Enjoying the ups and downs of living with teenagers!
Once your child enters the tween stage things will change. This sounds scarier than it actually is and once you really think about it - things are always changing anyway. With a tween in the house just at a different speed level.
And when we say tween, we say teen too. Because going from the first to the latter is just a little step compared to the child phase. And because we like to get experts on board when we discuss important topics we asked two mums to share their ups and downs of living with teenagers.
We invited Barbara and Tine, the power duo behind cool children’s wear label Soft Gallery, to talk about teens, social media and parenthood.
Barbara Hvidt, is the mum of Nola who just turned 12 years and Siggi who is 14.
Tine Holt Møller (we featured her beautiful house on Luna before) is the mum of Norman 15 years, and Ida 12 years.
Please introduce your children to us:
Barbara: Siggi and Nola are fairly different. Siggi is extremely outgoing and social. Nola is more observing and throws herself into things when she feels safe. She likes to push her own boundaries but does it in her own steady pace, where Siggi just moves forward.
They are definitely mirroring and inspiring each other although these personal diversities often clash in several arguments which drives us totally nuts. Maybe because they are opposite sexes or maybe due to their different personalities. Until this day, I still cannot figure out the reason for these pointless, yet innocent and endless, discussions.
Luckily, as they have become older it is getting better. They have much better understanding of each other. They have become more patient in general, more mature and reflective.
Siggi is very intuitive with an ongoing, unbreakable positive mind and spirit. He loves being around people and his goal is to be really good at different languages. So that he can travel the world and meet people, which is his biggest dream. Siggi wants to work with vblogging, youtube, documentary, talking and interviewing people. And he also dj´s at private parties with his friend Felix, through their business set-up called “TWONIGHTDJS”.
As Siggi slowly became a teenager we haven’t experienced any specific mood change, it is more the body language that is changing. His shoulders have become broader and his attitude more manful. He is strong-willed but always with care, and he still enjoys cuddling with me and his dad. We are very physical in our family, we kiss and hug a lot and use many love words, we also argue but forgive quickly.
Nola has a good eye for details, colours and motives. She loves taking photos and working with her hands and writes her own songs and poetic stories. She attends modern dancing and singing classes and has a group of sweet girlfriends.
Nola is definitely a preteen, a journey towards becoming an adolescent, as she now waves between being a little girl and a young woman.
One moment she is dressing up in costumes, spending hours doing creative stuff, making collages, bracelets etc… And the next day she and her friends go to town on their own, drink Bubble Tea and hang out in Tivoli Garden. We live in a city where it is safe as a 12-year-old to explore without assistance. It is great to see how she blossoms every time she has been on her own. I definitely see how it has boosted her self-esteem and how it makes her grow independent.
Tine: My older child, Norman, is quite a funny kid. He talks a lot, make jokes and has a humorous approach to many things in life. He is also a very sensitive guy and has always been very open to share and discuss his thoughts and feelings with us. I love that!
He is very much into nature and his favorite destination is Iceland, where we are traveling to this October, and he is so much looking forward to the adventures.
Norman spends a lot of time with his friends and loves listening to music, to sing, play the piano and tennis.
Summertime and the bright nights are often spend with friends, jumping from the nearby wooden pier.
And he is quite into fashion as well. In his own way and different from the rest of his friends. He is very confident about his taste and doesn’t care what others might think. For example, he had his thing for pink last year and painted his room in light pink; all his sweats and t-shirts were all light pink too. I really like and appreciate that he is not going with the flow but finds his own way. Norman rests in himself, he stands out.
Since we started Soft Gallery, I have always asked him for his opinion about the boy collections. We discuss artworks, colours and shapes, and he often sends me pictures from Instagram with things he likes or ideas for artists and artworks for the next collection.
He stepped into the life of a teenager the last couple of years with all that the age implies, both positively and negatively. He still discusses his thoughts on friends, friendship, girls, alcohol and friends smoking. All the things that fill his everyday life, like parties he attends and so on. We appreciate that he still shares this with us.
