Updated: Nov 20, 2021
Conversations with experts brought to you by adolescent psychologist and parenting teenagers expert Angela Karanja
Today what an honour to have another beautiful conversation with careers adviser and life coach Mayira Thomas about Embracing The Uniqueness Of Your Teen. Encouraging and empowering teens to develop their strengths and coaching them to tap into the resources they naturally have within.
Please grab a cup of tea, coffee, water or your favourite drink and hang out with us as we discuss this profound topic.
This is one of my beliefs, when we encourage and empower our teens to develop their strengths and tap into the resources they naturally have within, we support them advance forward positively.
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Embracing & Empowering The Uniqueness Of Your Teen
Angela Karanja (00:06):
Hello, and welcome to this episode of Raising Remarkable Teenagers. I am so excited today, and I'm going to tell you why I'm excited and I suppose you can already tell I've got a beautiful, beautiful guest with me here. And as always in these series, this program is for parents who want to raise highly effective teenagers. And this is for you If you want to have a fulfilling parenting, if you want to reach your parenting goals. And if you want to have that enriched relationship with your kids, especially your teenagers. And as always, we bring in lovely, lovely content with very highly informed people and experts who can advise us and actually have conversation with us. They can give us strategies, snippets, to help us raise really highly effective teenagers. And today my guest is the very lovely Mayira. She is a life coach. You all know I get excited talking about parenting and educating our young people, because I know if we get it right, we've got some bright future. We've got some beautiful and bright future. And isn’t that what every parent wants? all of us, all of us, each one of us, even when we don't talk about it, what we want is to raise highly effective teenagers.
Mayira Thomas (02:00):
Thank you, Angie. Thanks very much for the opportunity here. So, in brief kind of information, I am Mayira Thomas, and I am an educator. So, for the past 20 years, I've been working within education as a teacher, mentor for college and university students and also a careers advisor. And I'm currently doing life coaching as well, particularly for adults. So, it's across the band that I have seen a lot of commonalities, whether I've been with three-year olds or 18, 19-year olds, the essence is the same. There's a need for acknowledgement of who you are. That's really why I want to spread this message so much more because I work with teenagers a lot. And what I see is, you know, I'm in a privileged position because I see them one-to-one and you know, I'm not their teacher and I'm not their parent. It’s a privilege. And they inspire me day in, day out because fundamentally it's about conversation. And I say, it's conversation with them, not to them or at them.
Angela Karanja (03:37):
I like what you say about conversation with them because it's a relationship with another person. No one likes to be talked to. No one likes to be talked at, people like to feel valued. And that's what I feel is they actually want to feel valued and that it's up to us. If we've been doing it in a way where we speak to them, we need to change that game. We need to change to talking and speaking with. So, it's an engagement in actually I think the teenage years from my experience, and also from what you're saying we get to a point where we are at par. And I think it's important for us to start seeing them actually on a human to human basis.
Mayira Thomas (04:40):
Oh, definitely. Always. Yeah. Even little ones, even, it doesn't matter who you are. I still think you could, you just treat them as another human being. That's how I see every person I'm in front of. I just see them as a being because you come with your own story. I was a teenager, but I was also first generation British Asian. And I fought with my identity in the middle of even being a teenager. So, I can relate as well to that where they're still figuring out who they are. So, you know, if they're in a bad mood or if they're, they're just not responding, it's not personal. It's actually what's going on within them, but they might not express it themselves. They find it difficult expressing.
It is Important to embrace & empower the uniqueness of your teenager.
Angela Karanja (05:42):
Absolutely. And it's a good thing that you mentioned about that battling with identity, because that’s what happens in the brain there is actually an identity crisis. See they are no longer little kids, things being done for them you know, there’s lot being asked of them, but then they are jumping into this age range where there's a lot of responsibility expected of them. And they are almost mourning and missing being a child. And remember, they're not adults yet. So, they're in that age where, what am I? And that's why sometimes they want to behave like adults. And on the other hand, they behave like kids because they're still in that. And it's very important for us to be supportive of that. It's a very fragile time in their life. Isn't it? You know that having worked with teens.
