The Teen Years

‘I expected that I would be absolutely prepared, unshockable, understanding – and that they wouldn’t do anything that I did when I was their age. I still love them like it actually hurts, but the truth is I don’t like a lot of what I see or hear of their adolescence.’ (parent of a teen)

A non-judgemental, honest, peer support group for parents and carers of teenage children. A chance to share the triumphs and challenges of this time and acknowledge the transition of your role as centre stage in your children’s lives to somewhere in the wings.

May 7, 14, 21, 28 2021 - 11.00-12.30 on Zoom. Contact or 07907 492992 to register your interest.

Topics covered include:
Communication and How this Has Changed, The Difference between Secrecy and Privacy, Hopes and Fears, Reality of being Parent to a Teen versus Expectation, Social Media, Life in Lockdown

When your impending Teen isn't going to the school you've chosen...


The allocation of secondary school places has long been a contentious issue in Brighton, this year there are 62 children in the Varndean/ Dorothy Stringer catchment area that have been allocated schools outside of catchment. A high proportion of these children have been offered schools a considerable distance from their homes, that would involve hour long commutes on two or more buses.


In previous years the schools have added additional classes to accommodate ‘bulge’ numbers in high birth years. The parents of these children have been campaigning for the same provision this year under the name Misplaced 62. A petition with over 2,400 signatures was heard at the council meeting last week but despite massive public support the councillors stuck to a script that says the schools do not have space, and that all the schools in Brighton are rated ‘good’ by Ofsted.


As a parent of a misplaced 62 child, I am dismayed at the lack of empathy the council has shown. These children have already been through an incredibly difficult year, with months off school and isolated from their friends. To now have the prospect of further isolation by being placed in schools so far from home.


Despite the decision at the council meeting the families are continuing to ask for answers as to how this situation has arisen. To follow the campaign please follow @misplaced62 on Twitter.


Thirteen years into this unimaginable, consuming parenting experience, I find myself living with a whole new incarnation of the little boy that I knew. There seemed to be a link between the baby, toddler, preschooler, infant, junior phases – a transition that was seemingly gradual. The skins kept shedding to reveal the next version of the one before but this most recent phase is a shock to the system.

I suddenly realised one day when Louie was 12 that we were at eye level – I was no longer looking down towards him or had to bend to hug him. And then one day, very soon after, I was looking up to him. And I cried. It dramatically changed the dynamics between us. It’s been just Louie and me since he was four and despite the changes, I knew my place with him and he, I felt, knew his with me and this physical change momentarily shook the confidence that I have always felt in my general ability to effectively parent him.

It’s as if the little chap I knew so well has dissolved and there is this startlingly different version in his place. I must admit there is an element of the confused mind, that so loves things to stay the same, wondering where that little one went to. It's a kind of death. I will never see him again, never hold him again and as with death there is grief. I suppose it’s a compounded grief for all those phases that passed before and this stark difference is a wake up call to the final departure of the infant and junior and the simultaneous celebratory arrival and emergence of the teenager.

That dreamy notion to have a baby bears no resemblance to this. This is something else entirely.

I’m aware that those with older teens will say, ‘Just you wait, you have no idea.’ And its true, we do have no idea about the challenges of any phase, until it's actually happening, and all we can do is continue to commit to the role that we agreed to take on, digging ever deeper into our unknown repertoire of parenting skills and talents that seemingly can’t be fully discovered until we fail, make so called mistakes and behave badly. Hopefully, not just me?

This, right now, for me, is the most challenging to date as I’m constantly shifting the balance of being there for him, with him and backing off depending on what is happening and how much I feel he silently needs me and how much he wants space just to be who he is becoming without me.

The independent one needs me to both let him go but also to be right there. To fight his corner, yet be unbiased. I feel like I am being called upon to step right up to the plate, to show all I have got as a mother so he never doubts my love for him even as my passion to raise a decent human turns to exasperation with the tediously repetitive foibles and occasional more serious incidents and I lose it. Often spectacularly.

Even as I wonder who this lanky youth is, that I share my home with and that replaced my little boy, I still give thanks every day. I like being around this guy, I like knowing him and I’m so privileged to be the one that is having the experience of being his mum. He makes me laugh hysterically and smile broadly. His current antics and questionable behaviour bring a nervous nausea and sometimes the hot tears of frustration and upset fall uncontrollably.

But the love! Oh the love. That’s when I remember he’s the same one. Despite the outward change, the deep voice, the surprising insecurity, and the need for privacy and space to explore without me, it’s the unseen gossamer thread between us containing the strength of power of the universe that arrived with that baby that remains constant.

Unconditional love.

It can withstand anything.

Lesley Hughes, Teen Years facilitator - The Secret Life of Mothers

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