Teenagers — let them vent!

When my girls were small, their problems seemed smaller. A cuddle and a kiss solved most problems. But as they grow bigger, so does the complexity of their problems. I cannot just rush in like Batman anymore and make everything okay. 

One new development I have noticed as my kids getting older is the need to vent, and I am starting to understand that my advice is often not needed or even wanted! 

This is insanely difficult for a person like me who tries to resolve everything quickly. The idea of listening and not finding the key that will solve an issue drives me crazy, but it I guess it needs to be done. Older kids are capable of resolving their own problems and should probably be encouraged to do so in order to gain independence.  As a parent, I find this to be one of the hardest things I have had to do. To sit back and… not offer solutions, not be (possibly) overbearing, and to allow my kids to make mistakes. (Although they are very likely better at solving their own riddles than I would ever be.)

The other day my youngest was telling me some incredibly complicated story about teachers, homework and things being generally unfair. I started totally engaging with this story — hell-bent not only to figure out the root of the problem but also how best to solve it. My older daughter looked up from her book and said to me: “Mummy just let her vent. She does not want a solution, she just wants you to listen!” She was so right! 

So here is what I have tried to do when one of the girls arrives with a story. I ask from the start: “Just checking if you need to vent? I am more than happy to listen to you but just need to know, so I don’t start going off on a tangent.” Now I don’t always get it right, but I am trying to also evolve in this brave new world of growing children. Who knew that learning new things about parenting does not stop after you learned to potty train?



Comments (4)

Emilie in Berlin
August 8, 2018

Emilie – I love your conscious parenting observations here – I find this to be one of the greatest parenting tools. Disciplining oneself to ‘just’ listen. Adults and children alike need to be, and feel, heard.

I have two boys 7 & 9 who are open about their worlds and their feelings – and I am conscious that if I want them to remain open and communicative through their teenage years, and for them to trust me with the big stuff, then I need to listen to the little stuff now.

On my parenting journey with two boys one of the greatest supports I can give them after a brotherly ‘fight’ is to let them vent (privately, with me away from their sibling) – even when I do not agree with them – just to listen – and so by allowing them to release feelings of anger and frustration, that release then often allows them to reflect and analyse, and voice other outcome possibilities if one of them had made a better decision in any one moment.

When we allow them to be, they can often show more maturity than we give them credit for – and suddenly a situation where I would have criticised them them for bad behaviour and fighting becomes an opportunity to praise them for mature thinking, problem solving and/or conflict resolution.


August 15, 2018

I don’t have kids, but thank you for your comment, Emilie (in Berlin). This is very good advice.

August 16, 2018

This is so true! It’s extremely hard to just let them talk and to just listen but often it’s the best way. After listening I then ask them a question like ‘what will make you feel better?’ or ‘how do you think you can solve x, y or z?’ and 9 times out of 10 they know exactly what they need and what they need to do…

August 17, 2018

I know what you mean! Thinking about it – the same applies to grown ups too!

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