Kristen Duke

Kristen Duke acknowledges teens can be moody.

If new parents want to know what to expect when they’re expecting, countless resources seem to be available from books, Facebook groups or loved ones who were once new parents.

But when their babies turn 13, the fountain of advice tends to run dry.

At least that’s what Kristen Duke noticed. She remembers trading diaper tips and potty training stories with friends and family, but those conversations trickled as toddlers turned into teenagers.

“With teenagers, we just don’t talk about things,” she said. “I think the idea is you just power through until you get to the other side. It feels so isolating.”

Duke, a Colorado Springs mother of four, decided to talk about it. And write about it.

She started blogging in 2010 about her varying interests, from photography advice to gift ideas to recipes.

A few years ago, she pivoted her blog to a singular focus: parenting teenagers.

“I got to a point where I just wanted to just talk about strengthening families,” she said. “That’s what I love.”

She was inspired by a talk with a friend, who was struggling with their relationship with their teenage child.

“My friend told me, ‘You just seem to get teenagers,’” Duke said.

It helps, she said, that she remembers her own teenage years well. And she remembers things her parents did or said that left a good or bad impression. Duke’s degree in human development from Brigham Young University helps, too.

Her blog has expanded into a website, podcast and active Instagram community, which now includes 30,0000 followers.

“Teens have a bad rap,” Duke’s website reads. “But the truth is, parenting teens can be full of joy and connection. As parents we must recognize the challenges they face, hold ourselves accountable and be intentional about connection.”

She’s passionate about correcting that bad rap.

“It seems normal to berate teenagers and call them idiots,” Duke said. “I’m not OK with that.”

She aims to flip around negative attitudes about teens, like how they might often have negative attitudes.

One piece of “teen drama” Duke addresses? They are moody.

“It’s hard not to take it personally when it feels like you’re trying to hug a cactus,” she wrote online.

Instead of getting pricked, Duke suggests trying to figure out why those spikes have formed. This is when one of her favorite mottos comes into play: “Get curious, not furious.”

“Teeangers are going through a lot of changes and they have a lot of stressors in their life,” she said. “I think parents forget that.”

Duke is full of simple tricks, like conversation cards and ideas for bonding activities. For moms or dads struggling to talk with their kids, she suggests asking about funny videos or TV shows instead of school or friends. Recently, she’s shared such advice in short-form videos on Instagram that have attracted thousands of views.

Her wisdom goes beyond 15-second clips, too.

Duke offers one-on-one mentoring, courses and tools like the “Intentional Connection Playbook.” In the playbook, she lists 10 ways for parents and teens to build closer relationships.

With kids of the ages from 12 to 22, Duke expects to continue her work in future years, probably at least until her kids grow out of the teenage phase.

“My biggest thing is helping people to realize they’re not alone with these struggles,” she said. “I love it. And I’m going to do it until I don’t love it anymore.”

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