Mayira Thomas (06:54):
Actually, I often say when I am speaking to parents, particularly if, or carers, if let's say they say to you is I just want to spend more time. Can you come and watch a movie with me, mom, dad, whatever? And the parents are like, Oh, I haven't got time or whatever. It's what they're actually asking for is your time. It's not necessarily that movie. So, I often will say, it's actually, what's not being said is really important. The silent words, that’s actually that's where the clues are. It doesn't mean you're a bad parent. No, no, that's not what this is about. This is about listening to what's underneath those specific words because you know, teenagers like to feel cool. And I like now, yeah, I don't want to be asking all this, so they might ask it in another way and you just need to read between the lines.
Angela Karanja (07:55):
So, so what I'm hearing you say, and it's something that I talk about a lot is that connection and listening, listening to what is being said, as well as what's not being said, you know, you're, you're leaning in, you're in tune. Yeah. And it's when you get in tune. And what I find interesting is teenagers are known to not want to be with their parents. They pretend they don't want to, but actually research is showing us more than ever in teenage years, they need that connection with parents. They need that love with parents. They maybe be thinking, I don't want to be hanging around with these old people. You know, they think when you are 30, 40 years you are old but we need to find those opportunities to connect, connect. And in fact, what I say to parents, because the teenagers don't ask us to do things with them much. I tell you what, when they ask you to stay with them or hang out with them, milk back moment for all it is worth, because it might not be coming soon. Yeah. So, I'm excited.
Mayira Thomas (09:25):
And they will say to me, sometimes it's not the presents it's not the gifts they want. It's not the things they want from them. It's the connection, like you said. But also, that time they're always like, I just want the time I wanted to talk to them sometimes. But I also think it's about, yeah, not the correction of them all the time. It is that connection. And also, if they make mistakes, it's the parents just to say, I'm here to hold, you guide you through something because we're all human, we're all going to make mistakes. So, it's not saying to them, Oh, what a, what a stupid thing you've done there. No, it's just saying, how can we make that better for next time?
You know, and again, I find that it it's about that checking in, in yourself, that observation within yourself before you react.
It is Important to embrace your teenager's uniqueness.
Angela Karanja (11:07):
So absolutely. It's a very, it's a very, very self-reflective opportunity that the other day I wrote something in, in the lines of difference. You know, sometimes as parents, we tend to label difference as difficult. They are different, how they do things. They've got different getting up times, they've got different ways of dressing, we quickly label this as difficult, but we need to ask ourselves, you know, we need to take a moment to ask ourselves
“before I label his is difficult, is it truly difficult or is it my perception of it? And my accepting difference, you know, it's okay to be different. And actually, it's in those differences that we can learn a lot about each other.
Mayira Thomas (12:18):
Yeah, exactly. So that difficulty comes because as well, this is what much is with the system, the education system.
Angela Karanja (12:29):
I'll ask you that because I know you worked in education for a long time and I love to just speak with experts, like you because you can actually give us, you're able to give us some insights. Right. And you're able to give parents. Yeah.
Mayira Thomas (12:50):
So really what, I believe is, what you've just said there about yeah. If it's different, but you know, if they're different it's Oh my gosh. Why are they different? It's so tough because in schools, I mean, this is very general, okay. They have to get through a curriculum. They have to do it a particular way. You know, even in, even when we were at school, you conform to the teacher because they have to get through certain things. You're adapting to that person who is your, you know, the head of that, that classroom. And when you don't do things according to what needs to be done, they get frustrated. Sometimes they're not going to get that because they don't think like that. You know, it's like that saying if you teach a fish to climb the tree, it's going to think it's stupid all its life, because there isn't creativity, and this is stifling their growth. So, there’s battling with that in school and at home, they're different again. And what I'm seeing is the aftermath of this in adults when I'm life coaching, a lot of this leads to lack of confidence, that overwhelming of where I go next. Often, it's because of this, that youth hasn't been dealt, or they haven't done the healing they need to and all that kind of thing.