On the other hand, we can feel that he doesn´t need us the same way he did before. These days it´s more important for him to spend his evenings and weekends with friends. Compared to earlier days I have to find and invent new ways of spending time together with him. We play tennis, table tennis, cards, go the cinema or watch teen series. I love and appreciate these moments and time we have together.
Ida is quite a tom-boy femme. She loves ballet, hip hop dancing and acting. And she spends time with her friends being creative doing beads-bracelets, foam clay and drawings. At the same time, however, she loves to go mountain biking, hanging out with the boys at school, playing ball games and cards. Ida also loves jumping into the water from the wooden pier at the harbour or from cliffs. The higher the better!
She is adventurous and loves to sleep outdoors. And like her brother, she has a good sense of humour, and a great sense of self-mockery.
My girl is very much into reading. During the last summer she has been into historic books like “Anne Frank´s Diary” and the story of Queen Caroline Mathilde of Denmark, who started a relationship of love with the king’s physician J.F. Struensee.
Ida is also taking the first steps into being a teenager. She is still our little girl who needs a hug and cuddle but she also spends more time with friends, both boys and girls. Of course, she can also feel how her friends mature differently and how their personalities starts to change. I am happy to say that she is quite self-confident, and so far, navigates through this new phase in a good way.
What was the ‘eye opening’ moment where you realized – ‘I am living with a teen’?
Barbara: I guess the first parents test arose at the time when we had to make new reasonable rules for our teenage child. New set of rules in terms of staying out late, drinking, smoking, etc. Topics that suddenly became part of our everyday talks. With the first signs of adolescence comes another type of curiosity and independent thinking which suddenly you, as a parent, have to consider how it used to be and how it should be moving forward.
Making sure to do it cleverly to maintain the close and trustful relationship that has always been nourished. Somehow being open-minded and negotiable to a certain point about these new set of rules with your child. Jan and I believe in an open dialogue, where all kind of topics are allowed to be discussed. Our house is an open house for friends and so is our way of thinking. There will always be other kids around your own children with different sets of rules and different practice.
For us, it is important to take time to discuss these topics in depth, all pros and cons and explain the thoughts behind the final decision that we take for our child/teenager in the end. I feel both Siggi and Nola are in a good healthy stage where we have a mutual agreement and understanding towards each other and what soon enough will come when time is right.
Tine: We did not experience a specific eye opening moment. It feels more like a subtle journey into a new era. But surely when things like alcohol and friends’ smoking or when you are not allowed at parties if you don’t bring alcohol – these were eye opening things to us. And to him. Something so different and new and that he definitely needed to find his own way around too.
Nor did we prepare for a specific moment. Time passes so fast and suddenly you step into this new era in life. We have a lot of good friends around us and we discuss and help each other with experiences and advice. It helps us understand and prepare for the transformations that the teens are going through.
I think the most interesting change has been to witness Norman´s change in personality. His sensitivity and thoughts, his interest in music and becoming more and more confident in how he wants things to be when it comes to friends, clothes, school and us.
Do you have rules in your house? What are they?
Barbara: We have standard rules, I guess, like any other family. One needs to be part of the household, do the homework, wake up on time for school, don’t fight with your sibling etc.
As they have become older and more independent, we try to find a good balance between sense and freedom, in situations like: when to arrive back home in the evening, what is “the right time” to be home at night. I sought advice from friends who had already been there.
Above all, the only very strict rule with our kids is the “no alcohol” policy before turning 16 years.
Tine: We do not have concrete rules at home. Nothing but ordinary good behavior and mutual respect. But there are things we appreciate and maintain. For example, every morning we have breakfast together for at least 20 minutes. It’s a warm and good start to catch up before we part for school and work.
What is the best part about ‘living with teens’?
Barbara: I love how conversations and subjects become more reflective as they grow older. And I love to see how they are growing into being their own individual with their own personal views on life. It is both intriguing and inspiring. it is great to be part of their development and how we can also learn from them. My son often gives me pieces of advice in difficult situations, he is “my personal coach” and I totally embrace every word he says.
