Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka-Teen Guide

WELCOME TO YOUR NEW TEEN-DOM! You remember the saying “when you have a child, it is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around your body”? I think it’s really true when you’re the parent of a teen or tween except it’s more like your heart is being stomped. I’ll never forget the day when I realized that with the onset of the tweens, our actual living “time” with our kids was well over halfway done. It was a sad day for me.

This is the age where your child will start to value their friends’ opinion over yours. They’ll spend whatever free time they have with their friends and not you. You will become seemingly uncool and clueless overnight and nothing you say or do is ever right. You can fight it all you want but it’s a fact of life and I imagine if you think back on it, they’re not acting any differently than you and I did when we were that age.

So, how does everyone survive? As the mom of 3 girls who break down into 2 Tweens and 1 Teen, my best advice is with skin thick as steel, a healthy sense of humor and a six-pack of beer. Your child will say and do the most whacked out things and at some point, you’re going to find yourself stooping to their level. You’ll react with punishments and groundings as off the wall as the crime that was committed.

READ MORE: TEENAGERS SUCK

“Not me” you say? Hah. Good luck with that. What can you expect? Well, let me tell you.

1. Grades:

The kid that loved school and had great grades? Don’t be surprised if they tank the first quarter of middle school. Gone are the days of the warm and fuzzy elementary school environment. This is where they are pushed to learn accountability and having ownership over their assignments. It was a hard thing to watch that first “lower than C” grade come home and then later a big, fat F, but we knew that we had to let them see first hand that this was a new game.

2. Friends:

Their friends start shifting at this age, too. The amount of kids in middle school is almost 5 times more than elementary school. Most likely there will be very few of the same kids in their class as they had before. Which means that not only are they meeting new people, but you are as well – because new kids mean new parents. The social life kicks into over-drive and you have to keep an even closer eye on it. I used to enjoy the parties where I could drop the girls off and come back in 2 hours. Now I really wish I could stay and hang out to keep a very watchful eye on the budding interest in the opposite sex. Sounds obvious but know the parents and if there’s a party, make sure that THEY (the parents) are aware of it. How many times did we do the old party flip-flop where we said they were having the party/sleepover and they said we were having it?

3. Communication and technology:

The vast majority of their interaction and conversations happen without a word ever being spoken. They communicate almost entirely by text, Twitter, Instagram and in a lot of cases Snapchat. Email doesn’t exist in their world. The rule in our house is if you have a phone and text, it is subject to random inspection and believe me – we enforce that. I’ve seen a few things that I didn’t like and there were consequences. But you have to take advantage of the fact that they do still look to you for guidance and use it to educate them. If you aren’t already familiar with the sites they use (such as Instagram and Twitter), I would strongly recommend that you get on these sites and familiarize yourself like, yesterday.

READ MORE: LESSONS ON ACCEPTANCE FROM MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER

4. Attitude:

Ah yes, attitude. This is a tough one in our house. I remember being a 14-year-old girl and all the crazy stuff going on in my head and my body. My husband on the other hand, can’t relate as well. He sees the dramatic sighs and eye rolls as nothing short of disrespectful and while he is right in a sense, it really is nothing more than her attempt at creating her own identity and points of views. Decide early on what you’ll let roll off your back and what you won’t allow. For me the big one is to not be cruel or intentionally hurt someone’s feelings. There will be unpopular decisions made. I was once informed that I was SO overprotective and not fair because I wouldn’t allow DD to sleep over at an outdoor party. Uhm yeah… guilty as charged.. sorry if I’m not ready for Co-Ed sleepovers.

We can all agree that this is a trying time for all, but it’s also very rewarding just like every other phase. When they want to spend time with you, it is a great opportunity to reconnect with them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get a better idea of what they’re thinking and who they’re thinking about. Work “hot topics” into the conversation when the chance presents itself. Now more than ever they really need to know that you are there for them and that they can still come to you for advice.

