50 questions you can ask your spouse to connect and deepen your relationship

Parenting Teenagers: Tips for Connecting and Building Meaningful Relationships


*This transcript is taken directly from the audio of the podcast. Errors may be present in the transcription, if you catch anything we missed please reach out to Hello@TheKitchenCounter.com.

Camille: Welcome to the Kitchen Counter Podcast. I’m Camille.

Kristen: And I am Kristen. I am sister number two. .

Camille: Oh yeah. I guess I should say I’m sister number one, but . We’re all just sisters. We’re just sisters, right. All right, Kristen, before we dive into today’s topic, I just have to know this is the question of the week.

Okay. What is something that you bought on Amazon this week? Was your Amazon purchase of the week? I’ll start with mine. You can think for a minute. Okay, perfect. Gimme a second. I, This is something that I bought and I am loving it. So Kodiak cakes, that pancake and muffin mix. My kids love that and I love it.

I feel good about feeding my kids that. So we have the Kodiak cakes, but they make like muffins in a mug or they call it a power cup. Oh yeah. Yeah. And so it’s basically the muffin mix in a little cardboard. Cup, you add a little bit of water, microwave, it makes the perfect muffin. It’s the perfect muffin.

So I bought those in on Amazon in bulk and it has been breeze this week for quick and easy breakfast out the door. The kids can take it with like a spoon to school and eat it on the carpool right there. So that has been my Amazon purchase, purchase of the week, and it has been a lifesaver. So, That’s my good find.

Kristen: Well, good. Well, okay. Mine is not necessarily a good find . It’s just, uh, something that I keep forgetting to buy. And so we’re kind of in the transition of like, it’s getting a little cooler so we’re, you know, getting out the winter stuff, but you can still wear warm things. But we were outta hangers, so I bought on Amazon because I couldn’t get myself to the store to go buy them

Camille: Oh my gosh. Kristen’s keeping it real. Okay. I’m not gonna lie, I actually looked on Amazon for hangs a week or two ago. Yes. They’re crazy expensive.

Kristen: Oh, they totally are, you can get ’em a dollar tree or you can pay a ton more on Amazon. Right. But right now I don’t have 20 minutes to drive to the store to pick it up and drive.

You know, I just, I just keep forgetting and finally my daughter’s like, I need hangers today. I’m like, Okay. Just gonna order ’em. I don’t have time. .

Camille: I love that so much. Yep. Just it’s real life. It’s a real life here. We’re real over here. That’s true. Sometimes we’re in survival mode and it’s okay. It’s just the season we’re in.

So we’ll just dive into today’s topic. Kristen and I each have four kids, and what’s kind of fun? Kristen, you have five.

Kristen: I totally have a baby. .

Camille: Okay. Before Kristen had her baby, we each had four kids and they all lined up perfectly with their ages, which has been so fun. We’ve been pregnant at the same time for every kid.

Kristen: Except I just like threw in this last one. So I was hoping that maybe you would, you know, hurry and get pregnant too.

Camille: But, you know, that would be a modern miracle.

Kristen: It’s true, It’s true. And it’s not, probably not going to happen. But anyways, it’s been fun to raise our kids together and kind of figure this out together.

Camille: And so our oldest child for both of us just started high school this year, and then we each have a kid that’s in junior high or middle school. So we are kind of in the thick of teenagers, which is a new territory for both of us. Like we’re still kind of figuring it out and we’re still learning a lot, but I thought this would be a really fun conversation to have.

Just kind of what we’re doing to keep our relationship strong with our teenagers right now. Like obviously we haven’t figured it all out and obviously we still have a couple, a lot of years ahead of us. Mm-hmm. in this teenager phase, but, um, so far. I’m loving it. I, I’m not the best toddler mom. I struggle to get down on, you know, their level and play Barbies or Right, or superheroes and, um, and so that was kind of a hard face for me, but I am loving this teenager phase where it’s, they’re a little bit more grown up and we can have some adult conversations and, um, I can speak to them, you know, in reason with them and sometimes I can’t reason with them. But for the most part, it’s really fun to have these grown up relationships with your kids. Would you agree the same?