My daughter and I are very close friends and I love that she is open towards me with intimate details and feelings. Hanging out with her in her pre-teen room talking everyday life situations is a great pleasure. And now that we are almost wearing the same size, well, that has opened up a lot of new conversations where you feel almost as if you are at the same age.
Tine: I think the best part is the nascent maturity we experience. The beauty in seeing him becoming a man both physically, in his personality and thoughts.
All the inspiration he returns to us by being a young man with new fresh ideas, thoughts and passion.
What Is the difference of being a teen today and back when you were an adolescent?
Barbara: In many ways today’s teenagers are no different from when we were kids— but they are the first generation whose lives are saturated by mobile technology and social media. Cultural forces that are shaping their lives in a different way than when we were young.
No matter what precautions one takes as a parent, teens are still likely to be exposed to inappropriate content online. It is, therefore, important for us as parents to get involved and help reduce the unpleasantness our kids can be facing online.
I try to show interest in what Siggi and Nola are doing online. In that way I can guide them or support them to a certain extend if needed.
Someone once told me: “Encourage your child to get off the phone and have a break if anything makes you sad”.
For the time being, my children are mainly using SoMe as an inspiration tool. Nola follows a lot of DIY pages and manages her “vintage” shop together with a friend.
Tine: To me the big difference is all the social medias. The need and wish to be online all the time is quite sad I think. But the teens don´t think about it. They love it. And it´s a natural part of their life. I sometimes wish for more quite time, time for imagination, more time to play, read or maybe get bored.
How are the vibes and connections between the siblings?
Barbara: As mentioned earlier, Siggi and Nola are quite different in personalities and, to some extend, their outlooks on life. Which makes the waves go high once in a while. But as they have become older, they see the benefits in supporting and inspiring each other with ideas, problems and interests. They are building up countless of memories as they are growing up together and getting wiser. I cross my fingers that they will enjoy each other’s company for the rest of their lives.
Tine: Despite the three years age difference, and being boy and girl, they have a very loving relationship. They often find moments to do things together. When they were younger they did skateboarding or jumping the trampoline. Reading and laughing before bedtime.
Now, with a teenager in the house, it´s becoming a bit more random. But they still find moments like playing cards, watching movies or doing homework together.
Over Christmas last year we went for a two month journey to Central America and it was a huge pleasure to witness the warm and humorous bond between them. That was the best thing we ever did as a family and something that definitely strengthened their relationship for the coming years.
Is there a golden rule to avoid miscommunication and a lack of understanding?
Barbara: Living with teenager also makes you think back on how your relationship was with your own parents. How they used to handle different situations when you were a teen. What I have experienced and learned from my own parents is never to judge your children and to make sure that they can always share things with you whatever it may be.
Tine: I think the best way to avoid miscommunication and misunderstanding is to constantly talk with your kids, pay attention to them and their surroundings.
Even though it can very often feel the opposite, they still need you as a parent and guidance.
Do you feel that you understand your teen’s life?
Barbara: In many ways, I feel I understand both Siggi and Nola. Since I have been there myself at some point, I recognize the same joys and challenges that they are facing as when we were kids. However, due to the fact that they are much more exposed to many different things in life, I try to do my best to guide my kids on how to maneuver between all these possibilities.
Keeping life fairly simple, safe and fun despite the fact that they are slowly entering adulthood.
Tine: Yes I do. Norman is still very good at opening up and talking about his feelings or if something is bucking him. But off course there is also a lot of things we don´t know about. Looking back at my own time as a teen, I guess this is the way it should be.
What do you wish your children for the future?
Barbara: I wish for them to always understand the importance of being good to yourself and other people. What you send out is what comes back.
Tine: I wish that they will end up doing something they love, and something they are passionate about. I wish they will travel and see the world, and not least, DREAM BIG…
Thank you for the interview Barbara & Tine!
Our favourite teen styles from Soft Gallery:
This interview is part of our ongoing partnership with Soft Gallery.