What’s important when you’re in the tough moments of parenting

Written by Desiree Townsend

My husband and I are having a tough time with our kids, lately. They are hurting each other and us, emotionally. I get it — I get what they’re doing here — because I was a teenager at one time. In the oft told story of me and my siblings growing up, we made up a parody of a popular song and sang it at the expense of one of my brothers. We used to chase each other around the backyard while yelling obscenities.

We were mean to each other. Downright mean. And we didn’t care how doing or saying hurtful things affected each other or our parents. If you’re observing this kind of behavior in your teens (or tweens), I’d like to talk with you about what’s important when you’re in these tough moments of parenting.

You need to take some time to cool off. He’s yelling at you and being disrespectful because you’re yelling at him.

Our oldest son, who will be 14-years-old at the end of this month, has recently been pushing back a lot. He’s even lied a few times about stuff I consider to be pretty big. I wanted to get straight to asking him why he’s been acting out — I was very angry and my husband knew a conversation at that time would not have started or ended well. I agreed that, as long as he was not in any imminent danger, I could wait to talk to him. I needed time to think through what I wanted to say and prepare myself in how I was going to get that message across without yelling at the top of my lungs!


Let them know they can come to you with absolutely anything that’s on their mind or any situation they encounter.  

We try very hard to keep communication open with our kids and each other. We want them to know that we will try hard to LISTEN and not always look for “teaching moments.” This is a challenge for me, because I want to fix everything for them. I drive them nuts, saying, “Did you think about this? Did you think about that?” or sharing stories from yesteryear to prove that I know how they’re feeling. Instead, I need to just practice actively listening and empathizing. Dr. Laura Markham has a great article on how to be a brilliant listener with your child.

Trust yourself.

Learning to trust yourself in these moments will help carry you through. I am grateful to have a partner in my husband. If our kids are stressing me out to the max, I can “tag team” him in. (Dad’s turn!) It works for him tagging me in, too. Regardless of who is handling the situation at the time, we employ the same thought process as Naomi Drew offers on her website,

Set the expectation for a fight-free home and stick with it. You are the most powerful role model your children have and your words make a difference. Make it clear that hurting each other is absolutely unacceptable under any circumstance, and you expect your children to honor this.

Is there anything you’ve been struggling with, lately? Tell me about that in the comments. We can do this! We will do this together!

About the author

Desiree Townsend

Desiree is a thirty-something Christian wife and mom living in the suburbs of Boulder, Colorado. Her passion is inspiring families with teens to build strong family ties. She and her husband founded Bold and Brave Today, a health and wellness site where their real-life bariatric stories guide families with teens to celebrate meal time, enjoy a bold and brave lifestyle, and build strong families.

Desiree believes in: being kind, working hard, developing stable values, staying down-to-earth, and being accessible. Her voice is friendly, humble, honest and (mostly) practical. She strives to create real connections and friendships with her audience and she is sincerely interested in hearing from you.

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  • This is exactly what I needed to read today! I’m having a real difficult time with my 14yo (soon to be 15yo) daughter. She’s an average teen, not out only control, yet not an angel. My problem is that I take every criticism, dig, snide remark personally. Logically I know it’s my daughter pushing her limits. My heart, though, hurts. I feel like I’m blind sided when the comments begin. We will be laughing, singing in the car, being silly and then BAM…the atmosphere changes quicker than a blink of the eye. I can get on board with not fighting. I’ve been very successful with walking away to avoid tempers flaring. Any advice for the heart wrenching words that teens throw out?

    • Hi Connie! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my article! I’ve been thinking of the “right” response over the past couple of days, even went so far as attempting to defer to my husband. He was less than helpful in coming up with a response to how to get past the hurtful words that come from our teens’ mouths.

      I think, in part, this is so hard to overcome the logic of the limit-pushing because we are HUMAN. Words sting, even when we know our teens will probably look back at a later date and wish they had treated us differently. I was in my early- to mid-twenties before I realized what a piece of poop I had been to my mom, especially.

      When my kids were younger, I would say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” At first, it was difficult to say and MEAN it. I wanted to cry…run away…mentally, it was exhausting. Another phrase I would use: “I love you too much to argue.” Oh, man, my son HATED that one! More recently, I’ve employed: “Asked. Answered.” This response is when they say something like, “Can I go to the Bry’s house?” I say no, and then I get “Why?” or “That’s not fair!” or “I did my chores and this is what I get?” Yep. “Asked. Answered.” And then walk away.

      Teens suck. At least mine do, from time to time. SERIOUSLY! My husband and I jokingly ask each other sometimes, “Why did we have kids?” We don’t mean it the way it sounds, but the frustration is real! You are doing the best you can. Keep up the good work, Connie. 🙂