Kristen: Totally. I, You, I always heard of people complaining of, Oh, teenagers. Oh, teenagers. And now I’m to the point where I’m like, Oh my gosh. I love having teenagers at home, like I love shopping with them. I love being with them. I love it. I love this phase of life, . Sure. That’s so far. That’s how I am too. And there, there are obviously some struggles and some things that make it, um, difficult, but that’s how it’s for every season of life, I feel like.

It’s just a different kind of struggle, you know, It’s not a you need help wiping your bum It’s something , it’s something else, right?

Camille: Yeah, I’ve decided that with younger kids, it’s a lot. Um, it’s really physically demanding. Like I have to physically be there for them, whether it’s changing diapers, feeding them food, doing their hair, getting them dressed, getting them to bed, getting them from bed.

Like it’s just me physically showing up all the time. But with my teenagers, I feel like it’s more of them needing me emotionally, and I have to be prepared. To show up emotionally all the time. So as I was kind of thinking about this podcast, I asked my daughter, who’s in high school, What is the best thing that I can do for you as a mom during this time of your life?

And her response was interesting, as she just said, Let me make my own mistakes and let me make my own choices. And. You know, it sounds so easy, but I feel like it’s so hard because I don’t want my kids to have to learn from those mistakes. I don’t want them to hurt, and I don’t, you know, like I don’t want them to have to experience the hard of making those dumb, dumb choices that you and I made.

You and I are. 20 months apart. So I feel like we kind of got to be teenagers together at the same time. And we, I know I made some dumb choices and you probably didn’t think definitely, but dumb choices definitely did. But when I back and kind of think about it like it was from those dumb choices, and it was from those mistakes I made that I probably learned the most.

Kristen: You know? Yeah. Like just teenager choices, the things that we did back then. So, um, so I really. Some profound advice from a teenager of what moms could do. I thought that was a really good, a really good point. No, I like that. And sometimes I don’t think about that. Sometimes that’s nice to hear from a teenager themselves, like, you’re right, I need to, I need to step back just a little bit, loosen my grip.

And you, you need to figure things out on your own. Right, Because really like it would be so much easier if I could just tell. Hey, like, let me choose who you’re gonna date. Let me choose the clothes you’re gonna wear.

Let me choose, like, let me just tell you, I’ll choose your friends. Like, yes, we’re gonna choose your friends.

Camille: Same there, lemme tell you what to eat so that you feel the best. Let tell you what time to go to bed, because you’ll be happier if you get more sleep. Oh my gosh. I think that’s, that’s our biggest thing right now.

Kristen: So I have two teenage girls. Yeah. And it’s a, it’s really like, If you don’t eat breakfast, you’re gonna be starving by lunch.

If you don’t pack a lunch, you’re gonna be starving by the time you get home. And that is our biggest fight cuz they’re too tired in the morning, they don’t wanna get breakfast, you know? And so that’s, I’ve made that like kind of my. My goal every morning is like, Okay, I’m gonna get up when they’re up, make sure that well, that I’m home when they’re home and we’re gonna either make some sort of breakfast together or pull something outta the freezer that I’ve already made, just so I know that we are, we’re eating together and that’s our time kind of, we spend our time together.

It’s that morning during breakfast time. So, I actually know that they’re getting nutrition in their bodies so they won’t die in the middle of the day. But it was a fight for a while there with both of them. They just, if I wasn’t around, I would talk to ’em later like, Oh yeah, I forgot to eat breakfast.

Camille: And just like, Oh, it’s the most important middle of the day. I, the thing that I love, The most about what you just said is that you make it a priority. You make it a point to be with them in the morning, and I really think that’s such an important part, is to make time for them, like make an effort to like make that connection with them.

Like even though you say you’re just like making breakfast or making sure that they get a lunch packed, like. What you’re doing really is showing up for them. And even though they may say like, Oh, I don’t wanna spend time with my mom and dad, they’re lame or whatever, like I think. Teenagers really do crave that connection and attention from their parents.

And, um, they might not show it in any type of way, but really like just you being there and you. Showing that you care and making that effort to make a connection. I think that speaks volumes as to the type of parent you are. I need to be better about that. I need to be better about. Because they’re independent, they can do it themselves.

And our big thing is like, um, you can choose your choice. But you can’t choose your consequence. And so I love that If my kids choose not to eat breakfast, their consequences, you are going to have a rumbly tumbly , a rumbly tummy in math while you’re sitting there and will make loud gurgly noises and you know, or you will be hungry.

Kristen: And, but I think too, I need to be better about. Just showing up and, and making an effort to make that connection, whether it’s about food or not, but yeah. Yeah, I love that.

Camille: Can you think of. Any other times or any other ways that you, um, try and make connections with your kids or find that time to make connection for me?

Because your kids all, all have sports right? After school. My kids come home and then we go to sports a little bit later that night. Mm-hmm. , it’s so. I have found for me, my kids are zombies in the mornings, but right when they get home from school, I found that’s kind of my magic time to connect with them.

They usually come in and eat . A lot of teenagers lives revolve around food, so, so does mine. Mother, like daughter. Um, so for me, my connection time with them is right when they come home from school and I just kind of hang out around the kitchen counter, just like we did. And, they usually are getting a snack and that’s when I can ask them some questions about their day.

And I tried to not ask, How was your day? Because then they usually just think. Good is good, is fine. I usually try to ask something maybe a little bit more particular like, who did you lunch by with today? Or what was the best thing that happened? Or what was your favorite class of the day? And, and just try to engage in that conversation.

I have some kids who love to tell me everything that’s going on in their lives, down to the very tiniest detail. And then I have other kids where it is like pulling so hard to get anything out of their lives and so different. Yeah. They are so different and I feel like I have to parent them also differently.

Yes, but regardless, um, just making that time a priority to connect with them I think is super important. Um, another thing that I thought of that has helped so much is I’ve dealt with teenagers and even preteens. We both have a daughter who is in that beautiful preteen phase where they’re figuring out their lives.

Kristen: Right? And that’s a whole. Stage in and of itself, we could do a whole other podcast about that. That is a hard stage. That is a hard one. That’s a hard one. That preteen stage is kind tricky.

Camille: Have you seen that YouTube video where it’s the husband and wife sitting on the couch and the wife has a huge nail sticking out of her head, and she’s sitting there talking about like the huge headache she has and it just, it hurts so bad and, and the husband’s.

Pull out, just pull it out. Or like I’ll pull out the nail. And she looks at him and she’s like, It’s not about the nail. And so, and it’s hilarious. I think it’s from Saturday, nightlife go, You’ve gotta go Google it because it’s so applicable to life. Like I feel like a lot of times my kids will sit there and tell me their problems and tell me the pain that they’re having with their problems or the hard thing they’re experiencing with their problems.

And my go to, because I’m a mom and I’m a fixer, is to fix. Yep. And there’s so many times where even my husband will just whisper to me. It’s not about the nail . Like, don’t try and tell them, Well just pull it out. Like just don’t sit by that friend anymore. Like find a new friend or whatever their problem is like, yeah.

Sometimes it’s not about the nail and instead of trying to fix their problems, I just try to listen. Um, that and, and just not offer solutions, but just kind of validate, like, yeah, oh, that sucks. Like that really sinks what you’re going through. I’m so sorry. Like, is there anything I could do to help? Like that’s the where I need to come from.

Kristen: And I think too, like I’ve been trying something new like my, I have one daughter, she just can lose her temper so quickly and so it makes me lose my temper so quickly. , I get that. I’m trying this new thing where I’m just like, okay. Before I even speak, I literally have to count to five and it’s so silly, but like I mentally just like, okay, counting to five before I speak.

