All you have to do is make it through the morning and you’ll be fine…
Everything seems to be going well until you ask your teen if they’ve got their things ready and… disaster. They pull that face and you’re sent reeling into another morning of drama.
As your partner leaves to make sure they’re on time for work – you’re already beginning to think of ways to explain why you’re late to yet another meeting without blaming it on “motherly or fatherly” duties.
The rest of the day is a haze as you try to focus on business while you worry about the way things were left between you and your teen. You’re back in that space of being half here, half there but nowhere fully.
So much for making it through the morning…
But it’s not like that in real life is it? How do ‘They’ Do It?
Some people seem to have it all; thriving business, great family and a real sense of self! But for you; it feels like there’s a constant battle between you, your business and your teenager. The continuous cycle of feeling anxious, guilty, hurt and frustrated leaves you exhausted. All you can think about is:
- How are you supposed to know who or what to focus on first when everything is a priority?
- Why does it seem like something is always stopping you from moving forward?
- What can you do to stop feeling as though you’re always a split second away from losing touch with reality?
- Why do you find it so hard when others seem to find it so easy?
Do I hear you ask ’What’s the secret?’
Here are 5 top tips for you as a parent to make a start:
Your child isn’t a little kid anymore. They’re a teen, or a tween … and it’s time that you tweaked your parenting skills to keep up with them.
Yes, there’s no doubt that they’re probably moodier now than when they were younger. And you as a busy parent have lots more things to think about like restrictions, dating, dress codes, them becoming new drivers, and the friends whom they keep, all of which can make you raise your eyebrows.
Your teen, or tween, take it as a given, will test your limits, and your patience. But they’re still your child. And, though they won’t admit it, they still need you!
The key is knowing what efforts are worth it, is to choose your battles wisely.
#1. Expecting the worse
Think about your reaction when someone happens to ask you “how old are your children?” and note their response when you say “I have a teenager”. There’s an automatic assumption that all teens are difficult, which makes raising teenagers challenging. As it’s already seen as an ordeal. Many parents, believing they can only watch helplessly as their lovable children transform into unpredictable monsters.
But that type of thinking sets you and your teen up for several unhappy, unsatisfying years together.
Remember “The message we give teenagers is that they’re only ‘good’ if they’re not doing ‘bad’ things, such as doing drugs, hanging around with the wrong crowd, or having sex,”
It could become a self-fulfilling prophecy: Negative expectations can actually promote the behaviour you fear most.
Tip: Focus on your child’s interests and hobbies, even if you don’t understand them. You could open up a whole a new path of communication and use it as an opportunity to reconnect with the child you love, and you can learn something new.
My teenage daughter once said to me – ‘It’s really bad how all adults just roll your eyes when they hear the word teenager and then they make a knowing groan’ ever since then I became starkly aware of just how many of us do it!!
#2. Reading Too Many Parenting Books
Parenting books aren’t a bad thing, but you need to trust your gut instincts, what feels right for you, in your family.
Too many times we turn to books and external advice and it becomes a problem when parents use them to replace their own innate skills. “If the recommendations don’t fit your personal style try not to let it impact on your confidence and as a parent otherwise, you’re likely to wind up more anxious and less confident about your skills as a parent.
Tip: Refer to books/websites etc. get a general perspective on confusing behaviour… and then put the book down and trust that you’ve learned what you need to learn. Get clear about what matters most to you and your family.
#3. Too Much, or Too Little, Discipline
Some parents, sensing a loss of control over their teens’ behaviour, crack down every time their child steps out of line. Others avoid all conflict for fear their teens will push them away.
You don’t have to do either of those things. It’s about finding a balance between compliance and freedom.
If you put too much emphasis on compliance, you may be able to make your teen or tween fall into line … but at what price? It’s worth remembering that Teens raised in extremely rigid environments miss out on the chance to develop problem-solving or leadership skills… because you’re making the decisions for them.
Yet too little discipline doesn’t help, either. Teens and tweens need clear structure and rules to live by as they start to explore the world outside.
As their parent, it’s up to you to set your family’s core values and communicate them through your words and actions. That means being an authoritative parent, an approach that “helps children develop the skills they need to govern themselves in appropriate ways.
TIP: Remember, your influence runs deeper than you may think. Most teens ACTUALLY say they want to spend more time with their parents. Keep making time for your child throughout the tween and teen years. Even when it doesn’t show, you provide the solid ground they know they can always come home to.
#4. Mistaking intelligence, giftedness and influence for maturity
Intelligence is often used as a measurement of a child’s maturity, and as a result parents assume an intelligent child is ready for the world. That’s not the case. Some professional athletes and Hollywood starlets, for example, possess unimaginable talent, but still get caught in a public scandal. Just because giftedness is present in one aspect of a child’s life, don’t assume it pervades all areas. There is no magic “age of responsibility” or a proven guide as to when a child should be given specific freedom.
TIP: If you notice that they are doing more themselves than your child does, you may be delaying your child’s independence, a good rule of thumb is to observe other children the same age as yours and make your personal decision.
#5. Sweating the Small Stuff
Maybe you don’t like your teen’s haircut or choice of clothes. Or perhaps s/he didn’t get picked for the position on the team you know s/he deserves.
But before you step in, take a look at the bigger picture.
If it’s not putting your child at risk, give them the leeway to make age-appropriate decisions, facilitate a discussion and help them to learn from the consequences of their choices.
Most parents want to naturally cushion our children from any pain, disappointment, or failure. But protecting your teen from the realities of life will take away valuable learning opportunities … which they’ll need when they’re out on their own.
Tip: Remind yourself that your role is there to be a guide and offer comfort…you’re still the parent. But the challenge for you is to step back and let your child know you’re there for them.
What do you find most challenging about been the parent of your teen ?
I for one, would love to hear from you.
What other ideas can you add? If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it with a friend!
With love and blessings