The Emotional (and Sometimes Chaotic) Life of Teenagers with Dr. Lisa Damour

Episode 05

Calling all parents of adolescents, or those of you who are about to have adolescents in your midst–if you’ve been feeling like you’re not sure what is normal in the emotional landscape of teenagers, we’re here to help. Face it—teenagers are literally in the epicenter of chaos–and because they live in our homes, sometimes it bleeds into our lives too. These kids are in developmental flux and there’s so much on them with school work, keeping up grades, extracurricular activities, friends (not to mention friend drama), anxiety about college—it’s a lot. But we can find ways to stand by them in their emotions, without getting too overcome with our own–and help them manage all this chaos in a way that serves them, and serves the whole family. Our guest this week is the perfect breath of calm in the midst of teen emotional chaos–she’s lived it, she studies it and she practices in it. Dr. Lisa Damour is a New York Times bestselling author who has written a book on the subject called The Emotional Lives of Teenagers, in addition to being an expert on adolescent development and family mental health. She and Jen hit the high points of: 

  • The seven developmental tasks that teenagers face
  • Why the emotional world of teenagers is very different than during any other time in their life, and how they navigate emotions and how they express them  
  • How to know when a teenager is having a mental health crisis or if it’s just a teenager being a teenager
  • How to manage a meltdown in nine steps

Dr. Lisa gives us actionable tools to help understand teenagers and gently guide them as they wade through the somewhat chaotic season of adolescence.

Episode Transcript

Hey, everybody. Jen Hatmaker here,  your host of the For the Love Podcast. You guys, welcome to the show. Ooh, today’s such a good one, you guys. Calling all parents, calling all parents of adolescents, or you’re about to be. We’re in a series right now called For The Love of Calming the Chaos. Does it come as a surprise that in a series about calming the chaos we wanted to drop in an episode about parenting teens?

They are literally in the epicenter of emotional chaos. And of course, we live with them. They live in our homes, and so they bring it into our houses, of course, and it can create a lot of disruption and confusion and chaos in the family. I am on record as saying I love teenagers. This is my favorite stage of parenting by a million percent. So this isn’t a hate teen’s moment at all. It’s more like, how do we manage their emotional landscape? How do we help them manage their own chaos in a way that serves them, that serves the family? It’s just, it’s a lot because it, first of all, we have our own stuff that we’re walking around with, and that’s what the rest of this series is about. Our own personal chaos, our internal chaos, um, the places where our life feels like it’s unraveling or disintegrating in some way.

So we’ve got that to worry about all the time. But then we’ve got these kids who are in such developmental flux, and they have so much to manage school and homework and grades and activities and emotions, friend drama, relationship drama, anxiety, college, like in a short amount of time. They really have to navigate a huge list of responsibilities and tasks and concerns. And so how do we help them, right? How do we help them? What’s normal? These are the questions that I was asking yesterday. What’s normal? What behavior is happening that’s not, it’s not an indicator that something’s wrong, it’s just an indicator that that is a teenage person. What should we expect? How is the best way to come alongside our, these are all the questions that we are asking today, because we want our kids to learn healthy coping skills.

We want them to manage their own storms, right? We want them to build this resilience in adolescence. It’s gonna serve them the rest of their life. So, oh man, I mean, this conversation today is packed, packed. Our guest is incredible. She is so good at this. This is her area. This is her specialty. We have psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour on the show today. She is a New York Times bestselling author of Untangled Under Pressure, which we talk about quite a bit. And then her newest, which, not to put a fine point on it, is titled The Emotional Lives of Teenagers. You can see why we called her. She’s also a podcast host. Her show’s called the Ask Lisa podcast, and you will love it. Consider it your new resource. So additionally, Dr. Damour serves as the senior advisor to the Schubert Center for Child Studies at Case Western Reserve University.

She’s written countless academic papers and chapters and books related to education and child development. I can’t imagine how much you would learn if you visited her practice. She also still runs her, like in-office clinical practice. She’s just an expert voice on adolescent development and family mental health, and then ultimately adult wellbeing. She is gentle and patient, and I was just, I had sort of an interview written up for this, and I just sort of went off the map. Like everything she was saying was sort of raising new questions for me. And, and then of course, not surprisingly, I essentially treated this like my own personal counseling session, as a parent of teens. So I laid a lot of my personal issues and questions and struggles down during this conversation. But I know it’s not too self-serving because I’m always listening to you.

This is the stuff that we’re all dealing with with our teens. So, by the way, as if her incredible credentials weren’t enough, Lisa also collabs with UNICEF, and she’s been recognized as a thought leader by the American Psychological Association, and she’s a regular contributor to New York Times and CBS news. So she’s got a ton of receipts. You guys, we are going to learn from her today. We are gonna listen to her today, wait till you hear her perspective on teens. I think you’re gonna feel comforted today. I think you will hear some normalization,  that’s gonna serve you well. And then you’re gonna walk away with some fantastic tips. And so, I could have talked to her for all day long, but we’ve got one hour.  So I’m so pleased to share my conversation with the smart and insightful, helpful, incredible, Dr. Lisa DaMour.


Mentioned in this Episode: 

by Dr. Lisa Damour

Under Pressure
by Dr. Lisa Damour

The Emotional Lives of Teenagers
by Dr. Lisa Damour

The Ask Lisa Podcast

The Little Mermaid

Dr. Damour’s Downloadable Bookmarks (including How to Manage a Meltdown)


Stay Connected with Jen Hatmaker: 


Thanks for listening to the For the Love Podcast!

XO – Team Jen

CONNECT WITH Dr. Lisa Damour

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