The Most Powerful Parenting Tips (from Successful Teens)

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As I sit in the classroom of my former school, I think about what it was like thirty-five years ago when I was a teenager sitting in these exact same desks.

There were no cell phones or computers, no social media, no select sports, and no SAT prep classes. Well, at least not one that I took. 

I greet the seniors as they are coming into my AP English class and ask them how they are doing. I am a substitute teacher and have not seen these kids in a while.

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Daughter holding flowers and kissing her mom. The Most Powerful Parenting Tips (from Successful Teens)

Most of them are begging to play games or sleep in my class because their minds and bodies are just plain tired, yet they have assignments from other classes that look like only a rocket scientist could figure out.

Truthfully, I know they are about to hit another wave of stress and exhaustion when they graduate. Life is going to get exponentially more difficult than what they are feeling right now. They’ll figure it out soon.

RELATED: 4 Brilliant Tricks to Stop Teen Entitlement in Your Family

The Most Important Decisions in Life

What I really want to tell them during this class period is the most important decisions in life happen between the ages of 16 and 25. That is you, right now!

Everything I am today, at 50 years of age, was mostly decided back in those precious years they are in now. My career, spouse, values, habits, and faith were mostly solidified by the age of 25, but the foundation was laid much earlier. And, ironically, at this school.

What I also want to say is the ages of 16-25 are the most carefree and careless years. What they do in secret is who they really are. The habits (good or bad) they are developing will probably stay with them throughout life.

RELATED: 15 Life-Altering Reasons For Kids to Wait Until Marriage

I know their teachers and parents have been telling them this for years. But I have the urge to say it one more time…just in case. Again, I keep my mouth shut. Miraculous!

As I start talking to them, I realize they are definitely prepared academically as well as spiritually. They are going to be fine. Perhaps, I have something to learn from them instead.

RELATED: Parenting Tips: When Your Baby Leaves Home For Good

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

 Purchase your ebook or paperback on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

Powerful Parenting Tips from Successful Teens

Once I realized I had some of the best kids in the school, I decided to ask them what their parents did right. There had to be a secret sauce. I bet I could learn some powerful parenting tips from them.

Kids like this do not just randomly happen.

They are cut, molded, and polished over many years. Instead of making them do any assignments this class period…we talked. Here are the six things I learned about the parents (and teachers) who developed these successful teens:

1. Positive reinforcement

They all said they were so thankful for the positive reinforcement given to them by not only their parents but the teachers. They liked it when they were caught doing “good.”

RELATED: Teacher Secrets to Help You Get to Your Child’s Heart

2. Relationship with parents

Each student reinforced the fact they had a good relationship with their parents. It wasn’t always perfect, but they knew they were loved. The relationship was strong enough that they didn’t want to disappoint them.

RELATED: 7 Life-Changing Steps to Help You Stop Yelling at Your Kids

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6 Powerful Parenting Tips From Successful Teens. Keyboard with flowers on the table.

3. Real-world experience

They all loved it when their parents trusted them with some real-world experience (freedom).  One person said that being too strict can create a liar. I tried to explain that priveledges needed to be earned. I think that may have passed over their heads. 

RELATED: The Best Way to Raise a Smart Child Who Is Wise

4. Being relatable

They liked it when their parents told them about their own mishaps as a young person. They wanted parents to be honest about their mistakes and remember what it was like to be a teen. Get real, parents!

RELATED: Should You Apologize to Your Child? 5 Things Happen When You Don’t

5. Approachable

They appreciated it when their parents were approachable. They said they hated it when their parents overreacted to the small stuff. When they did that, they were less likely to tell their parents about the big stuff. Ouch, I am pretty sure I did that as a parent. 

RELATED: Parenting Tips: When Your Baby Leaves Home For Good

6. Balanced rules

The seniors said they wanted the rules to make sense. “Because I said so…” was a real pet peeve. They liked knowing why they can’t or shouldn’t do something. They appreciated it when their parents or teachers took the time to explain “why.”

