Easy ways to show teens you care

Affection for teens
Written by contributor Cheryl Pitt of the 2:1 conference

I‘m one of “those moms”. The irritating ones who refuse to accept society norms as the status quo. Just because society as a whole says this is the way it is, doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be. I’m sure many of you would agree with me because homeschoolers, in general, are a very independent-minded group.

That’s why whenever I hear horror stories of teens who suddenly refuse to hug their mothers in public, who quit saying “I love you” and roll their eyes ten times a day, I refuse to accept it. It doesn’t have to be that way, I tell myself. Our teens can choose to rise above the low standards society has set before them.

I believe that, wholeheartedly! My family has been blessed to know several teens who haven’t gone through a difficult phase. It does happen…

It just hasn’t happened in my house yet.

My eldest, a 17 year young man, with a strong work ethic, a great moral compass and a helpful heart, no longer likes to say he loves me. He usually opts to ask his father for advice instead of me. He doesn’t want me to tag along at the movies.

And while I understand he’s becoming an adult, and it’s okay, it’s not always easy. Most days I feel like I’m trying to hug a porcupine.

Have you ever tried to hug a porcupine?? It’s not always easy or fun. But if you are parenting a teen, I’m here to tell you you must hug that porcupine!! Sometimes those who push you away are the ones who need you the most.


So here are a few way to hug that porcupine as painlessly as possible.

Say You Love Them

Never stop telling your child you love them. Even if they roll their eyes or refuse to reply. Say it. Every day.

Be Physically Affectionate

They might not want a full bear hug like when they were 5, but keep the physical touch going. A pat on the back for a job well done, ruffling their hair or gently squeezing their arm – little demonstrations of affection go a long way.

Invite Them Along

Ask them to accompany you on your walk or outing to the store. They may never say yes, but simply being asked could mean a lot.

Encourage Them

Encourage your child in their own interests – even if you don’t share the same tastes.

Don’t Deal In Drama

Do your best to stay calm. Teenagers can have a lot of drama. They haven’t yet lived an independent life.

Remind yourself, when your child is stressing about something that seems trivial to you, that it’s not trivial to them. This may be the biggest challenge they’ve faced so far.

Advise When Asked

There will be times your teen will come to you to fix a problem. But generally, only offer advice if they ask for it. Be sparing. Too much advice can feel like judgement to a teen.

Laugh With Them

Laughing together is a great feeling that creates security and trust. Find a way to laugh with (not at!) your teen!

These have worked for me in keeping the lines of communication open between myself and my eldest. Even though he may not demonstrate his love for me, or like all my parental decisions, he knows 100% that he is loved.

How do you stay connected with the teens in your home?

About Cheryl Pitt

Cheryl has been homeschooling since 2001; she home educates 5 children from baby to teen. She is a brand consultant and avid social media user. Her heart for strong family values and the companies that promote them, led her to found the 2:1 Conference - the only conference for homeschooling parents active in social media. You can find Cheryl at her blog Cheryl Pitt.


  1. There were some great points here to keep in mind. My kiddos are only 10 and they both express their love and feelings pretty well. I was thinking as I read this, the teens that my children hang around with are the same way with their parents. They tell their mom and dad they love them and hug them and don’t mind being around them. I don’t know if that’s because of being homeschooled or our religious background(not saying that PS or nonreligious kids can’t be the same way, but from what I have seen with my friends children). It’s just the norm for our young ones to see their teen friends not be prickly.
    We do a lot of the things you listed now with our tweens and I hope that it will continue into their teens. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Thanks Rana, I also see that outward, loving behavior a lot more in homeschool circles. Like you said, probably because we are blessed to spend so much time with our children, it really builds strong relationships. Such a blessing.
      Cheryl Pitt’s latest post: Silent August

  2. This was a great article. I don’t even have teens…or anywhere near! But it was helpful!
    Keep up the good work!!

  3. I remember those days with our oldest!! He is now 24 and lives about 2200 miles from us. Some days where tough trying not to be pricked! Today he communicates with us on a weekly basis, sometimes daily depending on the week. Our younger boys are going through the tween years. Here’s to hoping we can keep those lines open enough for these porcupines! 🙂

  4. I love your section ‘Don’t Deal in Drama’. I only have a newborn daughter but having worked with teens have at times found their dramas somewhat petty and hard to understand. These dramas now make much more sense when you consider ‘they haven’t yet lived an independent life’. Thank you for your explanation of this, I feel I have gained a new understanding.
    Jessica’s latest post: Scarecrows just don’t tick my box! Discovering my outdoor style.

  5. I needed to hear this after a very hard day with my 12 year old. It is like hugging a porcupine today, but everything you say rings so true. AND, it’s very good to hear I’m not alone in my struggles. I think parenting a teen/preteen (especially when you homeschool) can be very isolating. Thanks for the tips!

  6. So agree with what you are saying … I also have refused to accept the “norm’s” for allowing or fostering ‘typical’ teen attitude. However, despite my expectations, my just turned 16 yr old (& oldest) has quit even acknowledging me when I say, “I love you”. If I try the small touch or pat I get a shrug and a “don’t touch me” look. Every other point you mentioned happens in our home frequently. This last year was a hard one to remember to laugh thru – however, we had an opportunity to hear Tim Hawkins in July and it was WONDERFUL to hard core gut-laugh next to my son. I had tears in my eyes from laughing and in thankfulness for hearing his laugh right next to me. We walked out of there refreshed and a whole lot less prickly.

    • Redemption – it sounds like a wonderful night! Hold on to that feeling during the difficult moments. That moment is what you’ll have more of in the future…once the teen-dom is finished 🙂
      Cheryl Pitt’s latest post: Silent August

  7. Great advice, Cheryl. Asking them to go out with you may seem pointless. But, you never know, they just might say ‘Yes.’

  8. I’m one of “those” moms, too. My oldest is about to turn 13, and I can’t wait to see what the teen years will look like for us. Thanks for this!
    Melissa Camara Wilkins’s latest post: Dear Sir

  9. “Laughing together is a great feeling that creates security and trust.” –
    I agree 100%. Thank you for sharing this beautiful article.
    -arra (mother of 3, aged 18, 13 and 2)

  10. I used to dance in parking lots with my four kids when they were little. I used to call to my small children with chicken noises to check where they were in the house (hard to explain, but some hens make a delightfully inquisitive-sounded “bawk?”). I used to kiss them on the cheeks with a resounding smack noise.

    Then they became teens. And you know what?

    They did all this stuff back to me. Parking lot dancing, chicken noises, loud smooches! They also took to giving me giant bear hugs, even around other people. I suspect the bear-hugging tended to happen when I was fussing about something, a way of keeping me quiet by melting my heart a little. They’re also independent, sarcastic, driven-to-learn on their own kids. We don’t need to expect the worst of the teen years. We do need to let them be themselves. It helps to be ourselves around them, from day one.

    Sharing this lovely post!
    Laura Grace Weldon’s latest post: International Hosting: How Strangers Become Family

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