Latest Stories

Do you know why your teens are the way they are?

I believe in the power of repetition and building habits


My little boys have grown. As I watch my two sons sleep peacefully, I often say a prayer of thanks for the years we have gone through together. They have grown from lovable bundles of joy into endearing full-fledged teens. I love my boys tremendously, though they can be a handful at times.

To help me understand the way youngsters think, I took up subjects on developmental growth and gathered some facts. I am no specialist, and my only wish is to help parents understand their children more.

During the teen years, the brain goes through a major reorganization. It’s like a tree being pruned, where the unnecessary branches are cut off for new ones to grow and better connections formed so that in time, it will be ready for all kinds of weather.

But while this goes on, having to absorb information can be a huge challenge. This is not indicative of intellectual capacity, though, which works in another part of the brain.

The human brain has other parts for evaluating choices, decision-making and taking action, so if our teenager’s brain is going through this kind of pruning, it’s bound to  make some lopsided judgement. This explains the clumsiness, the angst, the need for greater independence and privacy, and impulsiveness.

Keep in mind, though, that in the case of extreme, morally wrong behavior or addiction, we should seek help for the child. And if so, we should not see this phase as a problem, but rather as a challenging and adaptive period.

Bumpy ride

While I’m not generalizing about teenagers, there may be points here you can relate to. And if we think about it, we did go through some impulsiveness, agitation and clumsiness, too, when we were their age.

When we get annoyed with their confusing behavior, we must understand that they are going through a bumpy ride themselves. We might see their behavior as ridiculous or disrespectful, which creates greater tension in our relationship with them.

The teenage years are a time of identity-searching, temptation, pressure and self-awareness. Their response depends on how we react whenever they try to open up to us parents. And if we are not there to support them through this difficult phase, they might go and find the answers somewhere else.

I believe in the power of repetition and building habits. We should never give up encouraging the right behavior. Be mindful, though, that it’s not what questions you ask a teenager, but how you ask them. Our demeanor, tone of voice and sensitivity count a lot.

It also helps if we know the physiological, mental and emotional changes our kids go through in puberty. That way, we don’t get offended or alarmed when they seem restless, out of touch, demanding, or have self-image concerns.

When Joshua gives me inaudible gibberish as an answer when I ask what he did in school, instead of reacting negatively, I assume he is too tired to talk about it because of schoolwork or basketball practice, or just not interested in answering just yet.

In any case, the important thing is that he got home safe. I can just ask him again over dinner, when he is more relaxed.

I worry about Mark a lot, but I knew that college life was also an opportunity for self-discovery. Since the start of his second year, I allowed my eldest son, Mark, to stay in a dorm. It was a difficult decision, but I knew that sooner or later his need for independence will come.

I gave him a set of rules which he must abide, covering everything from his academic performance and managing his allowance, to the upkeep of the dorm and frequency of our communication.

When we helped him move his things to the dorm, I cried buckets. I kept thinking of the years I had protected him and Joshua from sadness or harm. I thought about the time  my little Mark  would call me from their room to show me a spider under their bed. Spiders scared me to death, but at that time, I had to act like the brave superhero they thought I was.

But it’s different now.

Right or wrong

In between tears from missing him, I said, “Mark, there will be times when you might think you don’t have a choice. Never allow yourself to think that. Sorting things out may be confusing because you have so many options, so keep it simple and just ask yourself if it is right or wrong. If you’re able to do that, then I wouldn’t have much to worry about.”

Mark assured me by saying, “I know that I am responsible for the freedom you gave me.  You always showed me that I have a choice in any situation, as long as I know what is right and wrong. The hardships I’m experiencing these days are for the right reasons—my self-improvement. Don’t worry, Mom, you raised me well, and you know that. I know that I can do more, and that is why I’m doing what I am doing. We’ll get through it together.”

Mark and I continue to have our little misunderstandings, but he makes sure our communication lines are open.

Our children live in a world entirely different from what we parents have gotten used to. It is time to accept that and work toward knowing what we can do, rather than lecturing about how different we were from them.

Sure, there are more things to fear once our children step out that door, but this should not stop us from continuing to be their guiding light. We wish the best for them, and know that they can be much more than what they are now.

So on their journey, let’s do our heartfelt best to be there when they need us. How difficult this adjustment is will depend on how much we are willing to welcome change in our relationship  with our teenagers.  This knowledge should motivate us to reinforce the lessons we teach them. We owe it to them, and to ourselves.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to prop your child up with the comfort of knowing that whatever happens, we will never be out of reach? Can you imagine how much more difficult it could be when they become parents themselves? Let’s go that extra mile and start now.  If we choose to do the right thing, it can definitely be the hardest mountain to climb. But the wisdom we can provide will be the ultimate gift we can ever give.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Family , Lifestyle , PARENTING , teenagers

  • Mux

    I so agree with this. True, we were once teenagers ourselves so as parents we also have an idea of what they are going through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasuncionrauber Judy Nepomuceno Asuncion Raube

    Bravo Mrs. Marina Benipayo for your sensible and reality checks re TeenStagecoping for a mother! This may help us understand our teenagers better as we slowly embark of becoming independent moms after that tough wonderful and long- baby-toddler years! Hopefully, most moms out there will reconsider to make some serious thoughts on this practical “survival tips” you`ve shared, particularly on how to deal solidly on the setting in of TEEN-to-Grown up Developmental stage! AND—–Hurrah to dedicated moms, who probably did this well and now can spend the next half of their Lives ever so confident, fullfilled and immensely thankful experiencing a new generation led by many sons and daughters wt high paying jobs, responsible-matured- Independent-good young citizens of the world! Nevertheless, we should be mindful that regardless of a moms` comfort zone and “howTo raise” effort, Teenagers are still distinct individuals and grow up with lots of influencial building-factors! Well read! :)

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  3. Palawan favorite getaway of show biz celebrities
  4. Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  5. Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  6. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  7. A tale of two Priscillas: my mother Prissy and Chona Recto Kasten
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  7. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  6. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  7. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  8. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  9. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • Obama, family cause a small stir at Easter service
  • Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  • Ancient enigmatic carvings in danger of disappearing
  • Tagle: Hope comes with warning on Easter
  • New plant to boost supply of clean energy
  • Sports

  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Rain or Shine drops Ginebra in big hole
  • Ateneo whips CSB; Davao debuts with win over FEU
  • PH pug Hipolito Banal decisions Colombian in Aiba
  • Former Pacquiao sparmate Porter keeps IBF title
  • Lifestyle

  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Korean animation comes of age
  • Entertainment

  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Persistence pays off for The 1975
  • Special section in LA fest for Filipino films
  • Business

  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Bourse to woo Cebu stock mart investors
  • Supper power
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit