Brevity Is The Key When You’re Parenting A Teen In The Information Age


teenphoneFrom the moment my daughter was born, I was ready. Ready to impart all the life-lessons I’ve learned, ready to be a steady shoulder with a valuable and entertaining anecdote or parable that will solve any of her life dilemmas. In me, she would find an ever-bubbling font of wisdom at the ready, and she would drink deeply, shouting my name to the world as the wisest mother of all mothers.

Yeah, right.

She’s fourteen, so most of the time when I start to share, I get an eyeroll. Or a “Mom. Stop.” Or I’ll finish my anecdote and say “You see, honey? That’s what I’m getting at here…” and she’ll look up from her phone with a puzzled expression and say “Huh? Were you talking to me?”

So I’ve learned to sling the advice not with a shovel or a garden trowel, but in drips and splashes, hoping something will splatter and stick.

“Look at this line,” I’ll say as she’s getting ready for school. “Wish I’d moisturized more at your age.” She’ll reach for the lotion before she reaches for her makeup.

She had a boyfriend for three weeks once that she never really saw in school and they never once so much as held hands. The entire relationship was text messages. This, apparently, is common now. I wanted to tell her that a relationship where you’re not ever in each other’s company and have no plan to work toward that goal isn’t the greatest foundation, but settled instead for, “How do you know you’re the only one he’s texting as a girlfriend?” I left that as a seed to germinate. It was the best I could do.

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Ellie is a parenting and relationship blogger, a full-time working autism Mom, published author, and frequently exhausted person. In addition to her blog, SingleMomtism, she is the author of “Yoga Pants & Pinot: A Practical Guide to Surviving Divorce” and “David And Me Under The Sea: Essays From A Decade With Autism.” She has previously blogged for Most days you can find Ellie slogging her way through the world of single parenting, mid-life dating and reinventing herself with a pop-tart in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.


  1. Wow. Never thought of it that way.
    I am involved in Boy Scouts, where we allow the kids to make mistakes (within reason) to help them learn. We make them come to the adults to ask for help when they need it. It is VERY difficult to turn off the “mom chip” and turn on the “mentor chip”.

    I also occasionally hug my 14 yr old daughter, while she stands there stiff armed and rolling her eyes, and tell her she’s my “favorite daughter” and “I love you”. Her response is, “Mom, I’m your ONLY daughter.” Then we laugh. The message gets through though.

    I follow her Instagram account where occasionally, after something fun we do together, her friends will tell her how “cool” I am as a Mom. Following their Tumblr and Instagram is necessary to learn what she’s up to without interrogating her. I occasionally interject a “mouth” comment when I see too much cursing, just to remind them that they are watched, not just by me. It’s effective and brief.
    Thanks for this great article!


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