Seasons in parenting: the teenage years (part 2)
On Friday I shared my first six tips for parenting teens. I can’t tell you how encouraging your responses were! We’ll continue here with seven more suggestions, and I’m already eager to hear your thoughts. Don’t be shy.
7. Don’t overreact.
Whether your teenager brings home a poor grade or confides information about friends or classmates, hysteria is never a welcome response. I don’t know how many times our kids have thanked me (us) for not making a big deal over a bad test score. FYI, that’s one of their friends’ biggest frustrations about their parents.
Consequences might be warranted; but if we’ve seem them investing time for that class, we don’t berate them. When grades dip and study time is non-existent, activities are restricted until there’s improvement. Your nagging will only make them numb.
If your child reveals shocking news about their peers, nod your head as if you’d expect to hear it, and offer your opinion when invited. Later, look for opportunity to discuss it further, not as judgement, but out of concern. The quickest way to get your teen to shut down is to shriek when you find out Kara got drunk last night or Kevin is sleeping around.
One of the highest compliments I’ve ever been paid was when my 16-year-old son’s best friend said, “If I ever REALLY screwed up, I think I could talk to your mom about it.” Why did he feel like he could come to me in that event? He had spent enough time in our home and observed how I reacted to “stories.” He knew I would have a truthful, loving and reasonable response; not judgment and condemnation.
When you don’t overreact, your children are much more inclined to reveal what’s going on in their world. They’re less likely to withhold information…or to feel “forced” to lie about it.
8. It’s not about them.
From the time babies exit the womb, they rightfully demand your time and attention. If they’re still thinking the world revolves around them when they’re 17, you’ve got a problem.
Continually guide them in consideration for others. Encourage mission trips or local volunteerism through church and service organizations. Be sure your actions and choices model this. Sometimes what a child learns is taught, but often, and more effectively, it’s caught.
Your children will be ambassadors of the Golden Rule.
Photo by Paul Keller
9. Prepare for the future.
(You’re going to hate me for this one.) Remember — you’re raising your children for someone else, not yourself. Ouch. When a pastor friend shared this, I wanted to hurt him.
But I’m thankful to have let that thought percolate for years, to help prepare my head and heart for the eventual. Hold your teens with an almost-open hand; then when it’s time, let go! You’ll gain much more than your perceived loss.
Leaving and cleaving…it’s required for a healthy marriage!
10. Say “yes” more than you say “no,” and take time to explain your reasons.
“Because I said so” doesn’t fly well with teenagers. Freedom is important to their development, so give them opportunities to make choices while they’re still living under your roof. Sometimes they’ll make mistakes, but more often than not, they’ll do the right thing.
They’ll respect your decisions more when you share your rationale for your choices. They still might not like them, but they’ll respect you (even if it takes a while for them to come around).
11. Hillary Clinton was spot on–it takes a village to raise a child.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to know your children’s friends’ parents. It’s not critical to be BFFs, but it serves everyone to have a friendly relationship. Because the BEST of kids–yes, even those “good, Christian” kids–will do things that disappoint you (It’s not the end of the world; don’t treat it as such.).
Follow up to confirm plans with other parents; make sure they know your “house rules” (no Internet without filters, number of kids allowed in a car, and the like). If your teens try to shame you or make you feel guilty, call you overly-protective, or complain that “you’re the only one” who does this, you’re probably on the right track.
If your children and their friends know the parents are in conversation and agreement about expectations, they’re less likely to play one against the other.
Photo by Nicki Varkevisser
12. Final words of wisdom
Oh, and advice from my teens themselves? Don’t talk in text abbreviations, don’t try to dress like a teen, and do not comment to their Facebook pages. You may think you’re cool and accepted, but they’ll be rolling their eyes behind your back.
Especially those imperfect teens.
Okay, parents… What questions or thoughts do you have to share about parenting teenagers? Do you think it’s easier or harder to be a teenager than when you were one? Or is it just… different?
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