RELATED: The Ultimate Secret to Change Your Teen’s Attitude

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The Most Powerful Parenting Tips (from Successful Teens). Desk with pens, clips, and flowers.

Final Thoughts on Successful Teens

From my conversation with the senior AP class, I gathered most of them have parents on the firmer side. They expect a lot out of them, but they are reasonable for the most part. There is a solid relationship built that will weather the storms.

As a parent, I can say this age is hard. There is a balance of earned trust mixed with fear because you know your teen is curious and a bit foolish still. There is this constant push and pull before your baby flies out of the nest.

I appreciate the seniors giving other parents the most powerful parenting tips. If I could sum it up in a few sentences from them it would be the following:

“Thank you for developing a relationship with us and encouraging us to be the best. Trust us with what we have learned. We will make you proud. When we do mess up (and we will), please continue to love us as your own.”

Don’t forget to pray for your kids!

RELATED: How to Pray for Your Kids in Your War Room

Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!

Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book with a single tree on the book

Creating Family Memories Book

Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

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Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.

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  1. Andrea on November 26, 2019 at 11:29 am

    These are great tips – thank you for sharing! I have a tween and a soon to be tween, and I need all the help I can get lol!! It’s quite the roller coaster. xo

    • Julie Plagens on December 1, 2019 at 2:45 pm

      I am so glad these tips helped you. Raising tweens and teens is not easy. Stay strong and don’t give up your values as a family just because everyone else is doing it.

  2. Kayla on January 26, 2019 at 11:32 am

    I personally think being approachable is so important. I want my kids to know that they can come to me or their father for ANYTHING! We will always be there for them when they need advice, help etc. This is especially true for topics like sex, drugs, alcohol, periods, etc.

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:11 pm

      This is so important. I am glad you are approachable about anything. I bet you are great parents! The most powerful parenting tips are ones parents actually use!

  3. Courtney on January 25, 2019 at 8:47 am

    These are wonderful! I love that these tips are from teens! Looks like you have some smart kids on your hands!

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:11 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, they are great!

  4. Mary | This Indulgent Life on January 25, 2019 at 2:51 am

    It’s so interesting. When ask what they wanted, most of it is what science has said to do for over 50 years! Just proof that often kids really do know what they need if we can just trust and respond a little.

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:15 pm

      Kids are pretty honest about what they really need. I know they want no rules and all privileges, but they will usually meet somewhere in the middle once you start telling them what is expected.

  5. Elizabeth | Tiredmom Supermom on January 24, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    This is so helpful! Thank you for presenting these tips in an easy to understand matter.

  6. Lindsay on January 24, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    I love this list! I am a mother of an 8 and 10 year old and the looming teenage years sometimes worry me. I will definitely keep these points in mind. Great post!

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      The teen years can be hard, but if you will stay on your knees, you will be fine. I am sure you will have your own set of parenting tips when you get there.

  7. Tricia | on January 24, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    Yes I love all of these tips! They were all things I craved from my parents especially relatability. I feel like they acted/talked like they were great teens and rarely something about them not wanted me to go through the same things they went through… but I had no clue what they were talking about because they never shared about their experiences.

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:18 pm

      I think it is hard for parents to share because they are either embarrassed or they don’t want to give you some sort of leverage. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Sara Ross on January 24, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this. I notice that “Letting me play the Xbox ALL THE TIME.” or “Giving me all the I ever asked for.” aren’t on the list. I go round and round with my oldest about these subjects. I have a hard time getting through to him that some of these things are just that, things, and hold no value. Your beliefs, values, positive relationships and hard work are the things that hold value in your life.

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:20 pm

      You won’t be the most popular person in the house, but letting them do whatever they want will backfire in the long run. Keep up the expectations! And don’t let them run over you! Boys can be a handful at times.

  9. Margaret Westhoff on January 24, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    These are all amazing tips. It’s nice to hear the teens’ perspective on what their parents did right. Positive reinforcement and developing a relationship with my kids are two of my top priorities as a mom.

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      I am so glad that you are developing a relationship with your kids. It will be a great foundation for when the storms come along. Thanks for your comment.

