Think back to your own teen days. Do you remember…
Parenting teens is basically the definition of ‘a wing and a prayer.’ You may not be prepared for this, but all you’re left with is the hope that whatever you’ve done, up until now, have been lessons learned.
Unlike those small children that our teens once were, and oh how badly do I miss my cherubic babies, teens are not nearly as controllable. Nor should they be. After all, according to the laws, once they hit 18, they are adults. Kind of. More like dependent adults. Also, unlike when they were young, the reins need to be loosened so that they can learn to be independent. They need to be because after your next blink, they’ll be off to college and beyond.
How do we do this? How do we allow our precious children, our teenagers, to test out the world without us hovering over them, ready to wipe the tears and kiss the sting from the boo-boos? Especially when we aren’t ready.
Show a little trust
My daughter has been begging me to let her visit a friend who has gone off to college. I’ve been dodging her constant asking, not wanting to commit to an answer. It terrifies me to have her visiting friends at college. However, she raised a good point. I need to trust her. I know I do. And, I do. I trust her. I raised my kids to be free thinkers. I don’t know how I did it but I did. And she is. She’s never been one to party, especially if she’s the one driving. Her grades are awesome. She is driven, industrious, and is definitely a trustworthy kid. One way to show her how much I trust her and respect the person she’s becoming is to let her go. Ugh…I guess I have her answer right here!
Allow a little independence
People make mistakes, and by allowing your kids to do just that is letting them gain independence. Not cleaning up their messes, both literal and emotional, and letting them figure it out for themselves helps our teens become independent. I know I’m guilty of the knee-jerk reaction to take care of them, to help them fix what’s broken. Now that my big kids are in their late teens, I’ve learned to take a few breaths. I let them assess their damage, decide what it is they can do on their own and, if need be, I help them with the rest. I’m finding, however, that they need me less and less. While it’s a bittersweet situation to be in, I know that I’m helping shape my kids into functional and successful adults.
Back off a (lot) bit
I am so guilty of doing everything for my kids. From appointments to packing lunches to folding their clothes. Itm appointments to packing lunches to folding their clothes.ge, decide what it ins, who will be true adults before you even know it, will be thrust head first into learning how to do things for themselves. Because hey mom, are you really going to want to run up to your kid’s college dorm to clean it and do the laundry? I know I don’t!
Strike a pose
Kids’ first and greatest role models are their parents. Being the person worthy of emulation, at least while in the presence of the kids, is one way to create a behavior model. Kids repeat what they know, generally speaking. If mom and dad are partying and then get behind the wheel, then hey…it must be okay for your kid, right? If they catch you in that uncompromising circumstance, that’s a good time to have that alcohol talk. When kids see their parents living and enjoying their lives, they want to live and enjoy their own lives. I know that when I joined a gym and my middle daughter saw how much I loved going, she decided she wanted to join the gym, too. Now, we sometimes go together to work out. She loves it even more than I do!
The most important thing is being there, whenever you can, for your teen. Yes, they are considered an adult, and yes, you want to start treating them like one, but, they are still kids, too!