Because when I count everything calms and then I don’t explode or come back with a Fixit problem or, Well you should do this. Well you should, you know, like, why haven’t you done this? Right? I have to count, count to five so I can think of a different answer to say instead of the thing that I just really want.

To tell them of how to fix their life. So I, I love that because that’s really like something that I’m trying to focus and fix in my relationship with my children. .

Camille: Yeah, totally. Um, so one of my daughters, she, we’ve, she’s seen a therapist for over a year. She just has some struggles that we’re working through and, and, and just trying to help her with and yeah.

She is my child that sees the negative in every single situation. And it’s really hard for me because I’m somebody who sees the positive in situations and so, Something that I, I just was so frustrated and I went and talked to her therapist, like I would have these mini sessions with her therapist without my daughter being there, and her therapist was, I was telling her like, Oh, I’m just, I’m so frustrated.

I want her to be happy. I want her to, you know, see the glass half full like I do. And, and she just looked at me, she stopped me and she’s like, you’re the adult. I need you to be the adult . She’s the child. I need you to control your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Take a deep breath. Recognize that she’s a child.

She’s figuring it out. Her brain’s not fully developed. Yeah, if you’ve got to be in control of your emotions, So you can help her be in control of hers. And it really resonated with me. Like sometimes it’s so hard to be the adult. I would much rather just be like, Lemme tell you how to fix this. Why are you acting this way?

It’s like there’s so many other. Adult ways that I can handle it. And um, another thing that we’ve learned through taking my daughter to therapy and, and dealing with, um, just some of the things she struggles with is when she does sit there and tell me about the hard things she’s going through or just problems she’s having.

I have to be, and this is what she said, vomitingly validating, like over the top. Interesting, validating. And so when my daughter comes to me and is like, Oh my gosh, I fell on the playground today and I got a little scab on my leg and it was terrible. And I was so sad. Instead of me being like, Oh, but you got a bandaid and it’s better, you’re fine.

Kristen: Right? Suck it up. You’re fine. Suck it up.

Camille: Probably what I would say up like, We do hard things in this family. Yeah. Instead, I have to. Oh, that is terrible. I hate when I have bad days like that. Like I’m so sorry that you fell and you fell down and that nobody was there to help pick you up. And, and then the other thing I have to do is try and find a way I can relate to it and share.

Like, I remember one time when I fell down, it hurt and I remember how bad it hurt. Like to find a way to connect with her and her problem. Mm-hmm. so that she feels seen and she feels like, Oh, okay. I’m not the only one going through this problem. Yeah. And, and I feel like. That could work with any kid really.

A lot of times if they are sharing something with you, like a problem or a hard thing or complaining about something, they just need to be heard and they just need you to listen and, um, not try and fix it, but just, just be there for them and support them. I love that I, I’m gonna write that down. Vomiting, validating, Right.

Try and say it three times fast. It’s really hard. Vomiting. Validating. Over the top. Validating. Yeah. Okay, so another way. That, um, just to try and keep my relationship strong with my kids. And we kind of talked about connection already. Yeah, yeah. But, um, a priority that we have in our family as much as possible is to eat family dinner together.

Kristen: Ah, I love that. And I know that you are good at that too, despite your crazy schedules. I know that’s an important thing for your family too.

Camille: So what does like family dinner look like for you right now with your five kids and seven different schedules in your family? Right. There’s quite a few. There’s a lot going on.

Kristen: So we, My husband actually doesn’t really eat dinner with us. He gets home too late, and so it’s usually just me and the kids. So I have one daughter that made the high school team so. Pretty much gone right now, every night until late. So it’s me and a few kids and it’s, we are running out the door. So sometimes I’ll make meals that are easy that you can pack up and we’ll bring it with us.

But as we are eating dinner, we’re still eating all together. Like that’s how I like to have things is we’re together and we’re eating. It doesn’t matter where we’re eating, it doesn’t matter what we’re eating, but we’re together and we’re eating. But once the schedules slow down, then. I try really hard to set a specific time of when we’re eating and everyone needs to try and be home by that time.

So kind of different phases of soccer season and phases of life. And, but for the most part, like my main goal is to have us together, sitting together. I love it and I think that you’re doing such a good job. Like it, it really isn’t about what food you eat. Yeah. It’s really about having that time together.

Camille: And, um, our mom, she was so good at this because like each of us, each sister was involved in sports or extracurricular activities, and then we were also all involved in student government. And so I feel like our junior high and high school years were just the craziest of schedules.

Kristen: Like, no, I was thinking like I played. On like four different sports teams, plus track, plus piano, plus officers. Like that’s seven things just for one child. Yeah. And she had six, you know, like she had six . Sometimes I think about it, I’m like, I don’t know how she’s doing this or how she did it. And I couldn’t drive until my junior year of high school, so she was still carting me around cause I have a late birthday, like it’s pretty amazing.

Camille: What our mom was able to do and still get dinner on the table, like seriously every night. So when we were growing up, dinner happened between five 30 and six every single night. And we all had crazy schedules. Um, but if we couldn’t make it two dinner to like sit down and eat with the family, she always had a.

Waiting for us. Like in the fridge. Yeah. And even if my dad was gone, she had a plate set aside for him. And like there’s just something about that. Like yeah, you could put leftovers and containers and when I got home I could just dig through the leftovers and find something. But there was something about having a plate.

Made for you. Right? Like it, like you feel special, you know? Yeah. I felt like I was seen in a, we were a big family. We were a busy family, but like she was so good at helping us be seen. And it’s those little tiny things that you do that just help your child to, to, to feel seen and to feel like, okay, like I’m important.

Kristen: Right? And so our mom was so good at that right now for us.

Camille: For my family, we can make family dinner happen with everybody like a solid 50% of the week. Just our schedules align and it works out. And those are the days I love. And I, and, and what we do is no phones are allowed at the table and we all sit down together.

And, um, since my kids were little, We love to talk about like the, the best part of the day and the worst part of the day, or the happy, sad game, like something happy and something sad. But I heard something the other day and I kind of want to try it, and that this lady called it her HPG’s and she had her kids go around and say their H and their P and their G, and so the H was a high for the day.

What was the high point of your day or the best part of your day? Which I love. Yes. And then the P is what are you proud of? Are you proud of yourself? Is there something you’re proud of yourself for that day, or are you proud of somebody else? And I love that. I especially love if they could say something that they’re proud of themselves for.

Because I feel like that’s, that’s a hard thing when you’re growing up and when you’re a kid and when you’re a teenager. Like it’s good for them to recognize things they can be proud of about themselves. And then the last thing is, G, which is, what are you grateful for? And I love that, right? I’m such an advocate for.

Talking about gratitude. Yes. And when we can focus on gratitude, it helps so much just put things into perspective. Like we have so much to be grateful for. So, um, it just gets the conversation started and our kids are used to it now. They know at the dinner table we talk and sometimes we talk too much and we, and all the food is gone, but we’re still hanging out and talking and I just feel like magic happens.

Kristen: At the dinner table. It really does. It really does. And like you said before, really doesn’t matter what the food is, it’s, it’s that time and connection. It’s that time.

Camille: Just going right along those lines. It’s really the mission statement of six sister stuff is like, Right, how can we help get more families back to the dinner table?

And we share thousands and thousands of simple recipes, but um, that would hopefully encourage you to cook dinner so that you can get it to the dinner table. But really it’s not about the food, it’s about making that time to connect. And so don’t be afraid if you hate cooking or you don’t have time to cook.

Don’t be afraid of that part because that part is, it doesn’t really matter. You can have peanut butter and jam sandwiches, but just find the cereal. It’s okay.

Kristen: Yes. And sometimes that’s my kids’ favorite when they give something fun and different like cereal. Um, but, Uh, going right along with that too, like if you do need some help with family dinner, be sure to check out our freezer meals!

