have encountered some kind of bully in our lifetime, from childhood and even on up into our adult lives. It’s hard for parents because we want to be there to protect our children, but we know that we have to let them stand up for themselves. 

Plus, we’d probably only make it worse going up to a school and taking that bully on ourselves! Make sure you express to your child that you’re there for them and to communicate if things are getting out of hand. You might have to step in, but there are ways to do it without causing more problems for your teen. 

Feeling Anxious?

If you’re dealing with frequent stress and anxiety related to parenting, we recommend the use of CBD oil. It’s known for its beneficial properties and calming effects. Although it comes in a variety of mediums, CBD now comes in gummy form for easier ingestion.


Teens are tough.

There’s no question about that. But knowing how to handle them through one of the most delicate periods of their life is critical for giving them the strength they need to make it through adulthood on their own.

Give them a long leash, and make yourself open to talking to them—no matter what they say—you’re going to do fine.

How to Create a Fabulous 18th Birthday Party

It’s such a special birthday, the 18th, isn’t it?  I’m sure we can all remember our own. Selecting the concept, decoration, and design of an 18th birthday party to remember, though, can be a daunting task. They might still be a kid to you but this is their grand debut into adult life and a more ‘adult’ party is required.  No more party bags and ‘Pin The Tail On The Donkey’!

Of course, while we are in Lockdown, the only party venues open to us in the UK are Facebook and Zoom but there’s no harm in planning for a fabulous ‘do’ for our teen once we are finally set free!

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Listed below are some ideas to help you organise the best 18th birthday party.

Get them involved

Whilst it’s tempting to organise a surprise party and catch the birthday boy or girl off guard, it’s probably wiser to get them involved with the party planning.  It is, after all, a pretty special occasion and you wouldn’t want to arrange something that failed to hit the mark. Let’s be honest – there’s an element of competition involved too, isn’t there?  You wouldn’t want to arrange a party which falls flat in comparison with their best mate’s do.

Reserve a great venue

House parties are OK, of course, but frankly who wants the stress, the mess and the cleaning-up afterwards?  For a special 18th birthday party, why not check our external venues to book or hire?

Stay calm but be careful

In the UK, of course, 18 is the age at which one can legally consume alcohol but if their friends have not yet reached this milestone birthday, they, of course, cannot – and you might find yourself in trouble if you allow it.

You might not need to go so far as ID inspections on the door but a quiet word with their parents to check their age would be wise.  And it will be up to you to keep a close eye on everyone at the party.

Life being what it is, though, teen parties will usually feature one or two who drink too much so there should be at least one or two responsible adults present.  The trick is to be there without cramping the birthday boy’s or girl’s style.  Ultimately, the decision to allow alcohol at the party is yours but do make an effort to make everybody enjoy the fun or manage the risk of becoming a killjoy parent!

Photo by Robert Anderson on Unsplash

Go for exciting activities

Even if it’s just putting together a great playlist and plugging an iPod into your audio system, try your best to create a party atmosphere. Why not have a theme and link your activities to that – for example a James Bond theme with a casino wheel (no money involved of course!) or get everyone involved in a game of Super Mario on the XBox or a Fortnite shoot-out?

If the party guests want to party the night away, you could hire a professional disc jockey or band for some live music. You can also hire smoke machines, disco balls and laser lights.

Another option might be to hire a magician or cartoonist – or even a comedian – assuming their humour isn’t too ‘blue’ of course. The entertainment you choose should match the type of people who will be coming so choose your entertainer judiciously.

Have some adult treat totes

Now, having said ‘no more party bags’, you could consider an ‘adult treat tote’ – depending on your budget of course. With appropriate contents, these can be quite a novel idea. Mix things up with a few funny items like face masks or a pair of glasses for everybody to put on at the ‘do, and light sticks are often popular too.

Based on your alcohol consumption policy, you may start adding some little alcoholic goodies, just like jello shots but you are probably safer including things like retro sweets and disposable cameras. Match your tote bag gifts to your party theme for an extra cool effect.

