Dear Teen Me, advice to teenagers, advice to teens, parenting advice for teens

Critical Advice For Teens … What’s Yours?

I feel fortunate to have kept in touch with one of my Freshman dorm mates, Lisa Rosowsky, who is a professor at the Mass College of Arts, an artist, and mother of  two teenage daughters. As a very nurturing Prof — she is SO nice — she councils teens and twenty-somethings all day, every day. I pay special attention to her advice for teens.

Lisa Rosowsky, angel of Auchwitz

Lisa Rosowsky’s Angel of Auschwitz

She sent me this email below. Her advice is on etiquette, something that is very important to my husband. He feels that it the single most important thing to teach kids. It can open doors and, conversely,  lack of proper etiquette can also slam them shut!

I thought it would be fun to help her out by Crowdsourcing advice for teens!

Want to jump in with one piece of advice you were sent off to college with? Please do by leaving a comment!

Let’s Crowdsource Advice for Teens

Dear Friends:

My older daughter, Madeleine, a Junior in high school, is heading off to a 6-week math summer program at BU, and when I reminded her to send a thank you note or email to the math teacher who wrote her recommendation, she rolled her eyes and said it had been a few weeks, and perhaps it was too late to send. I assured her it was not.

Made me think of the many bits of “etiquette” advice I’d like to shoehorn in before she goes off to college in a year. Stuff like bringing a little something for the host/hostess when invited to someone’s home for dinner; writing thank you notes for recommendations for college applications, internships, jobs, etc. I thought this would be a good one to crowd-source!

So, please, if you have a “pet peeve” or the one piece of good advice that YOU were sent off to college with, could you pass it along to me? Thank you!


P.S. Please feel free to pass this along to anyone you’d like to weigh in…


Dear Teen Me: YA Authors Write to Their Teen Selves

I also came across of Dear Teen Me, a blog of Young Adult authors who write letters to their teenage selves. The posts are wonderful! I ended up reading a bunch of them and finally just buying the paperback which I gave to my teenager, Grasshopper and Sensei, yesterday. Today, I noticed that book was marked half way though with a folded down corner of the book which made me ecstatic.

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves (True Stories) edited by Amy Kathleen Ryan and E. Kristin Anderson

Writing is a risky career choice so I was thrilled to find successful Young Adult authors giving advice to their teenage selves about believing in themselves, listening to their inner voices, and finding courage to stay at it. At times poignant and at other times, butt-kicking-inspirational, these short letters give advice that I’d give my teenager if she would actually listen to me. But what teen wants advice from their parents. Answer: not a single teen in the history of mankind. They’d rather get it from an author they love. So, easy enough. Just hand them this book!

To view Dear Teen Me at Amazon, please click on image. I am an Amazon Affiliate which means I get a very small fee at no expense to you if you buy it through my blog. 

My Advice to Teens Leaving for College

Two words: Self Advocacy. This means that you will need to find solutions to problems by yourself. It could be dropping a class instead of failing it. Or getting an extension on a paper. It could mean getting help finding housing or sorting out a parking ticket. The key to self advocacy is Just Do It. Solving problems is like a cavity; ignoring it won’t make it go away. Instead, the cavity will turn into a root canal. If you ignore that, you will lose your tooth.

It won’t always be obvious what to do or who to ask. You will spend frustrating hours in line or on the phone with unhelpful people. It will be annoying. But … Be nice. State your issue clearly. Ask for help. Thank the person. If this isn’t the right person, keep asking until the next step is revealed. Welcome to the real world teens!

What is your advice for teens? Please share!

Dear Teen Me, advice to teenagers, advice to teens, parenting advice for teens

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I like the self-advocacy tip. I feel like when I went away to college, I was still expecting everything to just take care of itself, magically. That’s probably something that’s hard for parents to get across to their kids- that they are actually responsible for what happens, so they need to be proactive…. oh, it’s hard. 🙂
    Jeanette Nyberg recently posted…Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts For KidsMy Profile

  2. Going off to college is such a critical point for teens. I remember that I wrote a journal for my daughter shortly before she left. In it I tried to express what she meant to me, how I was feeling at this critical juncture, and a bit of advice on how to handle some of the situations that might come up now that she was on her own. Writing this small book was a good experience for me as well as a resource for my daughter.
    bamauthor recently posted…PINT SIZED PEACEMAKERSMy Profile

  3. I didn’t go to a sleep away college so can’t give advice from personal experience but, what I’ve heard from others I feel I can say “Don’t drink too much beer and try to study”
    Faigie recently posted…Small murals of sheep in the meadow through drawing, painting and pastingMy Profile

  4. Agree – Self-advocacy, self-sufficiency – Check out Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a B Minus
    Nancy B. recently posted…Washi Tape, Jelly Jars and Crackers = A Nice Hostess GiftMy Profile

  5. This sounds like a great book! My advice is to take the classes that interest you, even if they might be hard, require a lot of work, or even (gasp!) drop your GPA.
    maryanne recently posted…We Went Camping!My Profile

    • Hi Maryanne,
      That is really great advice that I could have used. I was an unhappy premed in college and I hated all those science classes and history of science classes which was my major. I wished I had pursued other classes and chosen a different major. We had to pick our major by December of Freshman year and I think it was just too soon for me.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…I Appreciate You Gift IdeasMy Profile

  6. This really sounds like a wonderful book. I don’t think I was fully ready when I started.
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently posted…{Fresh and Frozen} Fruit SaladMy Profile

    • Hi JDaniel4’s Mom,
      I don’t think I was ready either. I think kids grow up faster these days though. That Dear Teen Me book is great. My daughter really liked it. It gives advice I’d give her but she won’t listen to me so this is a nice way to instill it.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…I Appreciate You Gift IdeasMy Profile

  7. Thank you for this post! I was really interested in your thoughts and what others have to say since I now have a tween boy!
    Roshni recently posted…Play times can teach life’s lessonsMy Profile

    • Hi Roshni,
      Tween and teen parenting is new to me too! I have a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old (and an 8-year-old which seesm so much easier to parent than a tween/teen). I loved that other parents agree about etiquette since I feel like that is a lost art! The Teen Me book by authors has also been a hit with my teen. The stories are powerful and heartfelt and the message is wonderful: follow your heart, listen to your inner voice and just get through these difficult teen years because it’s going to get much better soon. You can read the blog for free just to get a sense of the stories on it.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…What is Your Favorite Mom Indulgence? I have 5!My Profile

  8. Renee

    For young ladies: ALWAYS wear proper foundational garments and keep garment tape in your purse/bag.

  9. Ha – ignoring it it won’t go away – so true and us parents also need the advice! Thanks.
    iGameMom recently posted…Sound Touch – Flash Card AppMy Profile

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