Like that is something that we’ve come out within the last year. We have a freezer meal membership. We have a freezer meal course or a guide that teaches you how to get started with freezer meals So if you wanna check those out, just head over to freezermeals.sixsistersstuff.com and we’ll get you hooked up.

Right. We both use freezer meals all the time. Actually, before we started recording, I was talking Camille about all the freezer meals that I’m going to create this week because there’s a lot, a lot going on and I need freezer meals, then that’s what I love the most about is we preach how much freezer meals can be so helpful in your life.

It’s because we’ve experienced it, ourselves.

Camille: Yes. Like we literally swear by freezer meals. That’s the only way I can get dinner on the table, like, right? Yes. There’s no other way I could do it. , Yes. Yes to that . Okay, well one last thought that I heard once. Oh, and, and if there’s anything else you wanna throw in.

Okay. Well, I, somebody who said this once, and it just really resonated with me and it has stuck with me, especially on those hard days. But, um, somebody just said, You are the perfect parent for your child. Nobody can love them like you do. Nobody can help them like you do. Like it’s. And that’s why you were chosen to be their parent.

And like, as I’ve had kids that have struggled with anxiety and as we, um, you know, weathered the pandemic together and figured that out with kids. And as I’ve just, you know, the struggles that come with being a parent, like there are days where I just think like, What did I do to deserve this? I thought I had lived a good life.

I don’t deserve . You know, these hard things. And when I heard that, I thought, You know what? That’s right. Like I love my kids fiercely, but there’s still some really hard days. And I think recognizing that your kid was sent just to you because you are the best parent for them, is super powerful and. Really helps you to keep going on those really hard days.

Kristen: I love that. I absolutely love that .

Camille: Well, can you think of anything else to add to life with teenagers or any other, anything else that you wanna share?

Kristen: Yes, I was, It’s funny, as we were like talking about this, what we wanted to talk about, there’s something that came up and so I just wanted to read it really quick.

Um, okay. So there’s this little quote and it says, um, we have to trust. Not only in them, but ourselves. Ourselves, that we’ve done the best that we can to prepare them and empower them in the values, morals, and confidence to face this world without us all, All while knowing that we’ve always got their back.

So even though, it’s so crazy to think these teenagers that we, you know, taught them since they were tiny, tiny babies and taught them how to do everything. And now like they’re reaching that age where we slowly have to step back and it’s, it’s kind of hard, but it’s so hard. , it’s hard, but I just, I hope my kids know that I’ve always got their back, like I would do anything for them.

So yeah, I liked that.

Camille: I love that. I think that is so, Powerful when your kids know like, okay, like no matter what, no matter what choices I make, no matter what path I choose to take, like I know my mom has my back. I don’t think there’s anything more comforting. For a teenager to know, this world is so crazy right now and there’s just these teenagers are dealing with things we never had to deal with.

No, it’s unreal to me the things that they are facing and what they have to go through and, and I, I firmly believe that they have been prepared for this, like that the, they can handle this. Right. But I feel like our role as parents is to just. Not only love them fiercely, but support them fiercely and let them know that we support them and that we’ve got their back.

No matter, no matter what. That’s our job as a parent. We just, we just love them. Yep. So, I love it. Awesome. Well, I feel like that’s a really good note to end on and, and I probably am gonna have to come back and listen to this on a really bad teenage day. when, so I could remember like, Okay, yep, I’ve got this.

I’m the perfect parent for them. Focused on, It’s not about the nail, it’s about just validating and connecting and supporting. But well, thanks for having this conversation with me, Cruz. No, it was so fun chatting and good luck if all your busy week. I hope that you survive. Same with you, . Thank you. One day at a time, one day at a time.

Thank you to all of you for listening. We just appreciate the community that we have, um, grown here and just love hearing from you. So don’t forget to, if you have any questions or comments, you can send us an email. But be sure to subscribe and um, so you can be here when we release more episodes, but we’re just grateful you were here and thanks for joining us.

We will see you next time. Bye.

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