Photo by Robert Anderson on Unsplash

5 Unique 18th Birthday Celebration Tips

  • Surprise Celebration. An unexpected party is an exciting and comparatively simple option. The key is, it has to be surprising! Work with some help from two or three of your teenager’s close friends to gather a great list of guests, select a place, and have your youngster to go to the chosen location in the assigned time. You can maintain it simple but might need to toss along a taco bar or buffet to help make the party a bit more extraordinary. 
  • Film Night by the Pool. An outdoor video film night offers an 18th birthday celebration or school get together an additional twist. Include a swimming pool plus some goofy shark movies together with special birthday treats and have a menu for a good time. In case sharks are not your son or daughter’s thing, pick a theme that suits their most favourite movie.
  • Food Preparation Class. If your guest of honour is a Masterchef or 5-star baker in the making, why not throw a food preparation class party? Choose from ideas such as preparing sushi or pasta-making and take relatives and buddies along. Now you have a very yummy idea, and no one will be starving; also, you may send your guests home a personalized plate as a memento.
  • Hunter/ Scavenger. A scavenger party hunt for the celebrant is another idea to consider for some pre-party fun which leads them right to the venue. Personalise the clues so they are all about the party boy or girl for an extra special touch. These are exciting, lively, and cheap to set-up.
  • Adventure Party. If your teen is the adventurous type, then choose an outdoor or high octane activity for an adrenalin rush – anything exciting and enjoyable, such as water-skiing, trekking or perhaps skydiving. The sky’s the limit with this party theme but make sure you choose a professional outfit with full insurance and obtain your guests’ parents’ permission.

What was your 18th birthday party like?  I’d love to hear in the comments below.

The Ultimate Starter Kit For A First-Year University Student

Starting university is an exciting prospect and one that should be made the most of.  It’s a brand new challenge – living away from mum and dad, and the first real chance you may have as a young adult for real independence. Going into this stage of your life with at least some preparation would be unwise, although so many do! Being prepared for your new life will help you in many ways and will make your introduction to the university experience a lot more enjoyable. 

So let’s talk about what’s required for your ultimate starter kit for your first year of university. 


This is an absolute must and should really be sorted before looking at any other part of your starter kit, finding somewhere to stay whilst studying is a key ingredient to success. Unless you live near or on a university campus then getting to lectures is going to be difficult if you live a 4-hour drive away, so finding somewhere to live near to where you study is pretty important. If you’ve chosen to study abroad, like Brisbane, Australia for example, then it’s even more important as there is no fail-safe to rely on. In this example finding student accommodation in Brisbane that will supply all the necessities a first-year student will need is an important step to take toward success, having somewhere that will find you surrounded by like-minded university students will be a saving grace when you’re feeling stressed. And an added bonus is that amenities such as a gym, a swimming pool, and a games room come included. 


This is the more boring side of your starter kit but it’s probably the most important, ensuring you have all the documents needed to start your university experience is vital to actually being allowed to start. From being let into your student accommodation for the first time, to starting your first course in the lecture hall, you’ll need the appropriate documentation for each and everything you do. When it comes to things like student finance and student loans then being able to gain access to your money is pretty important, make sure everything is in order before you start your course, you don’t want to get to university and find you have no money for the first 3 months. 

Freshers Week 

A legendary week that is known to all university students, freshers week is the first week of your existence at university and usually ends up in a week of parties. Being prepared for this, and when I say prepared I mean you understand that you’ll party for a week, is pretty important. University is known to be a fun time for everyone involved and means you’ll probably find yourselves partying every weekend, or Monday, or Wednesday, or whenever you fancy. Don’t go too crazy in the first week, have fun and party till your heart’s content, but remember you have at least 3 years of having fun so don’t ruin it out the blocks. 

What to Pack 

This is dependent on where you are going to University, if it’s in the UK then you’ll probably have to pack a lot more than if you were to go to university abroad. Most of the time student accommodation for international students supplies many of the things we would usually take like kitchen and bedroom supplies, but the rest will still stay the same. Make sure you have everything required for your course, that’s books and course materials, and take your laptop! Your laptop in this situation will be your best friend, being able to do university work anywhere you go will be a lifesaver and can save time. You may find yourself at a local coffee shop during the day and decide to finish off the assignment you’ve been given, making more time for having fun in the evening. If you don’t have a laptop then I would thoroughly advise on getting one, they aren’t all hugely expensive these days making it affordable for everyone. 

After the essentials, all you have left to pack is yourself and your clothes. University is a place where you can be yourself and not have to worry about what your parents are going to say when you walk down the stairs, express yourself and wear what you want. If you’ve chosen to study abroad in a hot country, don’t forget your swimming trunks! 

Choosing to study abroad could be the best decision of your life and being prepared for it will help massively, don’t panic if you don’t remember absolutely everything as most situations are fixable but remember the essentials, to begin with, and everything else will fall into place. Don’t go too crazy in your first week as there’s plenty of time to party, have fun at University and you’ll open up many doors to the future. 


7 Gift Ideas For Teenage Gamers

When you have kids, or friends that have kids, you learn to understand that every generation and every phase of growing up brings along with it different wants and needs. So when it comes to buying gifts, one has to be extremely careful! And when it comes to teenagers in particular, they can be very difficult to get right. 

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

But, to help you out this post looks at gift ideas that are exclusively for the gaming teenager, because more often than not, the teenager in question is bound to have an obsession with gaming! 