 This post was originally featured on Kristen Daukas’ blog, 4 Hens & A Rooster. Featured image via

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I remember when The Kid was an infant and I was carrying her around in one of those convertible car seat numbers. DH and I were at this store where they sell plants. I don’t know why because my thumb is just about as green as a carrot, but there we were.

A lovely woman walked up to me and said, “Enjoy this stage because it’s the easiest.” I looked at her like she was nuts.

I was in the throe’s of midnight feedings, witching hours and projectile vomit. Not to mention the dairy factory hanging from my chest that made more milk than was demanded. There was no way in hell that she knew what she was talking about.

It turns out, she did know what she was talking about. She was totally and completely 110% correct. The terrible twos were just that. And the threes were beyond awful. I didn’t think anything could be as hard as the threes.

But alas…there was something. The Teen Years. It’s like trying to pass a rock through your rectum. It’s really hard.

I remember being a teen. I sucked. Although my teen isn’t as horrible as I was, she’s still a teen. I will put money down that even Mother Teresa wasn’t all that great when she was 16. Okay, maybe she was. Bad example.

I’m talking about the attitude. You know the one? Yeah, that. Sometimes I fear her. My kid. The kid I pushed out of my down below. The kid I gave life to. The kid who is 31 years younger than me and weighs as much as that one persistent chin hair that keeps appearing out of nowhere.

When I ask a simple question like, “did you do your homework or empty the dishwasher,” I am met by Sybil, the girl with 16 personalities. Accompanied with the ever-present eye-roll. The eye-roll that is universally understood. It says, “I hate you, you are annoying, now go away.”

On top of that, there’s the worry. It was so easy when you knew exactly where they were. Which was usually within yards of us.

There was the quiet fear of injuries from jumping on beds or if they were going to decide to play Hide & Seek when you turned your back for 2 seconds at Kohl’s. Instantly turning us moms into crazed lunatics, screaming for our children, thinking they were gone forever, when they were merely feet away, mocking us from under a clothes round.

These days there are boys (or girls), and cars, and drugs, and alcohol everywhere.  Not to mention social media. Hoping they don’t befriend some deranged stranger who may come and chop her up into little pieces behind the mall.

All these things make you worry so bad, the grays are doing double-time. The wrinkles making a map to Hell on your forehead.

There is also the very simple, scientifically proven fact that teenagers’ brains aren’t fully developed; therefore, allowing them to truly feel they are invincible. This little scientific fact lasts until a human is into their twenties. God help us.

So, what is my advice to survive this stage that is called Teen-dom?

1.) A thick skin

2.) Advil

3.) Strong vodka

4.) Enough patience to make Job (you know, that guy from the bible?) seem like a toddler

5.) Prayer

Other than all that, teens are great. You know, if you like to sit through the same episode of *Caillou 2,000 times while someone is hitting you in the face with a mallet.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little. Perhaps the mallet isn’t necessary.

*For those of you who are blissfully unaware of who Caillou (kie-you) is, he is an annoying and whiney little 4-year old who was created to make the lives of parents everywhere absolute hell on earth.

This post was originally featured on Maureen’s blog, Momfeld

We’re 3 years into this teenage thing with another good 9 years ahead of us and there are some days that I am as clueless as I was when they were babies and toddlers.

At least when they were little and cried you could pretty much narrow down what their problems were. Now when one of them cries, it could start out for one reason and end up being something completely different by the time the last teardrop falls.

I’ve found myself shaking my head and saying “what the hell just happened THERE?!” more often than not.. especially with 2 in the house now.

READ MORE: 7 Things Teens Need To Know About Relationships

Most days I feel like I’m one of those “wah-wah” adults from Charlie Brown.. I talk, offer my sage wisdom (and you know I have a ton of it) and life experiences and they tune me out. Just like I tuned my parents out. But if they were listening to me? These are the 5 things they’d hear me saying most often.

1) The teenage years pretty much suck.

There are no 2 ways about this one. Anyone who tells you they don’t is lying to you and you should stop talking to them. While there are some great points to it, largely the 5 years between 13 and 18 are chock-full of more twists and turns than a roller coaster at Great Adventure. So when you’re having a great day, relish it because most likely, tomorrow (or the next 5 minutes) will be different.

2) The people you’re in school with will disappear when your graduate.

I don’t care if you’ve been BFFs since Kindergarten, unless your entire gang never moves out-of-town once you graduate high-school, you’ll hardly ever see them again. I know it seems insane to think that, but it’s so true. So try and remember that when you’re stressing over who screwed who over and who dissed you for someone else.

READ MORE: An Open Letter To My Son

3) You’re going to get busted. 

Oh this one is so hard because you think you’re so smart and sneaky and while you probably will get away with it a couple of times – maybe even more times than not – at some point you’re going to get cold-hard busted. Why? Because teenagers don’t pay attention to details. Especially when you add social media sites into the mix. I’ve busted my 16-year-old several times because one of the friends I knew she was supposed to be with posted an Instagram shot or sent a tweet out that just happened to land in my lap that indicated an entirely different story.

4) You’ll regret not working harder in class.

High school is what we adults call a necessary evil. No one needs chemistry or Algebra 3 in their everyday life (okay.. SOME people do…) but you have to do it in order to get the credits you need to get in a good college. While it may seem like a great idea to wait til the day before Christmas break is over to start studying for exams, trust us.. it’s not. Take 30 minutes each day and read a little more than you should – it will pay off when you’re going to WFU instead of a community college.

5) Stop worrying about who you make happy.

There are 2 people whose happiness you need to worry about. Yours and your moms. And the funny thing is that if you’re happy, chances are your mom is happy. Unless your dad made me mad. I watch my 16-year-old bust her tail to make her friends happy and you know what? She gets screwed over every time. I’m not saying she’s guiltless in some of the things, but I know she says “I’m sorry” a lot more than she has to in order to make peace with her friends. It’s happening a lot less frequently, so we’re getting somewhere in our lessons. The next time you feel like selling out to make a friend happy, remember #2 above.

All this being said, high-school will be on of the most significant chunks of your life that you remember forever and time will end up weeding out most of the crappy parts. (Until you have kids of your own and are forced to remember the intensely bad moments.) You’ll love seeing your classmates when you come home from college and at your reunions. You’ll always have a sense of pride when you hear that your alma mater won a game and when one of your former teachers passes away, it’ll sweep you back to her class and the lessons she taught.

Hang in there dear, sweet 16-year-olds… while it may seem as though you’re living thru hell, in a blink it will be over. And you’ll wish it were back.

Sort of.

This post was originally featured on Kristen’s blog, Four Hens And A Rooster.

Relationships get really interesting during the teen years. And I’m not just talking about romantic relationships (although, those get REALLY interesting) I’m talking about ALL relationships from friends to parents to siblings to teachers.

But the one thing that is consistent about relationships is that they’re typically between two people and rely heavily on communication and interaction – which is not always easy for teens to process at this young(er) age. Watching my daughters struggle with dealing with some people and how they change in an instant, I thought it would be helpful to offer them some tips on dealing with people and relationships – no matter what level it’s on.

1.) Once a liar, always a liar

I don’t care if you are 5, 15, 35 or 65 – if a person lies to you once, they’ll lie to you twice. And then again after that. You know the old saying “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”? This is the reason that was written. We know it’s really, really hard to believe that someone who you love and/or confided in and called your best friend or boy/girl friend could ever lie to you and wouldn’t it be so easy just to forgive them this one time? Sure, but what’s your plan for when they do it again? Will you be strong enough to walk away then?

