When it comes to living with teens, the first thing a parent needs to do is reflect upon his or hers own teen years. That is a great advice regarding any age your kids are, but it is essential when they are teens. You are going to need all the compassion and understanding you posses in order to support your kids and yourself through these amazing and often difficult years. I often recalled instances and feelings from my time as a teen and shared it with my kids. Be honest and open with teenagers, especially if you expect it in return.
There is a fine line a parent needs to walk during these years. It requires listening more than talking, and to realize that you now have the opportunity and often need to stretch your own and your teen’s comfort zone.
Sometimes, during times of intense internal change – as teen years are – we only want to hide and refrain from adding anything new to the turmoil. It is important to remember, though, that teens usually need challenges more than comfort. This is a time when they really want to find out what they are about. They are also extremely idealistic and full of energy, all qualities that are best expressed and explored in society and among people, which would mean you will sometime need to nudge him or her to do something new he or she is afraid or unsure about doing. Keep listening and asking questions to know what is really going on.
Remember, though, that no matter how good a listener and supporter you are you will always get and do something wrong, so don’t be overly attached to being right or perfect, it will not happen. This is a good time to learn humility. As unschooling parents we know that our children learn from anything we do whether they judge it as something to do or as something not to do, so take comfort in that.
Many unschooled teenagers will look to get involved in more intense social situations during these years, whether by pursuing their interests with others, by getting more involved with their homeschooling group or by experimenting with school or community college. These experiences become a valuable part of the unschooling process during these years.