Gaming Desk

One of the best ideas to get as a gift for your gaming-obsessed teen, is a gaming desk. If you don’t know the first thing about gaming, you can’t really go wrong with this. You need to do some research online and you’ll be able to find more here on the variety of options. You’ll find it much easier to pick the best one, but be sure to find out how much space the teen in question has so that you get the right size as well. 


Getting a headset as a gift is a great idea, because a gamer can never have too many headsets, that’s for sure! Try to find out that it is made exclusively for gaming, as these are designed for long hours of use and pay attention to details such as cushioning and mic quality as well. Headphones are ideal for teens who love to game, because they love to have the volume put on blast, and by getting them the headphones, you’ll be keeping them and the rest of the family happy as well!


Find out what kind of gaming consoles your teen has, and then get out there and find them a special edition controller. This is bound to get them super excited, as these are not made for mass production and certainly pass for being a great and thoughtful gift. You can get extra points if you know what their favourite game is and are able to get a controller that has this game’s theme on it. 

Photo by Gabriel Dias Pimenta on Unsplash

Game-Themed Memorabilia

You will be able to have the widest variety of options when it comes to memorabilia. If you look online, you’ll find plenty of platforms from which you can choose a number of things. From pillows to lamps, cake moulds and even towels or bed sheets. There are a lot of really cool things to get when it comes to memorabilia with a gaming theme. 


Because it is a well-known fact that gamers love to spend hours on end playing these games, getting them a gaming chair as a gift will be heaven-sent. If they have a normal chair by their desk, or even sit on the floor to use their consoles, they are bound to be in pain by the end of their gaming sessions. Get them an ergonomic chair that is particularly designed for gaming and they will love you forever for it! 

VR Set

If you have a teen that loves gaming, then they’re bound to go crazy over a VR set for sure! Check out your options, and see which would be best for your budget and what kind of features you’d like for it to have. VR is all the craze these days, so it’s a great gift option.

Custom Made Mouse Pads 

When all else fails, you can go down the sentimental route and have a custom made mouse pad. Find out what the teen’s favourite character or game is, and have an image put onto the mousepad. It doesn’t even have to be the standard shape, you can design it to look as unique as you like. You can even put their name on it and throw in a cool mouse as well to round off the gift to perfection.

Teenagers who love gaming have specific preferences, so it’s important that you keep the suggestions we’ve made here in mind when you’re deciding on a gift for them. The key is to at least have an idea on what kind of game they like, the setup that they have, and how they play their games. By doing so, you’ll be able to fill in the gaps for them and give them a gift that’s bound to take their gaming experience to the next level which gives you extra points for paying attention to the things they love the most! You can’t really go wrong if you get a bit thoughtful and do your research as well. 

Why does my kid always go left when I ask them to go right?!

If you have tweens or teens, as I do, you’re sure to find this guest post from Clinical Hypnotherapist, Master NLP Practitioner and author Caroline Cavanagh interesting.  I must admit, there are times when I am convinced that my two take great delight in doing the exact opposite of anything they are asked to do.  And, as Caroline explains, I’m not alone.

Why does my kid always go left when I ask them to go right?!

Caroline says:-

For parents of teens, this is a common reality – to the point that I know I have actually asked my teen to do the opposite of what I wanted in the hope that they would do what I did want!

But for many parents, this is a course of much friction as all those values and beliefs you have spent years developing in them appear to go out of the window.  And also, especially for mums, it can lead to huge anxiety as they see their precious baby pulling away from them and wanting little contact.

I don’t think many people would say that parenting is easy but sometimes, little insights into why they are doing what they are doing can help you ride that storm!

From a therapy perspective, there is a psychological process that goes on during adolescence that takes kids from dependent children through to becoming independent adults.  That progress, however, is far from linear and what tends to happen is, as children start breaking away from being dependent, they make a quantum leap and go for full independence leading to that behaviour that many parents of teens will recognise – doing the absolute opposite of anything you ask of them!

We often put this down to belligerence but it is all part of this process – the subconscious desire to be independent goes into overdrive and rather than doing what is ‘right’ they will do the opposite of whatever the parents ask to prove that they are no longer dependent or ‘controlled’ by their parents.

This process is not just tied to puberty (although that will have an influence) but more readily influenced by maturity and a subconscious realisation that they now have the skills to start making that journey to independence – even though as parents, we know that there are still many lessons to learn!

My advice to parents trying to weather this storm covers a number of angles – no one is best, they are all tools that you can pick on depending on the situation.

