From Terrible Twos to Terrible Teens – What’s a Parent to do? By Fern Weis, Parent Coach




Living with a teen can be utterly draining. It reminds me of parenting a toddler. You might want to trade them in, but there are no returns, no refunds, no exchanges, all sales are final. What’s a mom or dad to do?

Have you ever noticed the similarities between toddlers and teens? I remember when my son was a toddler. He had way too much energy. He didn’t like to hear the word ‘no’. It was difficult to understand him because his words weren’t always clear. When he wanted something he kept going and going. It took every bit of strength I had to outlast him. He was sweet and loving, and believed that he was the center of the universe. Well he was, at least until his sister was born.

Does this sound like your teen? Teens speak their own language which is often incomprehensible to us. They definitely don’t react well to ‘no’. When they want something, or don’t want to do something, they are masters of deflection and distraction. They push every button you have to throw you off balance until you can’t remember what you really wanted in the first place. And in their mind, the universe revolves around them.

Another thing that toddlers and teens have in common is the need to separate, to not need us. This is where the tantrums and rebellion come from. They know everything, they’re going to figure it out themselves, so please back off mom and dad. But you’re so used to being needed that you don’t know how to let go. Two small words that are loaded with worry, fear, and helplessness: letting go. You can’t hover the way you did when they were two or five or eight. Those days had better be over, because if not, you will create anxious, insecure kids.

So the next time you’re being a control junkie ask yourself, “How important is it for me to be right?” and “What’s the worst that could happen”?

The answers are (1) Being right is a matter of ego, so let it go (those words again!) and (2) the worst is usually not as bad as you think it will be, and is more about your discomfort than your kid’s.

So stop turning a problem into a crisis and let them handle it, and the consequences. You will live through it, I promise.



Fern Weis is a certified life coach who learned that caring and good intentions are not enough in parenting.  In fact, they are often the problem! Fern supports parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, including addiction recovery.  She helps parents release guilt, end enabling and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life's challenges. Her articles are featured in Thrive Global, Medium, Motherly, The Teen Mentor, and Bergen County Moms.  

Learn more about coaching and classes at www.fernweis.com. And then download your free guide, "Five Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk." For information on Family Recovery programs, visit www.familyrecoverypartners.com.

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