How to Raise a Happy Teen

Possible? Plausible? Urban legend?

Actually no. Listen all you parents of young girls, you don’t have to stress. I have the secret to success and since I have been asked, many times to share it, I thought, what better way than my daughter’s sixteenth birthday week.

First off, throw out the schedules, unless you want your child a stressed out ball of anxiety, screeching monkey, and peeling the wall paper. Micro-managing is not the answer. Forget it. I think the most routine we had was Barney singing on TV and bath time. Those were pretty reliable. I can’t even remember if I made her brush her teeth much less have a bed time. It was by nine (or ten).

She slept with me as an infant until after breastfeeding. Then, I laid down with her as a toddler until she fell asleep. Eventually I just gave her my bed – problem solved. A three-year old in a double bed with no worries of her falling out of it. Heck, the twin wasn’t so bad (heh). If I had only known what it took for her to fall asleep on her own, I would have given her that big old bed moons ago.

She had a room with her very own bathroom by age ten along with a cell phone. Yes, a real one. She grew up on McDonald’s chicken nuggets and fries except for the occasional dinner I would cook, ground beef in a bowl or Kids Cuisine. Yeah, McD’s was much better. Let’s not forget mom’s breakfast either. Cinnamon toast, hold the toast, just pass the butter and sugar. She had candy and soda when she wanted and never gorged on it. Never thought it was a big deal. Never obsessed about it (unlike me).

Right now, that girl has EASTER candy from last year on her dresser. IN PLAIN SIGHT. Never opened. Yeah, it’s gross but my point is, she used to have to hide candy from ME. She could care less about it while I hunted it down. She eats it when she wants to, no big deal.

She dressed herself from age two on. I didn’t care if it matched. I don’t think anyone else did either but she had a scary eye for colors and shoes even at age two. Of course, she did change clothes – a lot. Luckily, I like doing laundry.

I took her EVERYWHERE to EVERYTHING from a week old up. Plane rides, car rides, shopping, showers, funerals, weddings, movies, sporting events, work, and many, many kid things too. We sang. We danced. I never missed a Barney beat. Mary Kate & Ashley? The Olsen twins – AFTER Full House – they rocked. We had every VCR episode on tape. I’m not kidding. Every. One.

In our house, if you heard Sponge Bob come on the Cartoon Network, you were to immediately drop what you were doing. Run, not walk, to the living room and BELT the theme song at the top of your lungs.

I guess I could have put her in time out if she didn’t, but I don’t think she ever had time out. Nor was she spanked (maybe once?). I think she has been grounded twice (her entire life that is).

She had bad grades in elementary, 2nd grade, but then again she was diagnosed with ADHD. She had been through a big move from one city to another, from one school to another. It’s no wonder. Poor kid.

Maybe you think this is a recipe for a “bad” kid. I mean…I didn’t follow all the rules, right? Spoiled, entitled, does what she wants with no consequences. I’m too much of friend not a mom. Is she really sneaking out to party?

Busted! New Year’s Eve boozing it up!

Well, no. Actually she likes hanging out with me. I have no idea why.

Maybe it’s how I roll….

I have never held anything back from Sydney. She knows my mistakes. BIG ONES. She knows my failures. EVEN BIGGER. I was never anything but honest to her. I’m not perfect. I’m just mom. No one ever said I had to be. If I do admit to any regret, it’s from not enjoying her baby years more. I was too worried about being a mom, not sure when that changed. Maybe after my 1000th and one one MILLIONTH and one mom failure.

One thing is for sure, she never doubted I loved her. The only thing I stood firm on was NO DRUGS. I promised to shave her head if she ever tried them (still would Sydney! Bald as an egg). The only horror I put her through (besides ex #2) was riding the Jurassic Park Adventure at Universal Studios. She cried in line. Hey, we came all the way to Orlando, she was RIDING IT! She STILL denies enjoying it. Of course the picture tells a different story, it was pretty pitiful with her and her cousin hunkered down under the bar, faces twisted in horror frozen in a scream. My bad. That really was an awesome ride, those dinosaurs looked soooo real.

So hear me out. Stop stressing. Be honest. Don’t say, DO. Laugh, at everything. Sing, off-key. Dance, radically. Live, so your inside child never dies. RELAX. Have faith. Enjoy every moment before it’s gone.

Just be careful who is watching. You may influence a new generation.

Hey Sydney….

Thanks for being so incredibly amazing. You really did it on your own (didn’t you?). I feel like I was along for the ride (except when you drive, please let me out at that point). You never cease to amaze me with your funny humor, easy-going stride, and your slice of pure cool awesomeness. I am so grateful you are my daughter.

My mom swears I didn’t get the experience of raising a “real” kid. Whatever you are, I hope you always stay the same – glowing with your inner brightness and child-like spirit – I hope you stay a happy teenage girl forever.

56 thoughts on “How to Raise a Happy Teen

  1. I’m always in awe of relaxed parents. I see some kids in our extended family and they all seem perfectly good and sensible after having a relaxed up bringing. Sadly for my two, I just can’t do it – I’m afraid they are going to have to tough it out πŸ™‚


    1. erin

      LOVE IT!! that is pretty much how i brought up my daughter Alana.she is 19, never touched the drugs and really doesnt want anything to do with drinking.Lovin the Barney! Her first concert was STYX and she went EVERYWHERE with me! beautiful story!


  2. Lori Schmidt Lutze

    I used to be a high school guidance counselor. Lots of people could benefit from your advice.

    Hey, how did you like Milwaukee? What is your new job?How is your job going? How do you find time to work and blog?


  3. Fantastic write! Thank you for sharing your wisdom. It sounds like you’re doing it right, and ::: knock wood :::, so far-so good for me too!
    You know, in some of these photos, it’s hard to tell who is the kid and who is the mom. LOL!


  4. Awesomeness squared.
    I am the mother of a daughter much like yours.
    We laugh. We sing. I am lax on getting her to make her bed (as she would rather read a book). I drive her to dance lessons and buy her softball shoes. I am there for her every step of the way. I don’t care if she likes to wear her daytime shirt to bed each day. I am not that concerned that she picks out clothes that match. I am not a scrapbooker, but a wanna be. However, I say that I might not have a decorated page tucked in a book. I lived it.
    Thanks for this beautiful tribute to your lovely daughter. I think you both rock.
    Enjoy the day!


    1. Erin-This is so wonderful to hear makes me want to laugh and sing with you guys! I still tuck my baby into bed every night. My gosh, it just doesn’t get any better. Thank you for sharing and living your page (love that!).


  5. It’s so awesome to see the beautiful relationship that you two share. It’s so plainly obvious in all of the photos, but it’s great to read the words too. It’s so honest and special… what every mother/daughter relationship should be. Cheers to you both on continuing to make it happen. And a super special Happy Birthday to Sydney.


    1. Foxy-Thank you foxy lady! I would wish for all moms to have that open relationship with their girls. It is so precious. Maybe ours is different because her Angel cousin Will directed her path to me. Whatever the case, she is a gift indeed.


    1. nothingprofound-I have to wonder if it has to do with personalties (aka inherit). Not only do they inherit a relaxed personality but then live in a relaxed enviroment which makes THEM super children. HA. I like schedules to a point but love being flexible!
      Great to know a kindred spirit!


  6. Awesome! I’ve learned to relax so much I’m surprised my ears don’t fall off. I’m the one who keeps breaking my rules, i keep throwing them out one after another. My 16 year old posted “I have a secret and know one knows(except my mother)” on her facebook. I knew the secret but didn’t know the other part. I was so honored I felt like crying:)


    1. Motpg-I would have cried to (for you!). That is so special. I know you have come a long, long way. You must be basking in the reward of it.

      P.S. Age has a lot to do with it, right???? lol.


    1. Kerry– I love this part “not some mirror of me and my needs”. That you are aware of that is amazing. I think so many of us mimic our mothers and how we were raised and how it was for us. We lose sight that today’s world is different. Being ahead of the times is key to THEIR success in today’s world. We have to stay hip and willing to embrace a different world and time that our kids will experience.
      Your honesty is refreshing. Keep being so great and she will turn out fine.


  7. You’re an inspiration, Ange! It gives me hope. We’re at 13…which is parentspeak for “Defcon 2″…but we will continue to just Be. πŸ™‚ I’d love to print this blog and happen to leave it lying around for other people to find.


  8. Have I ever said you are awesome, yes? Well let me say it again, you are awesome and so Sydney is awesome although of course she wants me to say it the other way round.
    Well whoever is awesome first, who cares as long as both of you are and you are.

    XOX Wilma


  9. I think it’s so important to try and soak up every moment and every day. That’s not easy to do, and I do it about 70% of the time. The rest, who knows.

    Of course if I just let my BOYZ do whatever they’d beat each other all day long.


  10. Love your perspective on raising a teenage girl! I have a 16 (almost 17) year old right now, and she’s hauntingly familiar. We dance like nobody’s watching, sing like noone can hear, and we do live to keep our inner child alive. I love a good romp in the sprinklers in the summer – and my teenagers do too!
    They even hug/kiss me good bye in front of their friends – how awesome is that!?!
    Stopping by from SITS – will be back, love your writing!


    1. Magimom-THAT is AWESOME!! I love this and how you live kickin’ it every day. I really do believe being spirited and just letting go helps them so much. I know my daughter is rarely embarrassed and happy to hang with me and my friends or I with hers (most times). I still tuck her in every night. She won’t go to bed until I do.

      Thank you so much for coming by and telling your story. Wonderful!


  11. Wow Sydney had the life I always yelled and screamed for.
    My dad was such a mean old man, do this and do that in this amount of time. Like he was running a business, instead of raising a family. I was rebellous and that was putting it nicely. Out of 5 kids he managed to raise one well adjusted kid. It wasn’t me!

    Congrats on being a great parent and Happy Birthday to Sydney!


    1. Heather-I’m not sure I can blame you! Where was the love? Maybe it’s all he knew? I was VERY much a rebel as well. It wasn’t my Dad but just an insecure life in general. I had to really change in order to not *mess* Sydney up because of what I knew. Luckily I got her away from a bossy stepdad that would (could have) done some damage. Scary!


  12. Happy 16th birthday Sydney! And congrats Angelia on having an awesome kid. You know from my blog that I’m that kind of parent too and I have pretty great kids as well. I love the drug punishment. None of mine (foster son excluded, but that was before I got hold of him) have ever wanted to touch them. But I’m thinking that’s a good threat to make it stay that way! Lol.

    Congrats to you both, for having each other!



    1. Spot-I really was thinking about you when I wrote this. I know it’s so true with you and your kids. You have fun and you show and do rather than preach a different story than how you live. I love my punishment it’s utterly terrifying and I can do it while she sleeps! HA.

      Thanks to you Spot!


  13. Happy Birthday Sydney,

    I really enjoyed this post Angelia, you have a daughter to be proud of I can see this clearly and a role model for a couple more right behind her.

    I can see what you mean by wishing you had enjoyed the baby years more rather than worrying about being a Mom, I guess we all do that but having fun with your child and creating memories is a blessing because they actually do grow up before you realize it.


  14. *Love* this — gives me so much hope!!! πŸ™‚ But, one thing… I just cannot do Spongebob. And without being all that dramatic about my dislike for that show, my 6-year-old will scream, “CHANGE IT! CHANGE IT!” if it comes on when we’re watching Nickelodeon. πŸ˜€ I think she’ll be fine. πŸ˜‰


  15. Angelia,
    What a sweet daughter you have raised. And – the pictures are so much fun – memories you two will treasure always!!

    Happy Birthday Sydney!!!! Sweet 16 for a sweet, sweet soul….


  16. blissbait

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY SYDNEY!!!! Here’s to a billion more amazing years of You gracing LIFE!!! πŸ˜†

    Angelia, this (as EVERYTHING You write) is SOOOO DEAR! I was laughing because we share many parenting paths. I remember when I took my son in for his one month check up. The doctor said, “He looks healthy and fine. You can take him out now.” My mother and I died! He’d already been to the museum, to the beach, to friend’s houses. πŸ˜† Also, I took my son EVERYWHERE as well. When he was six we went on a seven week long, unscheduled backpacking trip through England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. He’s amazing. We had some very hard times but Lord, we had GREAT times….and still are! Thanks for this and Cheers and Namaste. πŸ™‚


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