2.) Cheaters gonna cheat

Along the same lines as lying, but typical more in romantic relationships,  if someone cheats on you and you find out, you better run for the hills and never look back. Because now they’ve lied AND cheated and if you let them back in, the only thing they’re going to do is get better at not getting caught. Someone who doesn’t respect you enough to stay faithful doesn’t deserve your time much less your attention.

READ MORE: 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Kill Your 12 Year Old

3.) “You can’t tell me who I can be friends with”

I see this a lot with the girls and their friends. It’s this game of “I can be friends with this person but you can’t”. If you are dating someone and there is some reason why they would get upset that you’re friends with someone (another guy for instance.. maybe one you used to date), that’s a bit of a different story. If you have a true relationship and you’re both committed, out of respect for each other this “rule” is okay. But other than that, it’s possessive and not acceptable.

4.) It’s okay to argue

That means you’re both still passionate to care about the relationship. Now what you have to figure out is how to argue, discuss why you’re arguing and – heaven forbid – understand that the other person has a point and may actually be right. This time ;) What you have to watch out for is when arguing starts to be the MAIN thing that you do. If that’s what’s happening, then there is a larger problem there than a one time difference. Another thing to watch for is if the other person won’t listen to your side of the argument. This means they’re only concerned about themselves and that’s not a healthy relationship.

5.) Love does not hurt.

This one should go without saying, but sadly there are so many people who think that abusing someone – either physically or mentally – is acceptable in a relationship. Young girls especially tend to be very insecure and easily manipulated by boys in their lives.  And boys can be as well, but it’s definitely more common in girls. Our kids need to be taught to not hit each other as well as how to get out of an abusive situation and how to ask for help and not fear being judged.

6.) Keeping score is for the football field.

Unless things have become really out of whack with one person doing more than the other, there’s no reason to keep a score on who’s done what, who’s bought what etc. In a relationship you give because you want to and when you start feeling like it’s becoming unbalance, then that’s the time to have a discussion. Plus all adults know that there is ALWAYS $20 floating between two friends.

READ MORE: An Open Letter To Teenagers, Especially The Girls

7.) Don’t lose touch with others.

When you’re in a new relationship – whether it’s a BFF or a new BF – it’s hard to imagine that you will want to spend time with anyone else but you need to. At some point – whether it’s a breakup or a fight –  you’re going to need your family and your friends and if it’s been 6 months since you even picked up the phone to talk to them, they’ll be there for you but that’s just not fair to them. Boy/girlfriends and besties are special but not at the expense on those who’ve been there for you forever.

This post was originally featured on Kristen’s blog, Four Hens And A Rooster.

My Mom has a friend whose daughter is having a difficult time in middle school, and it has spurred a few conversations. Apparently, she is not only being bullied by her peers, but by a parent who is texting her, and getting more catty then a Middle School student. WTF is that about? I can see getting involved in a productive way, but a grown woman texting a 12 year old and calling them awful names? There is definitely a problem here, and what are you teaching your kid?

Through a crazy twist of fate I ended up volunteering at the same dinner as this little girl. There was a situation and coincidentally I ended up sticking up for her. She reminded me of me. I didn’t know until later that night that it was the same girl. How awesome is that?

There are moments when I feel like that little girl. That tween who was just too innocent and naïve to be cool, and I realize that everyone was afraid of something at that age. We’re all afraid of something still! Hopefully, you find your Romy to your Michelle and make it through life less scathed.

My birthday is in August and the year I was going into 7th grade no one came to my birthday party. Before you feel sorry for me just know that while there are moments I’m haunted by this, it’s more that I’m haunted because I know some kid somewhere is facing the same struggle or worse.

It turns out the girls all conspired that I wasn’t “cool,” enough and they would RSVP and then just not show up. They thought that it was really funny, but for me I thought that it defined my worth. I’ve since forgiven those girls. One even apologized.

I was also that kid that just kept going back in for more because I just really wanted to be liked. The same girl that didn’t come to my birthday party was telling me to ask my Mom what a condom was so she could laugh at me. My poor mother was caught so off guard.

