Teenagers Who Turn To Their Parents For Help?

One of the key aims of Craig’s and my parenting is that our children feel, understand and deeply know they can come to us any time, any how, any way for help. And we will be helpful.

We aim that they will come to us after times when they have felt uncomfortable. That they will come to us when they are unsure about what to do next. And especially, that they come to us when they’ve done something wrong, and they need emotional support to face their consequences.

So, when they have been asleep at night and wake up to come and find us…I say “Hello darling.” I get up from my seat and I walk/carry them straight back to bed. On the way I say, “That’s the right thing to do – to come and find us when you’re worried/scared/upset/lost/unsure/dazed…” what ever fits, depending on which child and how old they are. 

We don’t praise them or give them stickers for staying in bed all night. Alone.

We don’t punish them because they can’t manage to stay all night in bed. Alone.

One day these kids are going to be teenagers.

We don’t expect they will be able to handle everything. Alone.

We do expect them to come to us for help. Any time of the day or night.

It starts now.

(This is officially how I help put food on the table. If you’ve found this article useful, please feel free to use the Koha button just above my blogroll. Even the smallest amount is appreciated. 🙂 )


About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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25 Responses to Teenagers Who Turn To Their Parents For Help?

  1. Li-ling says:

    I like this Karyn! Definitely makes sense.
    We are guilty of the ‘stay-in-bed’ and she received ‘letters from various Princesses’ to encourage her to do it. I must say though, it was becoming a bit of a habit, waking at 2 am every night and asking for milk. 😉

    • I think it makes sense, but I tend to think sideways! 😉
      By “I need milk”, she could mean…are you there for me Mummy, like you say you are…Why not just pull her into bed with you and snuggle for the rest of the night? I promise she won’t want to be there when she’s 16. lol 🙂

  2. You could not have said it any better. Xx

  3. Elena says:

    This groundwork is oh-so important! Having two teenagers, I can attest to it. As they get older and start to shut me out some, which seems like a natural need to do it themselves and not have Mommy hanging over their shoulder every second at that age, I try very hard to make sure, on those occasions when they do open up to me, that I’m not judgmental and I don’t say, “Here’s what you do…” I will just listen and ask questions, trying to make myself into a sounding board so they can figure it out themselves.

    • I totally agree, while teenagers need to break away and ‘find themselves’ the ones who have that groundwork at least have a way home. I just can’t imagine children who have been always told not to come to Mum and Dad at night having the same confidence in their parents as those who haven’t. But I guess only time will tell. 😉

  4. driftwoods says:

    This is lovely. We have a boy who does the same thing, and it’s easy to get frustrated. We do the same thing. Building trust is always a good investment for now and later, too.

    • I think so. It seems logical to me, that the kids who have experienced their parents being there for them, are more likely to understand (deep in their cells in a way) that their parents are their life-line when they strike big problems. Thanks for commenting, love it when people do. 🙂

  5. Trudy says:

    As a teen, I never felt comfortable discussing things with my parents beyond academics. I had good parents but with having so many siblings (7), I don’t think I had the emotional closeness that made me feel comfortable to do so. Luckily I was a square so I didn’t get into any trouble, but if I did, I am not sure what I’d do.

    Teens do naturally shut their parents out during the identity vs. role confusion phase of the psychosocial stages (Erikson) that begin in the latter teen years, because there needs to be some distance in order to begin to figure out who they are and develop autonomy, but at the same time, they need to know that when problems are too big, parents will be there. Seems like getting that balance with a teen is a challenge, but really important.

    Good post!

    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Trudy. It is important for teenagers to break away, but it’s equally important that they truly know they have a life-line available in their parents. Thanks for sharing your perspective, it’s always welcome.

  6. Mama B says:

    It’s so true. I find myself pushing them to do things without my help and lately, watching a friend of mine with her children and how she reacts to this exact same situation as you discuss in this post as opposed to how I act and I realized we both get the same result except my kids would have been scolded and told not to do it again where as her kids would have gotten a little chat and back to bed. I have trouble these days because of all the stresses but the stresses are not my children’s fault or their responsibility to deal with. So I am actively trying to cool down and relax. Thanks to you and my friend I have constant reminders!

    • Oh dear, I hope I’m not nagging!(Except perhaps about turning off the tele. lol) It is hard to separate our own stressors, especially with what you are facing in Saudi at the moment. I just remember being about eight and desparately wanting my Mum to stay with me while I went to sleep – she never did, and it always made me so sad.

