Best of Both Worlds podcast: Parenting teens and tweens

Best of Both World podcast with Laura Vanderkam

Sarah and I have both had babies since launching Best of Both Worlds three-and-a-half years ago. Many listeners/readers find us during those hard early years of trying to figure out how to build a career and a family at the same time. So we cover little kid issues a lot!

But both of us are entering the older kid years. My oldest three kids are 13, 11, and 9, and so, as we discuss in this episode, I’ve been trying to figure out how to enjoy the teen/tween years and support my kids as they figure out their place in the world. I am pretty far from a helicopter parent (I’m actually not type A in much of anything…I just sometimes play one professionally). My current philosophy is to spend one-on-one time with the older kids whenever I can, and keep the lines of communication open. I try to help them figure out ways to solve their problems. (And there have been problems! Grades, virtual school attendance…I won’t go into specifics because my kids are their own people, but I don’t want anyone to think all is perfect or that my family has everything figured out.)

All this has been shaped by the pandemic. I’ve definitely enjoyed getting to eat lunch with my older kids most days. On the other hand, there has been a lot of screen time. It’s quite possible my children have watched all of Netflix. In this episode, we talk some about screen time/device rules and freedoms, and how that is evolving. Chores, allowances, keeping kids interested in the future…there’s a lot in here. So please give the episode a listen and I welcome advice from parents of older children!

6 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Parenting teens and tweens

  1. Thanks for tackling teens and tweens! I know it is harder to talk about this group of kids for all the reasons you all mentioned. I also love hearing about how families handle chores and allowance. There are so many interesting takes on this out in the world. As mentioned there isn’t a ton out there about parenting teens. One book I have found helpful is Teach Your Children Well but Madeline Levine. The book tackles school-aged kids from 5-18 but with discrete sections for each group and practical advice that I turn to again and again.

  2. Thanks for this episode! I haven’t had a chance to listen to the whole episode yet, but I have been anxiously waiting for it. My older three boys are 14, 12, and 11. While 11 years ago was definitely harder, I feel like I have a lot less of an idea how to parent these ages-friend drama, girl drama, hygiene reminders, braces, school, screen time, unrealistic future plans (professional athlete??), etc. They are great kids and I love doing life with them, but there are a lot of hormones at our house right now, and I don’t know what I am doing, lol.

    1. Jessica, I have a 12-year-old boy who isn’t that motivated at school because he is going to be a pro athlete. This despite the fact that he is not even the best player on his little local team. I so relate to your comment! I don’t want to crush his dreams but I also want him to learn math etc.

  3. My boys are 18 and 16… I have to say I did not read any parenting books when they were small but when they hit tween years I knew I needed help! Here are some books/authors that have been helpful to me. Some do have a Christian bent but take what you can use and leave the rest! Dr. Keven Leman has a ton of super helpful parenting books for middle school and teen years. Cynthia Tobias has “Middle School: The Inside Story.” This book I love, love: Why I didn’t rebel by Rebecca Gregoire Lindennbach. That is a sampling. : )

    These authors have a younger kid and teen book: Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. Then Parenting Teens with Love and Logic.

    I think one of our best decisions was we gave each kid money for all their clothes (not winter coats, church clothes), shoes, some activities, eventually we added hair cuts, portion of cell phone… We gave them a stash of cash at the start of each year and we have given them less and less each year. Helps with the desire to get a job! One child spent a lot of his on clothing, one child has a lot left and spent some on other things – but that is how life is in the real world! And we did not have to argue about a $40 pair of shorts that one child wanted! He could decide how he wanted to spend his clothing money. From this vantage point it has been very instructive for them.

    Hope those tips are helpful to someone – both of your blogs and podcasts have been very encouraging for me! Thank you Laura and Sarah!

  4. I was a little surprised to hear how little the children have to help and occasionally even get paid for it. Would this be different if you didn’t have help around the house from outside?

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