Angela Karanja (14:34):
Absolutely. And so, in that case, for example, this is happening in school a lot. And I have personally seen it because I have been a maths mentor. And what I, and what I have seen is that you get teachers who think this is the only way to do something. And I have had to have some, some argument to then say, what do we want? What we want is that the child gets the right answer. How they get it, let them show us which method they understand. It doesn't have to be just the one. Totally. And I remember introducing that to a school. And the kids started to try, the problem was the teacher before had just said to them, this is the method that I'm looking for.
You have to be patient with them, ask them to do it then ask them to show how they’ve done it. Right. Show me how you've done it, how you've done it. That's your creativity, that's your route. And it's okay. And I think that's what we need to embrace in, in the society. And it's very difficult, especially for parents, because you don't know what to support because you, sometimes you're thinking maybe your kid is just being difficult. They don't want to follow the rules and everything. But we can have these conversations with them, even have these conversations with the teachers. Yeah. After all our teachers are human beings, right. You can have that conversation and say to them, what about you allow them to show you how they are able to do this. As long as they're making progress, that's what we should be looking for and not forcing them to, to fit into a particular, you know, into a box and saying that what do you take? What do you think in terms of that? Being forced to fit into a particular box impacts on mental health and mental wellness?
There are disadvantages when we don't empower the uniqueness of our teens.
Mayira Thomas (17:03):
Yeah. So, what I see is indecision indecisions, a big time. They don't know how to make decisions often because they're just not with it. They're not confused. Then they're too confused. Or they're just like, like under confident. A lot of them, or those who are extremely bright on the other end of it, they're like, they're nervous. I need reassurance. Am I actually doing the right thing? But what I see as well is the brilliance of some students, but they're so like, I'm not really good academically. They're not, you know, according to this linear scale we have. There was one student and I'll never forget him. He was amazing. Like he knew boats inside out. And I was like, I just sat back. I put the pen, everything down. I was like, come on, tell me more. How would you fix this? Or how are you getting this boat at a faster speed?
Mayira Thomas (18:04):
He won a competition for Honda or something. But he was so not good in class. He didn't, this is what happens because he's academically not showing the marks. He was like, I'm not, I'm not good enough. I'm not good. And I was like, you know, he could probably go into the Greek islands and work on the yachts out that because he knew that was where his skill was. That was where the talent is. So schools need to be more, do they need to change. If I had my school, I would say, I want time in nature, horticulture you know, facilitating classes rather than teaching them, kid partnership entrepreneurship. I want that in the curriculum because people are so unique in their skills and finding out more about who we are, is through learning and doing
Angela Karanja (19:02):
That reminds me about the course I teach young people called becoming an extra ordinary young person. What you just mentioned there was about teaching. One of the things I teach them is who they truly are. Almost always when they come out of that class, they're like, I did not know how intelligent I was. This is because I show them what intelligence means in intelligence. And I give them example, I give them example or people in the world. I give them example athletes. I give them examples of footballers as I give them examples of craftsmen.
And then I give an example of scientists of doctors and guess who they always choose?
Oh, we think this person's who's intelligent. But then when I showed them what, and sit and speak with them about exactly what intelligence means and what, and how each one of us has intelligence and has a purpose, no one else can fill that space that you came to this world to fill that you just see them go, Oh my God, these kids undergo some wow moments!. It's like some sort of reincarnation, like kids are coming back to life.
Mayira Thomas (20:30):
It's lovely to see.
Angela Karanja (20:33):
So amazing. It's so amazing to see a kid, like the one you spoke about, they know both inside out there was that kid. I was speaking to not very good at any of the subjects in school at all, but boy, that kid could put together electric wires and you're think he is likely to be a top engineer. But think about the school system sometime how it can hinder some of these, some of some of these talents, because they think you're not intelligent. I'll tell you a quick story about my, I know this is your session but I'll tell you a quick story. About one of my lecturers in university. He was a top dance lecturer. He is a top dancer. He has danced all over the world. He has performed all over the world. But can I tell you the most, almost laughable thing was that only three years ago, did he pass his GCSE maths and that’s after redoing it again and again and again, so tell me is my lecturer is my lecture bright intelligent or not? What do you say, is he intelligent or not?