I know that it can be difficult. On one hand you want to help your kid, and on the other hand you want to teach them to fight their own battles. I think that we think that once kids are at that self-sufficient age of tying their own shoelaces, washing their own ass, and telling you that you’re annoying and they don’t need you. I’m pretty sure that I can tell you from experience that that is when they need you the most.

Beyond unconditional love, which is super important, here are a few things that may have helped me. I hope that everyone can help each other and it opens up a dialogue…

1. COMMUNICATION: How do you communicate? Do you communicate? Pass each other notes under the dinner table? Do you talk it out? Have a family meeting? Dance it out? What works for you? (Find a way!)

2. RESPECT: you can treat your kid with respect, respect their privacy, and still be aware of what they’re up to.

3. DA TRUF: Be honest and open with them. I didn’t know my Mom was ever 12.

4. WHERE ARE YOU WALKING: Teach them that sometimes the best answer is to take the high road…

5. LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Tell them that it’s okay to stick up for themselves, and know that you’re allowed to stick up for yourself too.

6. NO CELL PHONE RULE: Put your electronics down and really listen to your kids even if they’re being assholes. (Even if you think that they don’t deserve it) I’m not saying to coddle but I’m saying to treat them with respect.

7. YOU ARE WORTHY: Don’t put yourself down in front of them. This breeds similar behavior. Know your worth too!

8. THE SILENT TREATMENT: If they won’t talk to you find someone in your life, maybe even a neutral person that they will talk to and make sure that they are super present.

9. CONTROL: Be specific with your words, and honest about yourself. Do you mean right now or can you wait for them to complete a task? Don’t ask them to do something later, but you mean right now. (I felt like I had no control as a kid.)

10. VALIDATE their worth, their likes, their dreams and goals. They may be different from yours. Their accomplishments. Let them know that you’re proud of them.

11. MISTAKES: Remember that we can all learn from our mistakes, and we’re allowed to make them.

12. LET IT GO! If we can learn one thing from Frozen, Let It Go. Are their things that you can let go of, but you just can’t? Is the end result is the same, but the task at hand is performed in a different way? “You never help! Why don’t they help?
Or do they just not help YOUR way? Is it just what they do is not good enough? It’s okay to let it go.

13. EXPECTATIONS: Expect Less, Encourage More. Strive for excellence not perfection. No one is perfect. Everyone is an individual, we all learn differently, we all have different talents. We all have our limits, and if we set an unreasonably high standard for someone, that person will always let you down. They will feel like they’re letting you down, and that will make them feel inadequate.

14. STOP beating yourself up, parents. There will come a point when your kids realize that you were just doing the best that you can.

15. BE PRESENT

Photo courtesy of thebluecloset.com.

Dropping your child off at college is one of the biggest milestones of your child’s life and a parent’s day of reckoning – having to let your child go. It’s a day filled with great anticipation, emotion, mixed feelings, and, of course, stress. And it’s your job to make sure it goes smoothly.

The key to making move-in day successful lies in being prepared and remaining flexible. By now you should have purchased all your essential items (Target has an excellent printable shopping list and Bed Bath & Beyond offers online shopping lists specific for most colleges,) and had “The Talk” about roommates, friends, campus safety, health, drinking, and, yes, S-E-X.

We’ve packed and moved two kids into college 5,000 miles from home and learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t. We survived those big days and now look back at them fondly (lots of smiling photos for proof). So will you.

Do’s:

1. Have your child contact their roommate and introduce him/herself via e-mail or Facebook. Oftentimes this is when they will decide who will bring a refrigerator or TV. As the parent, I’m sure you’ll be looking over their shoulder to Facebook stalk their roommate’s photos. Try not to make comments or pass judgements, like “Gee, he’s a real winner” or “Wow, I guess she likes to party.”