  10. Breanna on January 24, 2019 at 11:30 am

    I so agree with positive reenforcement. I work with someone that had high functioning autism and he lashes out when you get on his case, but you reward when he does good and he just thrives.

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      Autism makes it really hard to parent, but having a reward system works for about any kid. Glad you have figured this out.

  11. Meagan on January 24, 2019 at 10:52 am

    Wow! These are some awesome points. Very helpful for me as a mom of 2 sassy girls. ?

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:24 pm

      Ugh! I have had experienced some sassy moments. Just stay focused on their character and keep driving home with what is acceptable with rewards and consequences. Thanks for your comment.

  12. Sherry on January 24, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Oh, I absolutely LOVE this! As a mother of 4 children ranging from 8-20 years old, I truly value that I have a close relationship with each of my kids. There are times when my husband and I are certainly not popular with our kids in terms of decisions made, but love always remains. Being close to our kids is an absolute gift!

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:26 pm

      I am so glad you have taken the time to get close to your kids. It takes a lot of hard work and diligence to do this. Thanks for your comment.

  13. Melanie on January 24, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Honestly, this was so helpful to me. I am just barely stepping into the life of parenting a teen and I so badly want to do it correctly. This not only gives me hope, but also great direction!

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:28 pm

      I am so glad you are looking for wisdom and guidance from others who have been through it. The teen years are hard but they have lots of fun moments. Check out my blog on praying for your teen. It might give you some reinforcement!

  14. Judy on January 24, 2019 at 8:21 am

    I love this. We have a baby and a toddler and are already working on positive reinforcement and building out relationship with our boys. I want to make sure they feel comfortable talking to us and we have that open communication.

    • Julie Plagens on February 15, 2019 at 7:56 pm

      Judy, that is great. You are starting off on the right foot. Thanks for your comment.

  15. Natasha @MrsChettyLife on January 24, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Lovely advise. Being relatable is a very important thing. Children learn by what they see.

    • Julie Plagens on January 29, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment. Children do learn by example, that is for sure!

  16. Yolanda on January 21, 2019 at 8:41 am

    I feel really good reading this as I feel like we are on the right track. Saying that I want to ask our kids what they think!

  17. Julie Plagens on January 19, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    My kids went through some difficult times too. It was the foundation we built with them before those tough years that made the difference. Keep praying and doing the right things. Your child will eventually circle around if you use agape love. Parenting is not for the weak-minded, that is for sure. Thanks for your comment.

  18. Amylee on January 19, 2019 at 11:10 am

    I would love to share this with my blog audience. Great advice. I have two teens and a tween. My blog audience probably runs younger, as far as parenting stage. But keeping these in mind as you approach the teen years would be wise!

    • Julie Plagens on January 19, 2019 at 5:11 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing this. I really appreciate it. I know some of these principles like building a relationship start early. Hopefully, your audience will see the value in working towards these things as their kids develop. Thanks for your comment.

  19. Edith on January 19, 2019 at 7:04 am

    I love how simply you presented these rules. We have a joke in my area that every parent claims to have been the best in class when they were students, lol! Being relatable is very important for young people, rather than setting impossible standards for them. Great post, all round. ❤️

    • Julie Plagens on January 19, 2019 at 5:13 pm

      Edith, isn’t that so true? We want to believe only the best parts of our youth. It is a little embarrassing to remember the boo-boos. Thanks for your comment.

  20. Kristina G on January 19, 2019 at 6:37 am

    This is great info! Pinning to share with others. I have two teen boys. My husband and I are not perfect but I believe we do all the things you described. I definitely think it has worked well with one of our boys, the other, well, I think he’s going through a phase, but hopefully the foundation we have laid out will help him come back around.

    • Julie Plagens on January 19, 2019 at 5:15 pm

      My kids went through some difficult times too. It was the foundation we built with them before those tough years that made the difference. Keep praying and doing the right things. Your child will eventually circle around if you use agape love. Parenting is not for the weak-minded, that is for sure. Thanks for your comment.

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