I had a fascinating chat with Olivia (not her real name) about how she felt as a child and teenager witnessing the difficulties in her parents' marriage after her father was unfaithful to her mother over the course of several years.
Olivia's parents are still together, but throughout her teenage years she was affected by the impact her father's affairs had on her own life, and on her mother's emotional health. From financial losses and the need to change schools, to difficulties in seeing her extended family, the practical problems of a messy marriage weren't the only challenges Olivia faced.
She says that any parents navigating the potential breakdown of their marriage need to bear in mind that having to monitor and worry about the state of your parents' relationship is really tough on a child, especially when they're just discovering who they are themselves, with all the stresses that brings.
Her biggest piece of advice? Understand that your kids are teenagers. They have their own problems, and will find the addition of yours overwhelming at times. As such, Olivia says that whilst it's important to be honest with teens, you also need to make sure you don't burden them with more information than they can handle at that moment. There will come a time for whole truths, but perhaps that time isn't always in the moment.
- Charity Relate has a good page on how to talk to children about divorce and separation
- Voices in the Middle is an organisation created for young people by young people, and can offer tips to parents about how to start the conversation on relationship difficulties.
More teenage parenting tips:
There are lots more episodes of the Teenage Kicks podcast. You can email me on [email protected]. I’ve also got some posts on the blog that might help parents with other teenage parenting dilemmas, so do pop over to Actually Mummy if you fancy a read.
Thank you so much for listening! Subscribe now to the Teenage Kicks podcast to hear all my new episodes. I'll be talking to some fabulous guests about difficult things that happened to them as teenagers - including losing a parent, becoming a young carer, and being hospitalised with mental health problems - and how they overcame things to move on with their lives.
You can also find more from me on parenting teenagers on Instagram and Twitter @iamhelenwills. I'm delighted to say that I've recently been added to this list of top teen parenting podcasters, which - after only two series I'm super proud of.
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Please note that I am not a medical expert, and nothing in the podcast should be taken as medical advice. If you're worried about a teenager, please seek support from a medical professional.
Teenage Kicks Podcast
Welcome to the Teenage Kicks podcast, where we take the fear out of parenting - or becoming - a teenager. The internet is full of parenting advice, from when you feel those first baby kicks, until they reach secondary school. And then it stops. No one is talking about teen parenting problems; so we’re going to.
Essential listening for teenagers and their parents, as well as those who work with young adults; Teenage Kicks has teen mental health at its core, and each episode will empower young people to tackle their own problems, and give parents the guidance to know how to help them.
Each week Helen speaks to real individuals who've experienced the issues that young people are dealing with now, and they don't sugar-coat it. From exam nerves and career worries to issues around sexuality and consent, we get tips and advice from expert guests who understand what it’s like to be a teenager today.
Helen will also be chatting about tough teenage problems like cyberbullying and self-harm, drugs, alcohol and teenage pregnancy, all with a heavy dose of reality from someone who's been there and made it through to the other side.
Teenage Kicks for Parents:
As parents, we understand some of our kids’ struggles, but let’s face it, it’s been a while, and things have moved on since we last panicked over a detention! Teenage choices today can seem alien to their parents because teenage life has changed so dramatically since we were young. Teenage Kicks helps you unravel topics like social media, sexting and teen self-esteem so that you can figure out what your child needs support with, and what’s just normal teenage behaviour.
Teenage Kicks for Teens:
Teenagers and parents come at things from different angles, we know. But teenage life can be challenging, and the support of your parents can make navigating tricky dilemmas easier. Teenage Kicks guests aren’t adults who’ve read a textbook; nor are they heavily invested in your day-to-day safety, like your mum and dad. They are real people who’ve been through what you’re dealing with, and they have the inspiration and advice you need to handle it yourself.
Join Helen each week as she chats to a different guest about topics affecting teenagers in 2020, and helps parents and teens to open up a dialogue that will make life easier to navigate on all sides.
You'll also find me chatting about teen parenting here:
This series of the Teenage Kicks Podcast is sponsored by Blue Microphones, who gave me the fabulous Yeticaster mic for all my recordings. It's really straightforward to use, and gives me great sound quality without too much editing.