I’ve been around the block with this topic before, but I figured I’d give it another whirl.


How do you know when to tell your kids what to do?

How do you know when to guide them?

How do you know when to back off?

I think this is really the most difficult part of parenting: knowing the right way to parent your child at that particular moment.

I see parents who back off a lot, and it’s not always good.

I see parents who are constantly telling, and that’s not usually good.

How do you know the right balance of which parenting style to take?

Given that all kids are different and need to be parented differently

This is more a fact gathering mission: pick a type of child, and tell me the style of parenting that best fits.


Your child is 16. They are neither popular nor unpopular, they fly right under the radar. They get invited to a party with the popular kids, but as a parent you’re not sure if this is a good thing for your kid to go to. What would you do? What would influence your decision?


49 thoughts on “Guide?

    1. I just started to read a book titled “Don’t Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life” and one of the topics he tackles is parenting. He says that the most important single decision parents make is in which neighborhood(s) to live, since that exposes their children to adult role models of different kinds. For the rest, surprisingly, he actually advises to trust your gut and not worry too much 🙂 So I like JC’s advice!

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  1. Tell them you trust them and that you will do the right thing. This assures them that you believe in them and that you trust them to do the right thing. It lets them know that there are bad choices one can make but you trust he or she will do the right one.

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    1. I know. It’s a lot of hope involved in parenting. I used this example because I was with friends last weekend who all have daughters, and this was the biggest worry for the parents

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    2. At those pre-adult stages, pretty much all a parent can do is pray! I know this because my sister didn’t reach adulthood, IMO, till she was in her 50s!
      As for my own two daughters, my philosophy at those stages was to give them enough rope to hang themselves but that would allow me to come in and rescue them before they died! Tough love, maybe?
      They are now adults and seem to be making good choices, again, IMO.

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  2. It’s hard not to see only the “Type” and then parent according to that label. I had/have 3 very different types who have evolved over the years. They are still very different as adults. It didn’t matter who they were, all were given the same rules, same standards of conduct and expectations and all parented more by age level and what they showed me in their moral and ethical decisions and choices. I’m not saying there weren’t considerations based on personality and such, but there was an expected overarching standard in place. If that standard was followed then it didn’t really need to come down to type… if that all makes sense.
    As to your example- I’m stuck on the popularity thing and why that would even be a consideration for a parent? That speaks way too much to ego, status and privileged expectations to me. Parenting based on those criteria? Re-evaluate the entire family dynamic and what is being taught/perpetuated with that focus.

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    1. I was out on Saturday with a few parents of daughters (and one has sons) all the kids want to be “popular” and the parents said this whole term and all that goes with it stymied them as parents . I thought it would be an interesting example.

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      1. The parents don’t care about popularity, but the kids do. And has any parent been successful in telling their teenager that popularity in high school doesn’t matter?

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      2. The parents were concerned about their kid’s popularity? Really? I don’t think that ever came up with my boys. Well, maybe middle school awkwardness. But by 16, each child had a circle of friends. one had his thing with sports, the other through music and drama so they both had friends. And quite honestly both still have many of those same friends today. And keep in mind, my oldest is 49. My youngest will be 34 next month. Both still keep in touch with high school friends. Probably because they had similar interests. I’m still close with my theater friends from highshool and college.

        My grandchildren just started middle school. My grandson is in a math club and competes and my grand daughter is in debate and is a middle school cheerleader. I think it’s harder for girls as girls worry more about popularity. My sons didn’t. My grandson is clueless about popularity. He’s tall like his dad so he thinks irs cool that everyone thinks he’s older because he’s taller than everyone. But I can see girls seem more worried about popularity. My granddaughter is always the youngest because she’s a September 1st baby and not interested in teen things yet. But I see many of her gal pals are. I think girls have it much harder than boys these days. Just my opinion since I didn’t raise daughters.


      3. The parents weren’t concerned about popularity but the kids were. How do you successfully tell a tween or teen that popularity in high school doesn’t matter?

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  3. Even for the most caring, well meaning people, parenting is a crap shoot. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. But, by 16, most parents know their kids pretty well. If, as parents you stay informed, know your child and his interests, his friends etc. speak to them often, get to know them well, know the parents of their friends, teachers etc. Then I’d feel comfortable about my child and where he or she was going and the parties they attended etc. .

    Since I raised two boys I can speak about boys in a more informed way.. girls are still a mystery to me. I’m learning with my granddaughter. Lol

    Both my sons were straight A students so academics weren’t an issue. The oldest was a sports kid and on several team sports, editor of the school newspaper, on a traveling soccer team, a kicker on the football team, and was also on the tennis team. So through sports I got to know his friends and their families. Almost every game or function I met all his friends and their families. He was scholar athlete of the year in the entire county. I never worried about where he was because everything was based around his sports. He also was a published artist for several sports magazines while in high school.

    The youngest was almost 16 years his Junior. ( My sweet surprise!)He was musical, played instruments, was in a high school rock band, and his friends were all active in musical theater. My house was constantly filled with groups of boys and girls singing, playing instruments and trying to raise money for costumes and props for their high school drama dept. and various plays. The drama dept at his school won state theater awards and a group of us parents were actively involved in their fund raising. We actually were always invited to their parties. I know, crazy, but everyone sang and danced. All theatre people. We all went on state trips with the students since they performed and traveled and as parents we took turns going with them for state competitions. They won a lot of state awards. It was a tight knit group. Fun teens. Everyone supported and cheered them on.
    I honestly can say I never worried about who my sons hung out with because his friends were always at my house. I’d come home from work and my youngest son had girls cleaning up his room. He had groupies because he wrote music and played guitar and sang in a band. It was like Paul McCartney lived in my house. Lol seriously cute because when he’d walk on stage he’d get screams from a bunch of teenage girls. As adults my oldest is the executive director for a hall of fame football player and has a sports podcast etc. the youngest is a director in the film and tv industry so they both followed their dreams. I didn’t have girls to raise or worry about. I knew my sons friends and I opened my house to kids at all times. I was involved in their lives growing up. And I was lucky. I have friends who weren’t as fortunate. My sons were very different. But grew up to be caring men. There’s no one formula. Know your kid. I was involved in their lives growing up. Parenting isn’t easy. You hope for the best. I trusted them, supported their decisions and we always had discussions.