  7. hakea says:

    Steve Biddulph (http://web.me.com/stevebiddulph/Site_1/Home.html) says that parents should get to know the other kid’s parents very well. There comes a time in adolescence where your own parents don’t know anything, but all your friends parents are cool. If you know the other parents well, all of the kids and parents have a support network they can turn to.

    An excellent article on wrangling teenagers can be found at http://www.brieftherapysydney.com.au/btis/casestudies/Cade-House.pdf

    Trudy mentioned it above. Every age has its own psychosocial crisis that has to be worked through (Erikson).

    • I totally agree, that teenagers are meant to break away and that we need to know the other adults in their lives. I also think that there will be times when an issue is raised at home, and I think those who know their parents haven’t turned them away in the past – are more likely to be the ones to go to their parents for help in that situation. It might not be a common occurence, but at least they can trust the life-line is there. Thanks for your input, always welcome.

    • Elena says:

      This always brings me back to how we are supposed to live in a village and not in separate little boxes! How much of our familial angst would be easily resolved if our lives (and I’m speaking especially of people in the USA who tend to be so individualistic as to move away from relatives and close themselves off from the community) were intertwined in a healthy way? I think just because you give birth to someone doesn’t mean you are able to be their number one support person forever – look at apprenticeships. Inevitably a kid will be interested in something I don’t know how to do, or their personality needs the interaction of someone with a different personality than mine, or whatever, and when we are closed inside our little nuclear family boxes, we are forced to turn only to each other. It is inevitable that people will feel resentment, dissatisfaction, desperation, and a whole host of other negative emotions.

      • Agree, I also think a lot of so called sibling rivalry would disappear with every day and constant access to other children – those at the same developmental level, if we lived in ‘proper’ communities.

  8. So very true. I can remember holding my twins, often in the middle of the night, as I walked them back to their beds and told them I would always be there whenever for whatever. Now that they are approaching 20, I am blessed that they come to me. They talk with me and ask for help when needed. You are so right. It starts when they are oh so young.

    • Thanks Pier,
      It’s always good to have someone on the other side of those teenage years contributing to these discussions. I can’t see how being praised or punished into staying away from Mum and Dad can be helpful – but that’s what so many parents and parenting ‘experts’ do or advise. Great that your children felt they could come to you when they needed to, it must have been so gratifying.

  9. faemom says:

    That is an awesome way to turn that situation into a teaching moment. I never thought of that.

  10. Pipi says:

    I totally agree with you, Karyn. Most relationship problem between parents and their children lies in the communication issue where kids are just too scared to come to their parents, because previously they were rejected. I love your decision to say “Hello, darling..” to your kids and it’s very inspiring.

    • Thanks Pipi. Sometimes the last thing I feel like saying is, hello darling, but I do it anyway. I do think it is so important for children to *know* deep down inside that their parents are there for them night and day. It is exhausting for the parents sometimes though!

  11. Pingback: Teenagers Who Turn To Their Parents For Help? (via kloppenmum) « Eco-momming It

  12. Judy says:

    You are an inspiration to me. I happen to have a teenager with whom I have been struggling. I pray to find the patience to deal with her impossible demands and attitude. Underneath it all, I want to do exactly what you wrote, but it isn’t always easy. The simplicity of what you wrote was so beautiful and I will hold onto it when I get frustrated. I don’t want to drive my child away so she won’t come to me when she needs me. By the way, thanks for liking my blog posts. You’re the first to do that, and I am so appreciative. Good luck! Judy

    • Hi Judy,
      It’s a pleasure to ‘like’ your posts! My Mum was a charge nurse in a geriatric hospital/home and I worked there as a cleaner when I was a student, so I am reasonably familiar with Alzheimers and have seen families ‘lose’ their loved ones. I also seem to have three musically inclined boys so enjoy the musical posts as well.
      While keeping a connection with our children (and being their safe place to land) is vital, one of the best hints I received about parenting was to reflect their words back at them when they are being exhausting. Eg They say, ‘you’re a b*** and you’ve ruined my life’…the next time they want something from us, we say, ‘but b***s that ruin peoples’ lives can’t do that.’ And repeat that quietly and calmly until there is genuine remorse and discussion, without backing down about the ‘no’ to their request. Good luck with your daughter and your Mum. 🙂

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