Mayira Thomas (22:23):
Of course, he is
It is Important to embrace our teenagers' uniqueness.
Angela Karanja (22:26):
Person may not be good at maths, which it was GCSE maths. In fact, he said, he scraped through. He even said, he thought they felt sorry for him because they probably looked at how many times, he's done it and just let's give him this. So, we need to be careful about what we label as intelligent as well. Yeah.
Mayira Thomas (22:54):
Yeah. And I think as well, I think life success of life is it needs to be talked about more, what is success? Because you know, the resilience that lecture definition of resilience. And I think through the attends particularly Eleven's yeah, the attendance I call them here. Yeah. The ones who missed out the chunk of that, you know, because of COVID I will speak to them now and I'll say, look, you you've adopted, you are resilient. You all are coming through this, think about the skills there that you've developed. They've never, most of them haven't looked at it like that. All skills come in, all sorts of different formats and we'll continue to do that. So, as we grow older, but I, I, I would instil, so here's another example of, of what they think should be done. There's this lovely girl. She came to see me, her parents said, can you see, can you see her for me? She's going to drop out of our eight levels. We don't want her to do that. So, there's a couple of years ago. And she said, I sat down, and we have this conversation. And I asked her about her learning styles and everything else. And anyway, she decided she wants to go to college rather than the school and do a one year in business.
Mayira Thomas (24:21):
And her parents went to the open evening and I said, it's up to you. This is just a suggestion from what you've told me, maybe you could do this, try it go for the open evening she did. And a year later I, I asked how she is going. And she said, it was the best decision she made. She's the happiest ever her parents are delighted because they can see her thriving rather than just being really unhappy and miserable that she was in year 12. And she said to me, actually, most of my friends who finished, they just don't know what they're doing because we're in that fear. We're not going to follow the norm. What is the norm? You know, I've written a poem all about normality.
Angela Karanja (25:06):
Do you need to share that with viewers and, or just maybe just share it down the bottom. Would you like me to, we love that?
Mayira Thomas (25:22):
I do. And I, I, my, I will, I've, I've written it from my heart because I know what it was like, you know, when you're trying to be someone for society for the sake or for other than for yourself. And I, I feel so much happier because I'm on that journey myself and I'm loving life. And that's what I put to, to my students, you know, love yourself first. That's why we need to begin. And you know, so yeah, so he is,
Angela Karanja (25:54):
It's all you read the, you read the point, would you recommend the same to parents? Like love yourself so that you're back to the [inaudible].
Mayira Thomas (26:10):
Yes, because children and all of us, I think we learn through example. You cannot sit there and say to anyone, do this, do that. How many of us are going to listen, really speaking? So, if I wanted to get more fit, the more people have told me that the less I'm going to do it until I'm really ready. So, when the parents show exactly that example of taking care of themselves first, so their cup is not just full, but overflowing that radiates out to the child.
Angela Karanja (26:46):
Wow. That is, that is what in psychology we call modelling.
Mayira Thomas (26:51):
Yes, I totally, yes. I love that. And you know, and if a child is upset, does mother get down to that kind of level with them, join them in that before you bring them back up, instead of like, you know, if you say, Oh, it's fine. Just deal with it, toughen up. It's okay. You know, get on with it. Yes. Not then acknowledge that first. Like you said, modelling, get down to that and you know, much.
Angela Karanja (27:23):
Absolutely. Absolutely. What I hear you saying is with your child or your teenager comes with a problem, don't just ask them to get on with it. Be compassionate.
Mayira Thomas (27:37):
Angela Karanja (27:38):
Empathy, compassion. You can come up together. That, that way you can, you can help them gain the strength to come back.
Mayira Thomas (27:49):
Definitely. That's what coaching is about. You see? Cause I, I'm not, I'm not a counsellor and counselling have its place, but the coaching it's about tapping into the resources we have naturally within us and moving ourselves forward in a positive way. Absolutely. So that's when we, we grow a little bit at a time within our competence and our self-esteem, that's two different, it's different confidence on the esteem, the belief that we have about them.
