National Public Radio, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, recently conducted a poll of 2,500 adults to look at the extent of stress in America. Among groups most likely to report a great deal of stress in their lives over the past month include those who live with teenagers.
NPR then posted a call for more comments on its Facebook page, to which hundreds of parents responded. One mother wrote it’s “mind-blowing how stressful having teenagers is.” Another wrote, “Once, I controlled the big decisions in their life. Now they make decisions that can have drastic consequences. I feel like I am running out of time to teach them the important lessons they need.”
According to NPR, numerous parents wrote about the difficulties of teenage defiance. Constant questioning and challenging can be stressful for parents, but experts say it’s actually a healthy part of growing up, and it often means parents are doing everything right.
When it comes to stress, parenting a teen is “inherently stressful even in the best scenarios,” says David Palmiter, a clinical psychologist, professor at Marywood University in Scranton, Pa., and creator of the blog HecticParents.com. Palmiter, in the NPR interview, suggests special “one on one” time with your teenager. This means “being there” completely, cellphone unplugged, talking with your teen or observing them do an activity they enjoy like drawing, shooting basketball or playing an instrument. He says just one hour a week of this special time can repair major differences and bring much-needed calm to households with teens.
Many psychologists say the best parents can do is keep working to instill positive values and life skills in their children.