5 Tips for Raising Teens if You're a 50-Something Parent


The age gap between you and your teen might require a different parenting style.

By Barbara Greenberg, PhD for GalTime
parenting tips for older parents

Serendipity always amazes me. Just as I was thinking about 50-something year old parents raising teens, I got a call from a dear college friend.

She herself is a 54-year-old with a 14-year-old daughter. She went on to say that she feels excluded by the younger mothers and often feels clueless about current teen culture.

The triggering event was when a group of teens including her daughter was talking about music of which both the teens and the other mothers appeared to be aware.  She was embarrassed that she was unfamiliar with this music.

There are, according to many of the parents that I've spoken with, benefits to being a mid-life parent. Some parents report feeling more mature and less anxious than they would have been during their younger years.

Related: Is "Grandma" too Old Fashioned?

The parents who had older children, as well, feel that they learned from their prior experience raising teens. Fathers often state that that as their wives age they act less as barriers between them and their children. These same dads describe enjoying the additional input and time that they have with their teens.

Like my friend described earlier, mid-life parents of teens sometimes describe feeling significantly disadvantaged. They describe feeling isolated from other parents. Some of these parents describe lacking the stamina and energy that they had when their older children were teens.

Others feel out of touch with various aspects of teen culture. The two may go hand in hand, they worry. If they had more energy perhaps they would be more motivated to listen to the trending teen music, watch some of the teen reality shows, etc.

The teen offspring of these 50+ parents have lots to say. Some feel that they get away with more than their peers. Others feel that they benefit from parents who are more relaxed.

Suggestions for Success:

1. Trust and use the wisdom of your years during your teenagers' journey. Both you and they are likely to benefit from the knowledge and intuition that experience has given you.

2. You are likely delighted and appreciative to have these children. My guess is that the teens will benefit from being with parents who have waited so long for them and enjoy them.

Related: The Things Moms Miss When the Nest is Empty 

3. Parents of all ages should focus on being their teens' parent . The answer to whether or not any parent should be their teens' friend is an unequivocal no. Teens need their parents to be authority figures who provide structure and set limits and boundaries. After all, when was the last time you told your friend to do their homework or what time to come home? The hope is that your teens have their own friends.

4. Additionally, parents across the board should be available to talk and listen to what their teens have to say. A little interest goes a long way. Provide opportunities for disclosure and they are likely to open up to you.

5. Consider monitoring the trending teen music and other forms of entertainment.  Parents of  all ages may benefit from being familiar with teen role models' influence on their children.   

Keep in mind that no matter how many candles there are on your birthday cake, you and your teens will likely experience the teen years as a journey punctuated by ups and downs.

And no matter how you slice that cake, your age is neither completely protective nor problematic. 

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.