Angela Karanja (28:19):
I still you, right. That the difference. Can you just tell us that, that difference? I found it. I thought it was very interesting and what actually, I know what it is, but then I thought come up to me. I never thought that people didn't make the distinction. And when you wrote it out on Facebook, I want more parents to know this. I want more parents to be able to understand that. And I want more parents to be able to explain that to their young people, to the me.
Mayira Thomas (28:52):
I think the magic pit, I believe anyway, this is, I believe that the magic starts when we believe in who we all, just because we can be good at things. So, the confidence is that we are good at this or doing something like I use the example of celebrities, you know? What do we actually believe in like ourselves enough to have those loving relationships, those balanced lifestyles, you know? Cause you can be amazing. Like Whitney Houston is the lady. I know she's probably a different generation, you know, to the teenagers, but she was a phenomenal singer, but we all know that she like herself. She didn't think she was good enough. And that's what we need. We need to accept when we get to a level of self-esteem or self-belief. How, how do you rate someone? What kind of, you know, esteem do you rate them up? That kind of saying we hear a lot about, but is it, do you believe that you really are worthy? Have you accepted your flaws as well as your skills and your talents? I love that. And that's where I think that's when you grow.
Angela Karanja (30:23):
I love that. I love that self-esteem and it's a self-esteem is something it's a knowing that you are working, knowing that no matter how my neck looks like I'm good. You don't even have to tell you anyone that you're thinking I've got look at my hand. I am good. Right? Look at my fingers. I am good. They don't have to be like anyone else's. I am loving. There is a purpose for which I was put in this world because everything, everything in this world is different life. Maybe that everything is different. Every blade of grass is different. Including every human being is different and we need to start accepting ourselves as such.
Mayira Thomas (31:29):
Right. And loving ourselves as well. Yeah.
Angela Karanja (31:32):
Mayira Thomas (31:34):
That's the big one
Angela Karanja (31:37):
I'm really waiting to, for you to read that poem. I'm looking forward.
A Poem About embracing & empowering the uniqueness of your teenager(questioning what is normal)
Mayira Thomas (31:42):
It's yeah, it's called normality. That's what it's called.
So, what is normal? Who is normal? Normal is but an illusion.
What is normal to the spider is chaos to the fly who defines normal?
What is this normal?
We feel compelled. Obliged, forced to conform to.
All I know is we have our own minds bodies and true essences.
We only need to use these to the best of our abilities within our right environment, being the best of who we are and doing what we feel is right.
And just bringing goodness and service to and for others is what can bring us true joy.
This being true to ourselves is not an easy road, but once we, it, our normality becomes our relative freedom.
Wow. Normal is but an illusion.
Normal is what spoils us from our zest for living and never frees us from fear of judgements.
So, live your life, live life to what makes you, you be inspired to be you.
Angela Karanja (33:06):
That is so amazing. I think every, every kid, I mean every parent, every young person should memorize that. Right? I think we should. I think we should all memorize that. So that w when, when someone says or thinks you're weird, you you've got that conviction inside of yourself. You've got that. Self-Esteem to just help you carry on, help you move on. Do you know what I'm loving you so much? I think we should have you. I think we've got so much to talk about, but I think we should.
Mayira Thomas (33:50):
What is lovely? Angie it's, as I said, it's something that's very dear to me.
Angela Karanja (33:58):
Absolutely. Now, just before we finish, I'd like you to give from any of the topics that we talked about, what would be your, what we call pets or steps or strategies that you'd like to share with parents of teenagers? What is it that you would like to share?
Mayira Thomas (34:19):
Yeah. So, one of the ones, one of the really big things I think we need to incorporate within families is a gratitude. So, when we sit and we discuss, what have we actually enjoyed about the day? What have we got in our lives that we are happy and pleased about, but it has to be done consistently, not just a one-off? So, when I asked students, I'll say to them, just, just out of, especially if they're really upset or something, and to say, what's, what's good in your life at the moment. And it can be things like this, the sky is blue. I'm breathing, I'm alive. I have a roof over my head. I have running water. I know I'm very grateful every single day, because I wake up and I think, thank you. I'm actually here when you use to the best of our abilities, that's what we need.
