Judy Davis (right) and Sandy Fowler - Founders of Mighty Parenting.
Have you ever noticed how parents tend to touch on the pain points of the terrible twos, fiery threes and fearsome fours? What about when we get to the awkward stage of parenting pre-teens?
Pre-teens or better known as “tweens” are children ages 10 to 13, and while they aren’t quite grownup yet, parents can still sense the challenges ahead.
Parenting children over the age of 15 seems to come with a negative connotation which can send some parents into sheer panic. However, as a mom of a tween son, I feel like the recent challenges are just a preview of what is yet to come. Instead of panicking over something that may not even happen, I will educate myself and learn parenting strategies for talking and listening to my tween.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Judy Davis, who sheds some light on parenting tweens and teenagers.
Judy is a sought-after motivational speaker, entrepreneur, author and host of the Mighty Parenting Podcast. She is a teen suicide prevention expert as well as an influencer in the military spouse community. We have also featured Judy’s writing in Community, and she is a 10 year member of USAA. Judy is passionate about providing programs and resources to families across the nation and is the CEO of DASIUM – a brand, in my opinion, leading the way in depression, addiction and suicide prevention in teens and young adults.
Angela: Tell us a little bit about Mighty Parenting. What is it and how can it help parents?
Judy: Mighty Parenting is a safe place for parents of teens and twenty somethings to learn, grow and connect. We understand that as kids get older, parents often lose their support network, and we are changing that. From a podcast and webinars to resources, information and support we help parents address the unique challenges of raising teens and parenting young adults in the 21st century.
A: What inspired you to start Mighty Parenting?
J: Mighty Parenting grew from an unmet need that existed in the parenting community. When working with families and presenting programs for depression, addiction and suicide prevention, families wanted upstream solutions that would help them prevent a crisis before it occurred. Parents shared that they didn’t have the tools, information and support they needed to meet the unique challenges they faced raising teens and young adults. Mighty Parenting began as a podcast with a mission to share real, raw and relevant talk about raising teens and parenting young adults and grew from there. We now have products, resources and programs that can support families.
A: What is the one thing you want parents to know about raising tweens and teenagers?
J: YOU GOT THIS. So often parents feel unprepared to deal with this phase of their child’s life, and we want parents to know they can do this, and do it well. While there are no guarantees and we all make mistakes, our kids don’t need a perfect parent. What they need is a present parent who cares and listens first. Good communication and healthy coping strategies for handling emotions are key skills that every parent needs to thrive during the teen years.
A: How can parents put an end to the negative perceptions that come with the world of tweens and teenagers?
J: The world is full of ideas and stigmas about teenagers, and the way to counter those ideas is to not let the opinions of others shape our thinking or the way we parent. The teenage years are often thought of as turbulent and frustrating, but we believe that it is also a time of growth, energy and self-discovery for our kids. When parents live, speak, and make decisions from the belief that teens are strong, energetic, and passionate they empower their child to learn about who they are, where their strengths lie and support them in continuing to build coping strategies that will serve them in their adult years. One of the things we promote as a great way to teach our kid’s new skills is to model a lifestyle that you want them to emulate. Our kids learn best from our actions rather than our lectures.
A: It’s an interesting day in age to raise kids; do you believe social media makes it harder for parents?
J: One of the biggest challenges we see is that social media is not only hard to understand, but also has a much larger impact than most parents realize. Our children live their lives in a fishbowl, opening themselves up to judgement and bullying and we parents often don’t get how that affects their self-esteem and the pressure they feel to be perfect. We didn’t grow up with profiles and technology to the extent our children do, and because of that it’s important to educate ourselves on the unique challenges social media presents for our kids. The biggest way to navigate these challenges is to help our teens develop healthy coping strategies to manage their use of technology and not be dismissive of their feelings when they are struggling with the impact of social media on their lives.
Check out the recent podcast from Mighty Parenting on Social Media and Teens!
A: What is something we could do as parents to better understand our teens?
J: Listen, listen, and listen. It is important for parents to listen from a place of curiosity rather than telling our teens what to do. Too often because we believe we know what is best for our kids we react rather than interact. The reality is that when our kids get older they need us to walk alongside them as a guide encouraging them to find solutions and deal with the consequences of their choices. ….rather than jumping in to fix things.
A: Would you say that there is a surefire way to fail at reaching teens?
J: We believe that every parent does the best they can in the moment, with the information and experiences they have. However, judging and taking the attitude that your way is the only way is a surefire way to push your teen away. At a time when self-discovery is such a huge part of their lives, your teen needs you to listen and acknowledge the positive now more than ever.
What questions do you have about raising tweens or teenagers? Ask us in the comments below.
About the blogger: Angela Caban is an Army National Guard spouse, published author and branding expert. In 2010, she founded the Homefront United Network, a military spouse and family support blog created to assist spouses who do not live near an installation, but also focusing on bridging the gap between National Guard, Reserve and Active Duty spouses. She has an extensive background in Human Resources and Communications, with her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Human Resources. Angela resides in the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey with her husband and two children.
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