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      1. LA I agree it’s a crap shoot. I have two friends who have problem adult children they continue to support. These women are lovely educated ladies who each have a son who is unworthy of their mother. . One friend is quite wealthy and lives in NYC. She had numerous miscarriages before she adopted a child. He’s been trouble from his teens and he’s now in his 30s. She doesn’t deserve the heartache he gives her. The other has two biological grown children. She’s a widow who worked as a legal secretary to support her children. Her youngest has mooched off a her for decades. She is the essence of kindness but has heavy burden to carry. Neither of these women deserve the disrespect their children give them.
        One friend is from college who used to work in the film industry but retired to stay home with her son. My youngest son calls or texts her on Mother’s Day because Her own son doesn’t bother. I feel awful that her child is so uncaring. She feels fortunate that my son remembers her on special occasions.

        I also have a dear late friend who passed away three years ago. Her daughter and son chose to live with their father in high school when they split. (He bribed the kids with money and cars). Both kids woefully neglected her when she was sick with cancer. It broke my heart to see how she was mistreated.

        I don’t know why some children grow up better than others. I just know these three women are some of my closest friends. Each had at least one problem child. And they were really good moms. I don’t know it happens.

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  4. As a start, I think modelling is important. For example, if you believe it’s important that your child read, make sure they see you reading. That aside, with my daughter, I encouraged her to make choices for herself. Obviously, you start with small, age appropriate stuff and you build up over the years. My daughter grew up with the ability to think things through, to weigh up options, and to make decisions. I rarely needed to intervene. She’s independent and knows her own mind, but has never felt unable to reach out to me for advice or support.

    In brief: a mixture of leading by example, trust, respect, love, support and boundaries.

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  5. I feel like this is a good time to mention the intuition thing again, since it seems to be a favorite topic of mine and yours lately. I can see the benefits of developing our own intuition so that we’re better able to get a feel for what our kid needs. Generally speaking I think that because every kid has different needs everyone needs to be approached individually. With my daughter I find it best to never tell her what to do because that will always backfire on me. Instead I ask questions. Lots of questions. Ones that I don’t necessarily expect her to answer because I know that she’ll walk away and she’ll think about it whether she likes it or not🤣 Once I asked the question, she always comes back after she’s given it some thought and knows what to do.

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      1. It was much easier when they were younger. They cried so you fed them. Then the why questions…Why are there stars in the sky? why do bird fly? Why is my brother so tall? I could answer everything then. But, then it switched and it was me asking questions, why do you suppose fish have fins? Then it got harder and I had to explain what I couldn’t answer… “ I don’t know why there are bullies. They must not get enough love and attention at home. But I always was honest if I didn’t know the answers…like, why do you think some people mean to others. I remember both sons ( almost 16 years apart) answered the same way. “ I don’t know , mommy. I think it’s because nobody taught them to be kind.”
        Parenting is hard. Answering questions is hard. I’d take my oldest and we’d look up answers in an encyclopedia. We spent a lot Of time researching questions in libraries. I encouraged them to write questions down and we’d find library books to answer questions. When my grandchildren asked questions we could use my laptop to research. BUT, the key was to give them the responsibility of thinking for themselves and Seeing if their hypothesis ( guess) was correct. And then watching them discover they were right or learning why they were wrong. Do parents even do that anymore? I dunno. My oldest son does that with his kids because I did that with him. In fact he sings the same songs to his kids at night that I did. So it’s learned behavior. On the other hand I avoided things my mom did that I didn’t like. But my friends were good moms too. I still don’t know why some of their children are not particularly nice people.
        And Just like my doctor told me honestly when I asked him why I got ovarian cancer. He said “ I don’t know. I wish I did”The mutations didn’t appear in your genetic blood testing. But they did in your tumors. Science can identify who is likely to get certain diseases. But we still don’t know why sometimes healthy people who do everything right get sick. “
        So there ya go. Sometimes it’s an enigma.

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  6. I was there with my kids in high school. I was so used to my kids being content to go to swim practice and hang out with the kids I knew. It was hard when my son left that world to form a band with friends we didn’t know as well.

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  7. Having 3 adult children I find myself adapting to the fluctuating seasons they go through. Sometimes it’s based on age, other times on the choices they’re making. It seems to evolve and change. But I also take their personalities into consideration with how I parent, and their receptivity to me in general.

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  8. I’ve seen too many ’80s and ’90s teen comedies to erase any suspicion that they’re being invited to the party because somebody made or lost a bet or stands to embarrass them in some other way. Damn you, “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “10 Things I Hate About You.”

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  9. Social media has made parenting much harder than it used to be. I think it was harder for me as a parent than it was for my parents and much harder for my daughter with her teenage girls. They are good kids, but the pressure on all of them is so strong and in-your-face. There is little privacy.

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      1. Leslie, I agree with both the monitoring and the time limits. It makes the parent the bad guy, but I’d rather be the bad guy than have my kids suffer the consequences that none of us are prepared for. It really is a tough world. LA, I can’t imagine what parenting will be like for your daughter’s generation.

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