How To Survive 'The Battle Years' Of Parenting — Without Emotional Scars

Remember, you're the grownup, and words matter.

father discliplining daughter - Yuri A / Shutterstock 

How do you handle your own emotions and keep balanced when your children are testing boundaries (without emotionally checking out)?

Being a parent is the most important job you will ever have. It is something you won’t really understand fully until that sweet bundle of joy is first placed in your arms. And so it begins. You fall in love with this little one who now depends totally on you for everything. Off you go now on this amazing, wonderful adventure. They don’t come with instructions other than the basics.


Each child is their own specifically marvelous self and you will learn as you go what works best for both of you. One thing is for sure, you will have days you feel exhausted, maybe even resent the fact that you now have just about no time for yourself. 

The days of freedom you once took for granted are seemingly gone. Don’t worry — you are not alone. You are now in training for the years ahead.

Focus on bonding, loving every new accomplishment and finding what works best when you need to say No at times. Teach early on the importance of talking about feelings while always providing a safe place to do that. 


In those early formative years, especially when you reach the “terrible twos” you may feel overwhelmed and even depressed at times. This is a very normal feeling for many of us in those early years. It is important to talk about your feelings — and remember to laugh!

RELATED: 5 Simple Phrases Savvy Parents Use To Persuade Their Teens To Open Up

RELATED: 5 Secretly Effective Ways To Talk To Your Kids (So They Actually Listen)


Make a plan for clear, calm communication 

As you approach middle school and the ups and downs of the teen years, you have probably developed a strong bond and have your own way of talking with your child about real-life issues. These middle school years are critical as peer pressure has more influence than you at times. Stay proactive and keep the lines of communication open.

Here are a few ideas to help you plan for clear, calm communication:

  • Talk with your significant other and plan regular special times for both of you. 
  • Talk with friends who have kids. It helps to know these are normal feelings. 
  • Plan occasional “Parents and kids” get-togethers. Make it something all look forward to.  
  • Plan special times with your child that will become memories they will cherish later. My son still remembers the many times we went to the duck pond and he fed the ducks.

RELATED: How To Help A Teen Who Has Very Few Friends & Is Suffering With Loneliness

Teen years — brace for battle

The “Battle Years” are in full force during the teen years. This is when your teen is testing boundaries, wanting to be with friends rather than you, possibly experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol, and sneaking out at night. As a parent, you need to be approachable if your teen wants to talk about what is going on. Talk about how it feels to you if they are out late and you don’t know where they are. Let them know they can always call you for any reason they don’t feel good about. 


Start a new tradition of a special day to go out together for lunch and just have uninterrupted time together. When you first mention it, you may hear that your teen would rather be with their friends. Give it a try and they will soon look forward to that special time with you. You will look forward to it also.

Here are a few more helpful tips to maintain a strong, loving connection with your kids through effective communication:

  • The more you listen and don’t overreact, the better you will connect.
  • The more you share, without judgment, how you feel about a situation, the more they will listen and understand.
  • Set reasonable boundaries and explain why.
  • Set reasonable consequences and explain why.
  • Ask if they have any questions or thoughts they want to share and actively listen. 
  • Read to your child every night before bed. 

RELATED: How To Give A Teenager Advice They'll Actually Follow

No two kids communicate the same way

Some kids are easy and some may try your patience but each one may require a different approach. As the oldest of seven children, I think back on how our Mom treated each of us as if we were the most special. We all have favorite memories of the time she gave each of us.


Each week, she would take one of us out to eat and talk about what was going on at school, with friends, or anything else we wanted to talk about. Dad would stay home with the others. He was always a lot of fun so we all have great memories of those times. 

The teen years can certainly seem full of many “battles” at times trying your patience.

It is important to remember they will soon be off to college or other adventures. You have made it to the “You got your life back” moments.


You may even miss the ups and downs of the years that now seem to have gone by too fast. As I said in the beginning, each child is unique, and learning how to communicate and listen effectively will be important for both of you.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Help Your Teen Build Authentic, Lasting Friendships

Suzanne Geimer is an RN and singer/songwriter with extensive experience specializing in reaching at-risk teens through music. She is also the founder of Special Angel Inc.