2. If possible, arrive at least one day ahead of move-in day to give yourself time to pickup your purchases at major stores (if you’ve arranged for them to be held for pickup), last minute purchases (there always are) and explore your child’s new surroundings if they allow you to be seen with them.

3. Get a good night’s sleep the night before and have a hearty breakfast before move-in day begins. Arriving tired and cranky for this busy day will cause your energy and moods to quickly head south. Not a good combination and not a good first impression on your roommate who will learn soon enough what you’re all about.

4. Have your move-in directions, schedule, and maps printed out and on hand. Familiarize yourself with them ahead of time. Approach this like a Navy Seal and you’ll be fine.

5. Bring healthy snacks and plenty of water, save the wine for later no matter how much you think you need it now. (We picked up a case for the room. Water, not wine).

6. In addition to a small tool set, duck tape, and sticky-hooks, bring a roll of paper towels and 409 or Lysol Wipes to give the room a good once over before unpacking and making the bed. There’s a good chance this might be the only time that room is actually cleaned the entire year.

7. Exchange contact information with the roommate and his/her parents – for emergency use only. Not spying on your child to see if he/she has done their homework or is still hungover.

8. Do pack some small framed family photos for their desk or nightstand even if they say they don’t want them. Once they see their roommate’s photos they’ll be sad they don’t have one of Rover or Aunt Sally.

9. Bring a small First Aid Kit and include Advil, Tylenol and a thermometer -because they will get sick and you will be far, far away and will want to know what their temperature is every half hour when they have pneumonia. Or maybe that’s just me.

10. Pack earplugs, headphones, and a sleep mask, so they can sleep or watch TVwithout disturbing each other. This stretches out the honeymoon phase at least two more weeks.

Don’ts:

1. Don’t pack for your child. Involve them in the process so they know what they have and where it’s at. Though if they’re like mine, they will call you anyway to ask where it is. Don’t get frustrated. One day the calls will be too few and far between, so that phone call is a blessing.

2. Don’t pack the entire closet, like our fashionista did. Closets are small and there is limited drawer space. Who’d a thought?! And ship as little as possible. There will be long (really long!) lines at the school post office, so try to arrive as soon as it opens if you must. Check these hours ahead of time. (Remember the Navy Seal part?)

3. Don’t take over the unpacking, decorating or setting up of your kid’s room. This is their space and their chance to be independent. Chances are they will move things around the moment you walk out the door anyway.

4. Don’t shut the door while you unpack even though you’re pulling out the skivvies. Bring a doorstop and keep that door propped open. You’ll be surprised how many of their neighbors will stop by to chat and be amazed at how much crap you’ve brought. We did this with both our kids and it was a wonderful icebreaker.

5. If issues arise during move-in, don’t involve yourself in the conflict. Let your child handle this themselves. After all, they will be the one living with the roommate, not you.

6. Bring tissues, but try to hold it together. Yes, this is a huge milestone in your child’s life and, perhaps for you, the beginning of an empty nest, but it’s also an incredibly exciting time in your child’s life and the realization of years of hard work (yours and theirs!) and should be celebrated.

7. Don’t miss an opportunity to take photos and get in as many hugs and kisses as your child will allow. Preferably not in front of their new roommate.

8. Don’t blow off the orientation programs. Watching paint dry may be more entertaining, but they’re a wonderful way to learn more about the school and to meet other parents and students. The more opportunities your child has to meet other kids the better.

9. Don’t forget to pack a little surprise in their suitcase (their little sister left behind is a good start) and send a small care-package 4-6 weeks after move-in with their favorite snacks, magazines, or something small. Something Vegasy like poker chips or glitzy beauty products always go over well.

10. Resist the urge to smother. Do call or text to check up on them after you leave so they know you’re thinking of them, but don’t helicopter parent no matter how tempting it may be. They will brush their teeth and change their underwear…at some point. This is for them to figure out. I promise, they’ll be doing this on their own by graduation day.

Good luck!

Originally posted at Linda’s blog, Carpool Goddess.  Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post.