  • Acknowledge this is happening with your teen and agree (ideally with their input) some parameters that allow them to have independence whilst you look after their safety. For example, when my kids started secondary school they wanted to go into town with friends and come home later.  My answer was that they could but if they missed the bus then that would suggest to me that they did not yet have the maturity to be responsible for managing their time and therefore we’d have to wait a while until they could demonstrate they have that skill.  They never missed the bus!  And so a later bus became allowed, followed by a trip further a field etc – each time with the parameters of what they needed to do to prove to me they were independent enough to manage their independence!
  • Talk to your teenager about choices. As dependents their exposure to cause and effect is more limited but as they go out into the world, that exposure heightens but often they don’t have the experiences to determine what the effects of their actions may be.  By positioning things as choices, you can help them increase their awareness’s of implications whilst still allowing them a perceived freedom of independent choices as to which route they take.
  • Help educate your teen by talking of your own experiences. My teen daughter is showing an increased interest in alcohol.  I know that if I tell her she should not drink it, we may well head down the ‘turn right when I want her to go left’ route!  So I have shared stories with her about my youth – like when I woke up aged 15 on a lawn having no recollection of how I got there! Whilst she found this quite funny, her instant response was, “I would hate not being in control.”  Bingo!  The message hit home.
  • Keep communication channels open. One of the biggest challenges during these teen years is the ‘grunting’ period where teens appear to lose their ability to talk (unless it involves arguing!)  It therefore lies with parents to do what they can to keep communication channels open.  The easiest way I have found to do this is create opportunities where there are minimal distractions and you avoid eye contact.  These can include; walking the dog, journeys in the car, and lying on the bed with them at night when it is dark. And accept it may take more than one attempt before they open up.  If I sense my son is in a bad place, when I go to say goodnight to him, I will lie on the bed with him for a bit.  Sometimes he will just start talking, at other times, I may need to do this for several nights before the conversation starts.  And then it is all about listening.
  • When that conversation does start, avoid solving the problem for them – as this flips them straight back into dependency. This is where you can deploy the “I remember something like this when I was 15 and I did XYZ and it was a disaster!  If I could talk to that 15 yr old me now I’d tell her……..” strategy.  Or ask them what their thoughts are on options and guide them to see the pros and cons of each option – they are doing the problem solving, you are leading them along the road.

Be assured though that they do get back to that point where your right is also their right too and whilst they will not share all of your beliefs and values, many of those they adhered to when they were in those dependent years, will have weathered the storm and remained strong!

If you have a teen (or nearly teen) and are interested in being part of a community where we talk about teenage anxiety and other things teen-related, then please come and join us in a closed facebook group called teenstress 101 which you can find here:

Caroline Cavanagh, Image taken by Barbara Leatham, Wiltshire based photographer.

You can find out more about Caroline and her work on her website or discover her books and author bio on Amazon.

How to Deal with Your Child Moving to Another Country

Having your child move out is one thing, but knowing they are moving to a whole other country can leave you with many mixed emotions. We want the best for our children, but every parent worries; even more so when their children are in another country. Whether your child is emigrating, going travelling or studying, not having them close to home is difficult to deal with.

Talk It Through

When your child gives you a big shock such as this, it can be too easy to be overwhelmed with emotions and not listen to them. Finding out why they want to move can help you understand and realise that this decision may be best for them. If they are telling you, they are probably pretty serious about the idea and have good reasons for it.

Assist in Finding Them a Place

Knowing your child is living somewhere safe can really help in putting your mind at rest. There are many accommodations that are security protected, which you can view online to get an idea of what they are like. For example, you can find places to live at Collegiate such as this luxurious student accommodation in Lisbon. This student accommodation is in the centre of Lisbon, meaning no travelling after dark to the outskirts, and is a great way for your child to make other friends, and most importantly, stay safe.

Look at The Positives

Having tunnel vision in this situation is no good for anyone, especially not for you. Instead of seeing this as your child leaving home and being far away, look at all the positives that also arise from this. If your child lives at home or is quite dependent on you, this gives you the chance to begin to move on with your life and start doing things for you. This could mean more nights away with your partner or even a chance to start a new career or start a new hobby. Having your child in another country also gives you the added bonus of being able to visit them. This doubles up as a holiday and a way to discover new places.

Talk to Someone

Many parents have been through similar circumstances and it is okay to be upset and anxious about this decision. Speak to your partner, if you are with your child’s parent, as they will probably be feeling the exact same emotions as you, even if they are not showing it. Talk to friends and express your concerns. Sometimes, having someone to vent to can help rid some of the anxieties that you are feeling, however silly they may feel. With great inventions such as Skype, you will never feel too far away from your child.

It is natural to be upset, and you don’t need to hide this from your child, as long as you still support them with whatever decision they make. We all deal with news like this in different ways but bear these few things in mind if your child tells you they want to move to another country.