Teenage Kicks – not just a really cool punk song
As a mum of teenagers I get asked lots of questions from parents of younger children. And the one emotion that comes through is always the same – FEAR. Have you ever tried to find parenting advice on the internet for the teenage years? Google it. It’s not very pretty. And yet teenagers can be the most amazing people. My own are frustrating as hell, obviously, but they’re also incredibly good company, very funny, and have a fantastic outlook on the world. Yes, their fervour for a good cause comes laced with naivety, but I am SO optimistic for our futures when I talk to them and their friends. I don’t want people to fear all that! So I started a podcast.
Teenage Kicks the podcast – everything you need to know about parenting a teenager
Back in 2011 I started this blog to talk about the funny little anecdotes of parenting a toddler and a schoolgirl. Lots of people joined in, sharing their own humorous take on the sometimes stressful days involved in raising a child, and Mummy Blogging became a thing. We read each other’s blogs, shared them, and left comments. It was a community of parents, all saying “Yes! Me Too!” and “If you think that’s bad, you should see what mine did!” It was glorious! It was such a big thing, I made a linky out of it – if you’re not a blogger you won’t know what that is, but picture a load of people leaving their own funny parenting stories underneath yours, so you could all share the love. It was like a virtual playgroup, where you got on with everyone, including that mum who let her kid take biscuits off the other children, because we were all in it together.
Why does the parenting advice dry up when they’re teenagers?
Then suddenly it all stopped. I racked my brains for about 4 years trying to conjure up funny, cute anecdotes about my older kids, like a jilted lover desperate to find a reason why her ex should stay with her. But it was no good. They weren’t funny, and what’s more, they didn’t want me to write about them. I had to ask permission, and most of what I proffered got vetoed. Why? Because they could now read my blog – and SO COULD THEIR FRIENDS!
No one talks online about their teenagers
It wasn’t just me. A lot of the parent bloggers I engaged with also stopped writing so much. Some blogs just stopped (and here I shed actual tears); others rebirthed into Homes and Interiors, or Fashion. And I still read them; I still love their authors, they’re great crack on Twitter. But I missed the stories. I needed the anecdotes. Because if I couldn’t read about how another parent was dealing with the wailing hysteria of age 12, how on earth would I ever cope.
Cope I did, and still am, but I couldn’t help feeling that there must be swathes of parents picking real torn-out locks of hair from glasses of Sauvignon as they scoured the internet every evening looking for advice that wasn’t there. Seriously, Google teenage parenting and all you get is gloom. Phone addiction, social media grooming, cyberbullying and County Lines. It’s all bad news. And the answers come from police websites, BSc experts in psychology and drug addiction, or – and praise be for these guys – charities who support families in crisis, or who speak to teenagers themselves. There’s literally nothing anecdotal from parents, nothing to say “Ooh yes! That’s totally me – what did you do?!”
I wanted to do something, but I – like every other parent – didn’t want to splash my children’s personal issues all over the internet. Imagine the friendship issues that would arise from that! Not to mention the charred remains of my own relationship with my kids. No. So – anonymous guest contributions? That’s one avenue, and it’s being brilliantly explored by Jo from Slummy Single Mummy. Her post about why having kids hadn’t been worth it was a totally addictive read, but no, that wasn’t what I wanted to do.
I wanted stories from teenagers who’d been through something difficult, and could give advice to others dealing with similar. I thought about rounding up a group of my daughter’s friends and decided it would get too messy – besides, I couldn’t face the legal red tape of publishing what minors had told me. I thought about asking their parents – see my first point. No.
The Teenage Kicks podcast
And then I found survivors. Actual people who went through hard things as teenagers – but here’s the good thing! They’re now older, legally allowed to tell their stories, and have the benefit of hindsight to help them give ideas of things that might help.
And so I made a podcast. I went out and talked to all these massively inspirational individuals about what happened to them, and recorded everything so you could hear. I’m calling it the Teenage Kicks podcast, where we talk about real life issues teenagers are facing today, and how these people dealt with them. There’s a massive focus on teenage mental health, as you’d imagine, so in every single episode, no matter what the story, we chat about strategies to help with things like confidence, resilience, and self-esteem in the face of difficult experiences. I absolutely loved all of these chats, and I really hope you will too.
In my first episode Siân tells us about why she was expelled from school, and what she did afterwards to make sure she still landed her dream job. Next I talk to Rosie, who never fit in at school, and eventually began self-harming as a way to cope. And then Becky told me about how her dad was sent to prison while she was doing her A-levels. Kids have so much on their plates as teenagers. They – and we – need to hear about how other teeangers have coped with similar things, to gain some perspective, tips on how to cope, and reassurance that things can still turn out absolutely fine!
Where to listen
I’d love it so much if you’d have a listen. The trailer and first episode are live right now, and there will be new episodes every Monday evening. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss one, and if you like it, I’d love it if you’d rate and review the podcast on iTunes too – it would really help other people to find it. You can also find more from me on parenting teenagers on Instagram and Twitter @iamhelenwills. If you don’t have a podcast app (erm get one – podcasts are brilliant!) you can also listen here.
Ohhh and comment please! I’d love, love, love to know what you think. And if you have any suggestions for future episodes contact me here. There’s an exam nerves special coming up as a bonus episode before the Easter break so watch out for that too.
Thank you. Helen x
Join me in the Teenage Kicks Facebook group!
If you’re a parent of teens it can be difficult to know where to go for advice, to vent, or just to talk. So I’ve made the Teenage Kicks Facebook group, for all parents of teenagers to chat in a safe space. You can request to join by clicking the button below. It’s a private group and everyone in there will be a parent of teenagers.
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Trigger warning: this episode deals with sexual assault