I loved it when my children were babies. I also loved it when they were teenagers—really, I did. Yes, there were challenges, but the bonds we formed during those years will last us a lifetime.
What’s the key to parenting teenagers? In this podcast episode, Mark and I talk about how first, you’ll need to transition from being a little-people parent to a big-people parent. We have to accept that their mind has changed, how they think has changed, they want to start exercising their ability to make their own choices. That’s just natural. They’re like the little bird getting ready to fly. So tell yourself, “A change is happening here and I need to shift gears.”
Parents make all of their teens’ decisions for them.
You want to let your teen make her own decisions when she’s ready. So how do you know she has the maturity to do that? It’s tricky. I’ve said this often to my kids after they’ve asked for more freedom or a new privilege, “Show me you are ready.”
It’s not an age thing. It depends on the child. Some are ready for things others aren’t. Just because a sister or a brother did it, doesn’t mean that every child gets to do it too automatically. When you do see that your child is ready to make more decisions on her own, let her. If you don’t let her fly out a little, she won’t gain the experience of figuring things out on her own.
Parents have lots of rules without a relationship.
If you have a relationship with your teenager you will explain why the rule is there. With teenagers you can’t say, “Because I said so!” Taking the time to explain the why behind the rule helps them gain respect for your wisdom, and let’s them see that you’re not making decisions in a vacuum. They begin to trust you and you have an open dialogue.
I have made this mistake unintentionally. For example, I wanted to help one of my kids study more efficiently so I said, “I was talking to a mom friend of mine the other day, and her daughter did this and this to study and she made an A, so why don’ you do that?”
I wasn’t outright comparing, but my child heard, I don’t think you’re doing it the right way. Do it like this person…
If you’re child knows that you feel strongly about something he wants to do, and he feels like he doesn’t have a voice to be heard to argue with you about it, he is more likely to find a way to do it behind your back.
Teenagers need to know they can approach you and be heard. Your child will hide things from you if you don’t listen to their views.
Parents show conditional love.
Conditional love feels very defeating, especially for the child who’s not an overachiever. This is hard for busy, busy parents. We check off what kids need to do — grades, activities. The message that sends is, “I just care about the performance.”
So avoid these ways that parents frustrate their teens by trying to put yourself in their shoes and showing them a lot of love, every single day.
You can listen to the full podcast, here.