Mayira Thomas (35:23):
But if we can incorporate that with parents as well, at the end of the day, you just need to write even one sentence. But it's acknowledging that actually, what, what, what's good in my life. Because once we start that right, for 28 days, at least you see a shift in your energy levels and your mind changes. You see, start seeing things differently. The more you do it, the more that's going to be wonderful. So that's one of the ones I think we need. And not something we need bring in to school as well. But the parents, another one could be affirmations writing with your child. Maybe, you know, what are you good at? Oh, I am strong, or I am beautiful. I am amazing. But you know, it's, it's picking out what suits your lifestyle. What's your favourite song, you know, and uplift that will change you into that positive mindset. When you're feeling a little low, something that you can reach out to that you enjoy, it might be baking a cake. It could be something you could do with your parents. What's an activity that both of you are going to enjoy and Bondo. So, there's all sorts of things, but it's actually, it's never dictating. It's also just saying what suits your lifestyle.
Angela Karanja (36:48):
All right. All right. You know, I like that gratitude. And there's something that when you're grateful, when you develop that attitude of gratitude, you become such up, you become such an open-minded person. You become a good and loving person to be around because you're grateful. You're bright. Right? And one of the things I have found, especially with teenagers, when they develop the attitude of gratitude, they stop, they stop that sense of entitlement, right? They stop that sense of, Oh, I don't have to say thank you that I should have this. Anyway. You know that attitude almost the nasty attitude drops because once you, once you adopt a good habit, the bad habit has to drop because such is the, that is a law of the universe, which is the space. When one space, you know, nature abhors, you say once, there's the good, if a good bear, there's no space for the right.
Mayira Thomas (38:08):
Do we look at things as well? How's the perspective.
Angela Karanja (38:13):
I love that. I love
Mayira Thomas (38:16):
There's lots. There's lots. I, I would love to. And I say to them, these are life skills that I would like to give. How does our mind actually can actually create our own reality?
Angela Karanja (38:28):
One of my lovely teachers, Wayne Dyer used to say, when you change the way you look at things, you look at change things around you change.
Mayira Thomas (38:42):
I'm, I'm living through that. Yeah. Very true.
Angela Karanja (38:47):
So, so grateful. And I am so, so thankful. I'm sure our listeners are excited about this. The, the sneak, even as, so how can they contact you? Because I think you're a very vulnerable contact to have. I think, I think every parent should have your, because I'm just feeling, I want to send you some of my kids there because sometimes we are not, we can't do it all by myself. It's really takes a village to raise these kids. And
Mayira Thomas (39:26):
Yes, yes it does.
Angela Karanja (39:27):
And since we don't live in villages anymore, it's these conversations that we're having. That's changeable by ideas. That's what the village is. So, a lot of people to be able to contact you, how do they do that?
Mayira Thomas (39:45):
So, it's, I, I only at the moment have a life Facebook group, a Facebook page, life coaching by Mayra and my Instagram, which actually young people, if they have, they can, this is very positive. There's positive stuff on the mayor dot T. I am working to get like an official email, but you can find me on Facebook and just message me through there for now. And I'll, I'll be getting a website and stuff. And if anyone does want me, I I'm a motivational speaker as well. So, you know, if anyone would like me to come and speak about being yourself and you know, that kind of creating your own reality, I can speak about that as well.
Angela Karanja (40:42):
Oh, brilliant guys. There, you've got to even contact Mayira on Facebook. Is that life coach?
Mayira Thomas (40:51):
Yes. Life coaching by Myra, empowering you to fulfil your goals.
Angela Karanja (41:01):
Absolutely. So, you got that and I'm so, so excited, so, so honoured, and I'm sure we'll be having you next because I could hear you got on confidence. I could hear you've got snippets on barely covered that. You know, we've barely scratched the surface, I think, but I'm still so grateful. Thank you so much for being here.
Mayira Thomas (41:28):
Thank you, Angie.
Instagram : @mayira.t
The ideas expressed in the interview are purely for advisory only and you should contact the Mayira Thomas for any clarifications and further directives.
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