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10 Facts About the Teens in Your House

I've got three....count them...3 teenagers in my home who are being asked by the government to socially distance themselves from friends. Can you hear the eye rolls from there?

This pandemic has brought about new challenges to all, so for the parents quarantined with adolescents, this post is for you. 🙂 Here are 10 facts about the teens in your house to help you survive the at-home quarantine. Because let’s be honest, a small part of us LOVES having our teenagers home.

1. They are literally missing parts of their brain. No, Seriously. We aren’t talking zombie-movie either. Adolescents have a part of the brain, the frontal lobe, that doesn’t fly at max capacity until around 25. It’s the part that helps people make logical, good decisions. Think go-cart without a fully developed brake. 😮

So when they make the [what-in-the-world-were-you-thinking] decision to write on furniture with a Sharpie or post THAT post on their social media: breath, set appropriate boundaries, and remember their brain is in a full-blown developmental phase.

2. Phenomenal Cosmic Powers! Itty Bitty Living Space! If only the Genie from Aladdin understood the power of the amygdala. {<--big word ALERT}

The drama around teenagers is thick, and the majority of it stems from a small, almond-shaped part of the brain called the amygdala. Where the logical part of the brain is running on minimum capacity, the emotional part of the brain is at the max.

So during this forced togetherness, this situation can become combustible.

When the conversation become...LOUD, calmly communicate you will step away with an intent to return. By giving yourself space to cool off, you give them time too. Conversations aren’t productive when both parties operate like they are the grand finale of the fireworks on the 4th of July.

3. Sleeping Beauty has nothing on these teenagers. So misunderstood, they are. Teenagers need sleep, like serious sleep. If they go to bed at 9 and sleep until 9, they’re not lazy; they are growing. Sleep is as healthy as those squash noodles you try to pass off as spaghetti. {blech!}

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 8 to 10 hours of sleep for adolescents. So really, this quarantine thing is the perfect time to let them get the developmentally appropriate sleep they need.

4. They have more opinions than a politician in election season. The time will soon arrive for the baby bird to leave the nest, and one of the ways life prepares them is to develop their ideas, judgments, and conclusions.

Sure, once upon a time they took your word as coming straight from God's mouth to your ear. But now the are in the season where thy have to figure out for themselves what they think about...well, everything: faith, education, politics, and the Star Wars Trilogy.

Give them a little breathing room and see what beauty may emerge. Ask questions and listen to their answers. {I've been having some interesting conversations with my college age daughter over on my Facebook page} You might find some incredible insight coming from those mouths you help feed.

5. Teenagers rotate interests, relationships, and styles faster than you can blink. Adolescents have one foot in adulthood and one foot in childhood. For them, it is like playing the ball game of life with one foot in a high heel and the other one in a cleat. Just plain awkward for almost a decade. Ugh.

Their brain is growing. {The fancy word is neuroplasticity, meaning their brain is under construction.} So teenagers are far more open and willing to try new things, which is pretty remarkable when you see positive possibilities.

So when they go from saying their favorite food is chicken nuggets to sushi wrapped in an organic, grass-fed [pretty sure that isn’t a thing] seaweed, just roll with it. M'Kay?

6. Friends are EVERYTHING!!! Think about the top teen novels and movies. Does the protagonist usually save the world with their family? Nope. Keep that storyline for the kids’ edition, The Incredibles. When it comes to teenagers, they save the world with their friends!

Friends are a big deal to the teenager. Maybe more important to them than their families, sometimes. This is developmentally appropriate. {Do I need to repeat that?} They need to start making the transition into adulthood, and investing in friendships is how they go about accomplishing that task.

Depending upon their personality type, they may have 1-2 sincere, close friends, or 15 besties. Either way, the quarantine has rocked their “friend” world. Sure they are digital natives and live so much of their life online, but they still get in plenty of social interaction with church, school, and other activities. And they are missing it ALL.Offer empathy and encourage them to keep connecting online, especially during the quarantine. It is healthy for the soul.

7. Living with a teenager is like living with a K9 dog. They find what you hide. Based on the fact their brain is under construction, they use this superpower to survive the ever-so-infamous social pecking order at school, but they also use this at home to learn the lay of the land.

As teenagers gather data at a rapid speed to understand how the world works, they also watch how parents live their lives. In other words, they can spot a fake, so keep it real [developmentally appropriate, of course] about life. Apologize when you need to. And laugh about it when you get busted. They can be way more graceful than you think.

8. Find a happy place! Find a happy place! Hmmm…whose Darla from Finding Nemo?!? Parents or teenagers? 😉

This generation is the first group of adolescents to grow up entirely in the digital age. Inundated with social media, they see lives presented through a rose-colored filter.

Research has yet to provide conclusive information on how social media and the digital age is affecting their minds. They, too, fight a war…it’s just a war of the mind. {FOMO, anyone?}

So check in on their socials, on them. Ask questions and pay [casual] attention as they scroll. Then pray. Ask questions, then pray some more.

9. The “H” word every teenage parent fears: Hacked. Ok, well, second: Hormones. Puberty ushers in testosterone and estrogen, like a coupon lady on Black Friday. It’s like Baby Jack-Jack has a grown man’s body and can talk. So while you are in tight quarters with this kaleidoscope of a human being, offer yourself some grace and your teenager. Define appropriate guidelines and be consistent. This season too, shall pass.

10. Knowing is Half the Battle. Did G.I. Joe say that? He was so wise. Weird.

Teenagers have a brain that is evolving like a chia-pet, which means they got a whole lot going inside that body of theirs. While you may reminisce about the days of Dora and Diego, your son or daughter may be wondering what is happening to me!?!

When the time is right [and timing is everything with teenagers], drop a spoonful of adolescence education their way, but just a spoonful. A bite of dark chocolate a day can be healthy for your heart, but a candy bar a day, well, you get it. If your teenager understands even a fraction of what is going on in their brain, it can create opportunities for empathy, confidence, and hope.

You’ve Got This

I don’t know what lies ahead, and all we have is today. So I hope this helps you connect to your teenager at this moment.

These adolescents are already in a different season of life, but now it is coupled with a front-row seat to living history- the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020. They need a consistent, unconditional, grace-filled, flexible-on-when-to-show-it love.

Who better to offer it than you?

You’ve got this!

P.S. This list is provided from the perspective of my work and research with teenagers for over twenty years. It’s designed to give encouragement and general advice. It’s not intended to be a comprehensive, professional guide.

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